The final few games are always the most nerve-wracking and stressful time of the season for us Killie fans. Usually we are hovering around the relegation zone, wondering if we are going to be last or second from last come the split. However, there’s a nice change from the status quo this year, as we could still be in with a shout of a top 6 finish.
That is, until you look at our remaining games before that all important split. The SFA gods have not looked kindly upon us this year. It is possibly one of the hardest final pre-split fixtures we’ve had in recent years. Here I’ll take a look at each game in detail and assess our chances in the game.
V INVERNESS CALEDONIAN THISTLE (AWAY) 01/04/17
This game could possibly be the biggest of the lot. Inverness are a team desperately in need of points as they try to keep themselves in the division. They have been inconsistent all season, and will look to go into the split on a good run of form. Our two previous meetings this season have ended in 1-1 draws, so there really isn’t a lot separating us, albeit Inverness grabbed a completely undeserved late leveller last time out at Rugby Park.
Both teams have been pretty shy in front of goal this season, and have been very shaky at the back as well. However, while we have been improving in recent weeks, Caley haven’t really kept pace and they are in danger of slipping even further away from safety. This game is definitely a huge six pointer, and whoever comes out on top will have a good springboard for the remaining three games. Here’s what Inverness fain Craig McLean had to say about the fixture:
“Our form has picked up in recent weeks, we finally got our first victory since October a few weeks ago at home against Rangers. Our home form has also been quite steady of recent so I fancy our chances against Kilmarnock. It’s a big game for both teams with a hard run of fixtures for you after meaning it’s a must win for top 6 hopes. However it’s a must win for us too to try to leave Hamilton rooted to the bottom and edge away from automatic relegation. I think considering both teams current form, and the 2 previous meetings this season, as well as our own struggle to finish teams off, a draw seems the most likely final result.”
V RANGERS (HOME) 05/04/17
I feel like this could be a make or break game in terms of our challenge for the top 6. With Partick playing Celtic the same night, it is a huge opportunity for us to leapfrog them in the table. Although Rangers have seen an upturn in form recently with the arrival of their new manager, we must believe that we can still take something away from the game. Although we were well beaten 3-0 at Ibrox, we held them to a 1-1 draw at Rugby Park in August so this is what we must take inspiration from. Even though Rangers have been scoring a lot of goals recently, they are still quite shoddy in defence so if Boydy and the fish are on form then they can cause Kiernan and Hill some major problems.
The one player that we must make sure we watch closely is Barry McKay. He has been in fine form this season with his dazzling skills and accurate shooting, so we cannot allow him any time on the ball. The defence and midfield must work together to limit the space given to every Rangers player, and if we do this then we should be able to frustrate them. As it’s on a Wednesday night and on TV, hopefully the boys will see this as an opportunity to show Scotland what they can do, and go out and get a positive result.
V CELTIC (AWAY) 08/04/17
Without a doubt our hardest game out of the four. It is very hard to see us taking anything from it, given that Celtic have yet to lose a game this season and have only drawn twice. However, we must always hope and maybe we can be first team to take the three points off of them. Someone’s got to do it right?
But to do that, it will take a lot of hard work, from both the players and the fans. We have to be on their backs for the whole 90 minutes, and not allow them to settle on the ball. We must maintain our concentration for the full game, and not give away cheap free-kicks or corners. Us fans need to show up in numbers, and help encourage the players and create a good atmosphere. The players need to stick especially close to dangermen Sinclair and Dembele, and not allow them to get a clear sight of goal.
Celtic Park used to have an intimidating atmosphere, but it really doesn’t any more, and if the players play with no fear, then there’s no reason why we can’t go there and get a result.
V HEARTS (HOME) 14/04/17
By this point, the race for 6th could well be over, or it might come down to how this game pans out. We’ve had a real mixed bag of results against the Jambo’s so far this year. In October, we beat them comfortably 2-0 at Rugby Park thanks to a couple of fantastic goals from Coulibaly and Stevie Smith. However, in December, we were thrashed 4-0 in the reverse fixture at Tynecastle. Hearts are on a very bad run of form at the minute, so hopefully this will continue and we can pick up an easy three points.
Connor Sammon will be a big miss for the game, as he has played well since coming on loan from our opponents for this game. However, I still think that if we perform to the best of our ability, we can definitely get a result that will hopefully cement a top 6 place.