REMEMBER, remember the fifth of November. The Kilmarnock players are hardly likely to forget it in a hurry after Inverness Caledonian Thistle meted out a quite dreadful humping.
Prior to Saturday’s fireworks, Kenny Shiels, the Rugby Park manager, had talked of a “sense of confidence” about his squad as well as a settled look to the side “based on a sound defence”.
All of that went up in smoke over the course of 90, jaw-dropping minutes. As he raked over the debris, Shiels tried desperately to find something positive amid the mess, describing the outcome as one of those “freak results”.
There was nothing freakish about this, however. Even though they had fallen behind early on, the visitors were dominant throughout and could have rattled in a few more goals had it not been for the interventions of Anssi Jaakkola, the Kilmarnock goalkeeper.
Terry Butcher’s team played with pace, purpose and invention, ruthlessly exploiting Kilmarnock’s alarming defensive collapse in the second half and carving them open like a demented surgeon.
Four goals in 14 minutes after the break, a sizzling spell which saw Andrew Shinnie complete his hat-trick, swept the Clydesdale Bank Premier League’s bottom club into a 5-1 advantage as the hosts took complete leave of their senses.
When Manuel Pascali, the Kilmarnock captain, trudged into the media room grimacing like a man who had just singed his thumb on a sparkler, you sensed the post-mortem would be pretty gruesome.
“It was the worst performance ever, certainly the worst I have had in a Killie shirt,” said the Italian, who arrived in Ayrshire back in the summer of 2008. “Losing 6-3 at home really hurts. In football you can always lose but you can lose in the proper way.
“When we lost the third goal I thought that with our football we could equalise and maybe go on to win the match. But, we just lost the plot. We were atrocious and the last 30 minutes were the longest 30 minutes of my life.”
The Kilmarnock players now have a fortnight to soothe their wounds before resuming league business with a trip to face Hibernian. Pascali is certainly looking for a spirited response.
“We are going to watch the dvd of the game and we need to learn from it,” he said. “I remember last year we lost 5-0 at Aberdeen but still went on to finish fifth. We didn’t lose as a team. Now we have to show a lot of character.”
Level-pegging at half-time, after Dean Shiels’ opener had been cancelled out by Shinnie’s first strike, it was Jonny Hayes who provided the catalyst for a devastating second- half display as he lashed in a 25-yarder to put the visitors 2-1 ahead.
The 24-year-old has endured a fairly miserable campaign, dislocating his shoulder during a Scottish Communities League Cup tie with Ayr back in August and then picked up a groin injury not long after his comeback.
The Irishman has been due a break and got one at Rugby Park when he was drafted into the starting line-up at short notice after team-mate Shane Sutherland withdrew with a neck strain. Hayes made the most of his opportunity. “The last few months have been a bit of a nightmare,” he said.
After Hayes’ goal, Shinnie was gifted a third, before Gregory Tade added a fourth two minutes later. Shinnie strolled through unhindered to complete his hat-trick, which was then followed by a Sheils penalty and another Tade strike.
Paul Heffernan plundered another consolation for the home side but, by that stage, the Kilmarnock players were probably wanting to hurl themselves on to the nearest bonfire.
ONE MINUTE PUNDIT
12’ 1-0 Paul Heffernan’s tidy back heel sets up Dean Shiels for Kilmarnock’s first.
37’ 1-1 Andrew Shinnie darts in and digs out a fine finish from a tight angle.
52’ 1-2 Jonny Hayes unleashes a 25-yard shot into the bottom corner of the net.
60’ 1-3 Shinnie is gifted possession on the edge of the penalty area by Alex Pursehouse and strokes home.
62’ 1-4 Gregory Tade bursts through from the halfway line, rounds the goalkeeper and finishes with style.
66’ 1-5 Shinnie completes his hat trick as the Kilmarnock defence goes AWOL again.
71’ 2-5 Shiels scores from the spot after James Dayton is felled by Kenny Gillet.
83’ 2-6 Tade scores his second with a fine strike from the edge of the area.
90’ 3-6 Heffernan lashes home another consolation from 10 yards.