“Maybe that’s an omen” – Tommy Wright on breaking Killie’s penalty curse

Kilmarnock manager Tommy Wright spoke to the press after his side scored a late equaliser and won a penalty shootout against Morton in the League Cup. Seán McGill reports.

(Photo Credit – SNS Group)

Tommy Wright was pleased with his side’s determination in their Premier Sports Cup tie against Greenock Morton on Tuesday night. Kyle Connell’s first goal for the Ayrshire club in the 91st minute sent the game to penalties, cancelling out Lewis McGregor’s stunning opener, before Zach Hemming’s heroics – saving three of the six Ton penalties – allowed Blair Alston to score the bonus point winning spot kick, much to delight of the returning Rugby Park faithful. 

“They kept knocking at the door, that’s one thing I give the players credit for. They didn’t give up. They kept going to the end, kept probing,” Wright said. 

“It’s always difficult when a team defends so deep and defends well and I think we got what we deserved. I think we should have won the game. We had numerous opportunities first half and we probably should have had a penalty when Jack Hamilton takes Kyle Connell out, but we didn’t get it, but to go on and win it on penalties is the best we could do after equalising so late.”

Many of the Killie fans lucky enough to see their team in action at home for the first time in over 500 days will have felt a sense of dread at the thought of penalties, with the club’s last victory in a shootout coming in 1984. Wright made it clear there was no pre-match chat about the poor record. 

“I didn’t even know about it to be honest, so it’d be quite difficult for me to mention it if I didn’t know about it,” Wright chuckled. “It’s a whole new group, so maybe that’s an omen. Maybe that’s a curse lifted off us.”

“They practice them. I still think it’s difficult to replicate the pressure that they feel when they take it, but I’m really pleased that Zach (Hemming) came up trumps. The one save that he makes with the wrong hand to his left is an incredible save and he kept us in it because we missed a couple.” 

The spot-kick success means that Killie remain alive and kicking in Group G of the Premier Sports Cup, but Wright admits progression to the last 16 won’t be straightforward. 

“Now we’ve got an opportunity. A win won’t guarantee us it, I think we might have to win by a number of goals. We can’t rely on other results, but obviously with the points being deducted, and the three goals, it’s almost like a double whammy, but we’ve got to deal with that. In my mind, the team are sitting on eight points and are unbeaten in the group, so from a perspective of trying to prepare for the league season we’re doing okay.” 

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