Kilmarnock 2-1 St Johnstone: Armstrong double earns hosts victory

Kilmarnock 2-1 St Johnstone: Armstrong double earns hosts victory

Armstrong’s free-kick was hit with laser accuracy

A Danny Armstrong double handed Kilmarnock victory over St Johnstone despite the threat of a late comeback in the Scottish Premiership.

The winger’s 30-yard free-kick gave Derek McInnes’ side an early lead before his second, a minute into the second half, put the hosts in firm control.

Theo Bair’s late half-volley set up a tense finish at Rugby Park, but it wouldn’t be enough for Callum Davidson’s side who were in search of their second win in a row.

Armstrong’s brace instead secured only a second victory of the season for the Rugby Park outfit, a result which brings Kilmarnock to within three points of their opponents in ninth.

Kilmarnock let their intentions be known early on when Blair Alston got on the end of Armstrong’s knock down, but the midfielder could only blaze wide against his former side.

It wasn’t long before the hosts struck, though. It was a Hollywood hit, bent with unbelievable precision from distance by Armstrong to leave Remi Matthews with no luck.

St Johnstone weren’t far away from an equalizer. Stevie May, superb at the weekend, saw a shot deflect and loop towards Zach Hemming before Ali Crawford and Nicky Clark forced the Killie keeper into good saves.

But the visitors were left to lament their profligacy when Kilmarnock struck immediately after the break.

Alan Power’s shot trundled through to Chris Stokes, who rattled the bar from close range. The ball bounced back to the six-yard line where Armstrong threw himself forward to nod home in front of any clearing St Johnstone defender.

The wizard on the wing almost scored a sublime hat-trick on the hour mark. Receiving on the right-hand touchline, he danced past two players on his way to the edge of the box before curling a delicious strike that shaved the outside of the post.

Bair’s rasping right-foot half-volley set up an uncomfortable few minutes, but the Saints sub’s strike was mere consolation.

Player of the Match – Danny Armstrong

The former Wolves man now has five goals this season, showing his strikers how it should be done.
The former Wolves man now has five goals this season, showing his strikers how it should be done.

Astonishing Armstrong makes Killie click – analysis

For the last few weeks, and possibly months, Kilmarnock have been crying out for a creator to provide the strikers with chances.

Armstrong appears the likeliest candidate to do so, but tonight he was more interested in taking the spotlight himself.

A free-kick that Trent Alexander-Arnold would have been proud of, and a poacher’s finish to put most strikers to shame.

St Johnstone did threaten occasionally, but as the game went on that lack of confidence crept back in to their play.

Bair’s late strike was truly out of the blue, but opening his Saints account will give him, and his manager, a boost.

What they said

St Johnstone boss Callum Davidson: “It was a horrible start [to the second-half] from us, really poor. We didn’t do the basics well, we had chances to clear our lines. Kilmarnock score and then sat in and defended well.

“We didn’t ask enough questions of them and that was the thing that disappointed me most tonight. When you’re chasing a game, you need to be brave.”

What’s next?

Kilmarnock host Hearts on Sunday (15:00 BST), as St Johnstone welcome reigning champions Celtic at McDiarmid Park on Saturday (12:30).

Player of the game

armstrongDaniel Armstrong

Kilmarnock

  1. Squad number11Player namearmstrong

  2. Squad number5Player nametaylor

  3. Squad number33Player nameChrisene

  4. Squad number4Player namePower

  5. Squad number1Player nameHemming

  6. Squad number2Player namemayo

  7. Squad number6Player nameStokes

  8. Squad number8Player nameAlston

  9. Squad number7Player nameMcKenzie

  10. Squad number10Player nameJones

  11. Squad number26Player nameDoidge

  12. Squad number28Player nameLafferty

  13. Squad number9Player nameShaw

  14. Squad number17Player nameLyons

  15. Squad number19Player nameWright

St Johnstone

  1. Squad number5Player nameMitchell

  2. Squad number7Player nameMay

  3. Squad number6Player nameGordon

  4. Squad number17Player nameBair

  5. Squad number14Player nameWright

  6. Squad number1Player nameMatthews

  7. Squad number13Player nameMcGowan

  8. Squad number37Player nameclark

  9. Squad number4Player nameConsidin

  10. Squad number22Player nameHallberg

  11. Squad number2Player nameBrown

  12. Squad number27Player nameKucheriavyi

  13. Squad number21Player nameCrawford

  14. Squad number29Player nameMurphy

  15. Squad number11Player nameO’Halloran

  16. Squad number3Player nameGallacher

Line-ups

Kilmarnock

Training 4-2-3-1

  • 1Hemming
  • 2mayo
  • 5taylor
  • 6Stokes
  • 33Chrisene
  • 4Power
  • 8AlstonSubstituted forLyonsdid 65′minutes
  • 11armstrongSubstituted forWrightdid 89′minutes
  • 7McKenzie
  • 10JonesSubstituted forShawdid 77′minutes
  • 28LaffertySubstituted forDoidgedid 65′minutes

Substitutes

  • 9Shaw
  • 17Lyons
  • 19Wright
  • 20Walker
  • 21McInroy
  • 26Doidge
  • 27Cameron
  • 31Polworth
  • 32Warnock

St Johnstone

Training 5-3-2

  • 1Matthews
  • 14WrightSubstituted forBairdid 72′minutes
  • 5MitchellBooked at 52minsSubstituted forGallacherdid 57′minutes
  • 6GordonBooked at 34mins
  • 4Considin
  • 2Brown
  • 22Hallberg
  • 13McGowanBooked at 63minsSubstituted forO’Hallorandid 80′minutes
  • 21CrawfordSubstituted forKucheriavyidid 72′minutes
  • 7MaySubstituted forMurphydid 57′minutes
  • 37clark

Substitutes

  • 3Gallacher
  • 10Wotherspoon
  • 11O’Halloran
  • 12Parish
  • 16Mahon
  • 17Bair
  • 26McLennan
  • 27Kucheriavyi
  • 29Murphy

Referee:
Alan Muir

Waiting:
4,463

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