Dylan Levitt, mistakes, pyro - How Kilmarnock and Dundee United served up a proper cup tie as Premiership side won 2-1
Potential of an upset, goals, tension, mistakes, villains, momentum swinging, big travelling support, atmosphere, late drama and, why the hell not, pyro.
Kilmarnock against Dundee United at Rugby Park fulfilled many, if not all of those wishes as the visitors progressed into the fifth round courtesy of a special extra-time for Dylan Levitt, winning 2-1.
In terms of the shock-o-meter ahead of the match, it would have landed in the ‘HOT’ zone.
In the home corner, a team pushing for the Championship title under Derek McInnes, the master of reaching the latter rounds of the cup at Aberdeen. In the visiting corner, a top-flight side on a six-game losing run.
Early on, the simple task of dealing with long balls became as complex for Kilmarnock as solving the Collatz Conjecture. All the more baffling considering the three centre-backs are about 37ft combined.
There weren't even four minutes on the clock when a long Scott McMann ball dropped over Jack Sanders and Ash Taylor. Marc McNulty broke free and toe-poked the ball past Zach Hemming via the post. It was greeted by a plume of orange smoke at the other end of the pitch from the travelling support.
The first 20 minutes saw a clear chasm between the two sides. United’s back three made Killie's look like a back five as Courts had his wing-backs pushed high up the park. Dylan Levitt schemed and conducted.
United weren’t overly subtle in their build-up. A Las Vegas-esque neon sign may well have been pointing in behind the right-hand side of the Kilmarnock defence. ‘We're attacking here’.
Twice Hemming had to be alert to Kieran Freeman breaking into the box.
Therein lies a clear issue with Dundee United. The ability to be clinical. They had gone in front for the first time in seven matches. They have scored more than once in 90 minutes just four times all season.
Only St Johnstone have scored fewer in the Premiership. Dundee have found the net once more. Damning.
Tony Watt, it is hoped, will change that. He started very brightly but, as part of the collective, faded with Kilmarnock growing into the game before becoming the better and more dominant side.
Against Queen of the South, Partick Thistle and then against United, this was a team slowly growing under McInnes. They were too passive out of possession and ponderous in it for periods of the first half.
Throughout, the home side were aided by some mistake-ridden defending.
Moment of quality
In the 20th minute, Mulgrew hesitated as Oli Shaw flicked on to allow Rory McKenzie to score at the second attempt after Benjmain Siegrist pushed the ball back into a dangerous area.
Shaw, Taylor and Blair Alston all went close before United nearly won it at he death when Watt set up Ilmari Niskanen whose low shot struck the base of the post before the full-time whistle.
It is often the case, the extra 30 minutes can be uneventful and slog. In keeping with the nature of this cup tie, that wasn’t the case at Rugby Park. Killie pushed and pushed but it was the visitors, courtesy of a fine solo effort from Levitt, who progressed.
Kilmarnock (3-4-3): Hemming; Sanders, Taylor, Stokes; F. Murray, Alston, Tait, Haunstrup ; McKenzie, Mackay, Shaw.
Dundee United (3-4-1-2): Siegrist; Edwards, Mulgrew, McMann; Freeman, Butcher, Levitt, Sporle (Niskanen 66’); Clark; Watt, McNulty.
Referee: Willie Collum
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