Kilmarnock vs. Rangers – Football Match Report – December 23, 2017
Graeme Murty’s first match as a permanent Rangers boss ended in disappointment as Kris Boyd’s double earned Kilmarnock a 2-1 win at Rugby Park.
Having been handed the reins until the end of the season, Murty was hoping to boost his chances of landing a longer stay in the Ibrox hotseat by avoiding the kind of slip-ups his side suffered against Hamilton, Dundee and St Johnstone during his nine-game caretaker stint.
And it was looking positive as Declan John — fresh from converting his Cardiff loan switch into a three-and-a-half-year deal on Friday — swept them ahead six minutes before half-time.
But Rangers lived dangerously throughout the second half and found themselves on the losing end for the second week running as former Rangers hitman Boyd grabbed a quickfire brace late on to make it three home wins in a row for Steve Clarke’s side.
Josh Windass spurned Rangers’ first opening after eight minutes while Boyd was guilty of an even worse miss when he somehow failed to connect with Gary Dicker’s free kick having been allowed to wander unmarked by the Light Blues defence.
That set-piece came after James Tavernier flew into a challenge on Jordan Jones which sent the Killie winger sprawling.
Referee Willie Collum wasted no time booking the Rangers full-back but he was more reluctant to turn to his cards in the 23rd minute when Tavernier, who was having real trouble containing Jones, caught the Northern Ireland international for a second time.
Rangers finally made the breakthrough six minutes before the break. Windass’s quick throw caught the hosts napping and, after a slick exchange with Daniel Candeias and Tavernier, the Englishman fired a low ball across goal for John to tuck home from 12 yards out.
John’s tug on Stephen O’Donnell presented Killie with another free kick chance eight minutes after the restart and this time Boyd did get his head to Dicker’s delivery, only to see Wes Foderingham somehow palm over.
The hosts were turning up the heat on Rangers and it took another impressive Foderingham block to keep out Boyd soon after as the veteran striker ran onto Kirk Broadfoot’s knock-on, while Eammon Brophy could only find the side netting as he got on the end of O’Donnell’s cross.
But Rangers should have doubled their lead on the hour mark as Candeias picked out Windass at the back post, but the frontman could not keep his header down.
Clarke’s men were refusing to buckle and had it not been for Foderingham and Lee Hodson they would have levelled as Brophy and O’Donnell saw chances denied.
But they refused to relent and left Rangers stunned with two goals inside 60 seconds.
If their deserved equaliser in the 78th minute was well worked, with Brophy running free in the channel before sweeping across for Boyd to finish past Foderingham, the winner relied on a major stroke of luck.
There looked to be little threat as Youssouf Mulumbu dragged in a low shot from 25 yards out, but Boyd got a toe to the wayward strike to send it into the top corner.