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Csaba Laszlo <-auth Ewing Grahame auth-> Charlie Richmond
21 of 027 Bruno Aguiar 61 ;Hristos Karipidis 80 L SPL A

Kilmarnock wary of Scottish Cup replay shock at home to Ayr

Kilmarnock entertain Second Division Ayr United in a Homecoming Scottish Cup replay on Thursday and Australian winger Danny Invincibile has admitted that he and his team-mates are approaching the tie with trepidation

By Ewing Grahame

This was their seventh defeat in eight matches at Rugby Park and, consequently, a sense of unease is justified.

Kilmarnock dominated Hearts for three-quarters of this encounter but were caught out by two counter-attacks. Ayr's representatives will have watched with interest.

"Is our home form a worry ahead of the Ayr game? Yes," Invincibile admitted. "It's been bad. We've gone away to Hearts, Hibs and Dundee United and won and they're all in the top six and pulling away from the rest of the pack.

"Why can't we do it at home? I don't know but it is a problem. We've touched on it in the dressing room and our performances have been OK but we just can't seem to get the points.

"However, we can't lose on Thursday: that's the last thing in the world we want. We want to get that winning feel back here again. The rivalry with Ayr means that losing isn't an option. I wouldn't even go for a walk in the town if we lost.

"Apart from anything else, we wouldn't be able to leave the dressing room for about two days. It's unthinkable: it can't happen."

Unfortunately for Killie, it can. They have been eliminated on the last four occasions they've been drawn together, in spite of Ayr being in a lower division each time.On Saturday, they paid for their profligacy. They could have been home and hosed by half-time but David Fernandez, Manuel Pascali and Invincibile all spurned glorious opportunities.

Hearts were content to soak up all the pressure and it was a bonus for them when Bruno Aguiar put them in front with a glorious strike from 20 yards.

Christos Karipidis, who gave a master class in the art of the holding midfielder, sealed the victory nine minutes from time, heading home from close range after Christophe Berra had helped on Michael Stewart's free-kick. It was the first time in more than 10 months that Hearts had won by more than a single goal and, while their performance was uninspiring, it kept alive their hopes of securing a Uefa Cup place.

Manager Csaba Laszlo admitted that it had not been a "fantastic" football match but was consoled by the fact that his team had kept the pressure on third-placed Dundee United.

With a home match against hopeless, hapless Inverness on Saturday followed by a visit to Hamilton, they now at least have the chance to generate some momentum.

Match details

Kilmarnock (4-4-2): Combe; Fowler, Ford, Wright, Hay; Invincibile (Gibson 74), Pascali, Bryson, Taouil; Russell (Simmonds 72), Fernandez. Subs: Rascle (g), Murray, Skelton, Flannigan, Nolan. Booked: Bryson.

Hearts (4-1-4-1): McDonald; Neilson, Jonsson, Berra, Thomson; Karipidis; Obua, Stewart, Aguiar (Glen 79), Driver (Cesnauskis 73); Nade. Subs: Kello (g), Mrowiec, Templeton, Rapnik, Brown. Booked: Aguiar, Jonsson, Obua.

Referee: Charlie Richmond.

Taken from

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