Kelly on the spot for Killie

Liam Kelly’s first-half penalty was enough to give Kilmarnock a

1-0 home win against Hearts in the SPL on Boxing Day.

There was little between the teams in the first half, which saw

Kelly score from the spot in the 26th minute after Gorgie defender

Andy Webster had fouled James Dayton.

However, the Tynecastle men laid siege to the Killie box at

times in the second period only to be denied by dogged defending

and some fine saves from keeper Cammy Bell.

Hearts will wonder how they managed to leave Ayrshire with

nothing for their efforts but that will worry Killie little, as

they leapfrog the Edinburgh men to move into sixth place in the


In the 15th minute, Killie striker Paul Heffernan had the ball

in the Jambos net but was ruled offside, and moments later Gorgie

defender Ryan McGowan did well to thwart Dayton as he tried to get

on to the end of a Cillian Sheridan cross from the right.

At the other end, Ryan Stevenson’s deflected shot was parried by

Bell and defender Michael Nelson beat Sutton to the loose ball, but

the Tynecastle striker was flagged offside.

However, it was the home side’s tricky wide-man, Dayton, who

earned Kilmarnock a penalty when he was tripped in the Hearts box

by Webster and Kelly confidently slammed the ball low past Jamie


Hearts began to play with more urgency and in the 33rd minute,

striker Gordon Smith drove a wonderful volley past Bell from 20

yards but referee Steven McLean had already blown for a foul in the


After Dayton fired wide from the edge of the box after cutting

in from the left, Rugby Park midfielder Borja Perez limped off to

be replaced by Lee Johnson before Smith headed an Andrew Driver

cross wide of the near post from eight yards.

Three minutes after the restart, Bell had to stretch high to his

left to push Driver’s goalbound drive from 20 yards behind for a

corner, which came to nothing but which signalled an intense spell

of Gorgie pressure.

As the game became a little tetchy, Dayton forced MacDonald into

a decent save with a drive from the edge of the box following a

Killie break.

However, Hearts remained on top and just after the hour mark a

powerful volley from Mehdi Taouil could only be parried by Bell but

Nelson calmly headed the loose ball back to his keeper.

In the 73rd minute Callum Paterson had a great chance when a

slip by Rugby Park stopper Momo Sissoko gave him possession in the

centre circle.

The Jambos substitute knocked the ball past Nelson to race

through one-on-one with Bell but the Killie keeper was equal to

what was an unconvincing shot.

In the 86th minute, Hearts captain Marius Zaliukas was shown a

yellow for tripping Heffernan as the Killie striker chased the ball

towards the Hearts penalty area, a decision which the home fans

thought far too lenient, with Sheridan sending the resultant

free-kick from 25 yards wide of the far post.

The visitors kept going through the four minutes of added time

but eventually ran out of time and ideas, leaving the Killie fans

and players to celebrate a welcome win.