Following on from a magnificent campaign under the guidance of Steve Clarke, Kilmarnock look like carrying on their momentum into the 2019/20 season.
Despite not grabbing the same levels of attention for their early performances under new boss Angelo Alessio, the Rugby Park side are quietly demonstrating their credentials to back up last season’s third place finish. And after both Aberdeen and Motherwell suffered defeats on Sunday, they returned to third in the Scottish Premiership table.
It was a summer of transition and after Clarke agreed to depart Killie to take up the role of Scotland manager, the club decided to look outside of many of the usual candidates – instead opting for former Chelsea, Italy and Juventus assistant boss Alessio.
The story so far
Things got off to a dreadful start as Welsh league part-timers Connah’s Quay Nomads overcame a 2-1 first-leg loss to register a 2-0 success at Rugby Park, dumping Killie out of the Europa League at the first hurdle.
Opening the season with defeats against Rangers and Hamilton, the pressure was mounting on the Italian. But he has proven the doubters wrong in the months that have followed.
Killie have lost just once in their last 10 matches – a 3-1 defeat at Celtic Park.
During this run they have kept eight clean sheets and picked up victories in their last three successive Scottish Premiership fixtures. Heading to Fir Park a point above the hosts in the league table, an intriguing clash awaits.
How they shaped up last time
Three to watch
Having already racked up six clean sheets this season, Romanian goalkeeper Laurentiu Branescu is settling in very well in the Premiership.
The 25-year-old joined the club on a season-long loan from Juventus in July, his sixth spell in a row out on loan, having been with Haladas in Hungary, Omonia in Cyprus, Dinamo Bucharest in Romania and, at the start of last season, Gorica in Croatia.
Branescu has credited legendary Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon for teaching him everything he knows about goalkeeping, having spent two years as understudy to the World Cup winner between 2012 and 2014. He may have a long way to go to reach the levels of his former teammate, but in his first few months in Scotland he has shown plenty of positive signs.
Killie captain Gary Dicker has been pivotal in helping the Rugby Park side bounce back from their early season setbacks to demonstrate their credentials to again mount a challenge at the top end of the table.
Dicker, who has been capped four times for the Republic of Ireland’s Under 21s, recently scored his first goal for Kilmarnock in over two and half years when he opened the scoring in the 2-1 win over Livingston and it’s started somewhat of a scoring streak, as he added the winning goal against St Mirren on Saturday.
So far this season Dicker has contested the fifth highest amount of defensive duels in the Scottish Premiership. And while his role in the team is often understated, there should be little doubt as to how integral he is to Angelo Alessio’s side.
Dom Thomas will be a name very familiar to ‘Well fans, though his three seasons at Fir Park may be looked back upon as a time in which the youngster didn’t quite reach the heights expected.
A run of games was something that eluded Thomas for most of his spell with the Steelmen, though there were glimpses of his abilities and most notably he played a big role in the club lifting the Youth Cup at Hampden with a 5-2 victory over Hearts.
After joining Kimarnock in July 2017, Thomas has had a loan spell with Queen of the South and then with Dumbarton where he scored 15 goals last season. Under Angelo Alessio, the winger is mounting a challenge for a starting berth and will be determined for the chance to show his former club what they are missing.
Tickets are available online now or from the Fir Park ticket office. You can also pay at the gate.
|Adult||£24 / £20|
|Over 60s / 16-18s / Students||£17 / £16|
|Ticket for one adult plus two under 16s||£28 / £24|
The cheaper price is for our John Hunter stand only.
Away supporters can pay at the gate.
Fans who require ambulant or wheelchair access should contact Andy Sim on 07428 225254 or email email@example.com.
Can’t make it? Watch or listen live
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