Why Kyle Lafferty will be on Kilmarnock penalties
As Kilmarnock head into the two biggest games of their season against Dundee in the Premiership play-off, one thing is certain: if Tommy Wright's men get a penalty Kyle Lafferty will be taking it.
Killie were comfortable in their 2-0 win over Hamilton Accies on Sunday as they did what they had to do to give themselves a chance of overtaking Ross County to finish tenth. It wasn’t meant to be with the Staggies defeating Motherwell.
Mitch Pinnock was the man of the moment for Killie, scoring a first-half brace, but he passed up the opportunity to make the victory more emphatic and bag himself a hat-trick.
He was given Lafferty's blessing to take the spot-kick in the second half only to see Accies’ teenage debutant Jamie Smith dive to his left to push away a well struck attempt.
When it comes to the next one, Pinnock won’t be going for the ball.
“I was happy to get the two goals but the penalty is a bit disappointing,” he said. “It’s always gutting missing a penalty for a hat-trick.
“The gaffer said at half-time if we got a penalty then Kyle was on them. But to be fair big Laff wanted me to get a hat-trick. He is a good guy like that.
“Unfortunately the keeper saved it which is gutting.
“The manager never said much about it. He just said to Laff – if I tell you to take it then next time you take it! He’ll be on the next one that’s for sure.”
Pinnock is one of Wright's trusted charges, starting the last 12 games, having had a stop-start Rugby Park career to date.
The Killie boss praised the player's “good attitude and quality” and he will likely be one of those he relies on to feed Lafferty or alleviate the attacking burden across the next 180 minutes.
And Pinnock “definitely” sees Kilmarnock as the favourites.
“We were talking about how in the last nine games or so we have scored 24 goals – we shouldn’t be in the position we are," Pinnock said.
“At the start of the season we were throwing away points and it caught up on us. But the recent form has been really good. We absolutely have to carry that on into the Dundee games.
“We have been averaging two goals a game so if we can keep it tight at the back there should be no problems.”
He added: “We are the Premiership team so we should be going into it like that. We are all positive – nobody is thinking the worst.”
If Kilmarnock were to survive it would still not compare to Pinnock’s time at AFC Wimbledon when the Dons were 10 points from safety going into a clash with Walsall in the middle of February in the 2018/19 season.
The team embarked on a run of only two defeats in 15 to survive on the final day.
“I’ve not really played in a game of this magnitude,” he said. “At Wimbledon we had to draw to stay in the league. That was similar.
“It looked a write-off – but we pulled together and managed to save ourselves. That helps.
"We are all experienced in this dressing room and we are switched on and ready.”
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