Kilmarnock 3-2 Dundee United: Gary Locke almost regrets change

Kilmarnock won their first home match since November.
Kilmarnock won their first home match since November.

Gary Locke thought his side had blown their chance of a winner as Kilmarnock defeated Dundee United 3-2 at Rugby Park.

Sammy Clingan fired in a late free-kick after the hosts had twice fought back from behind, but caretaker boss Locke thought he had made a mistake after substituting regular free-kick taker Alexei Eremenko minutes earlier.

"It was a goal fit to win any game and Sammy's got that in his locker, he's got a lot of quality," Locke told BBC Scotland.

"Looking at the free-kick I was kicking myself because I had Eremenko sitting beside me at the time, but Sammy's stepped up to the plate with a magnificent finish and I think we got what we deserved."

Locke took charge of the team for last weekend's 0-0 draw at Hamilton following Allan Johnston's departure, and led Kilmarnock to their first home win since December.

"It would have been easy for the heads to go down, but to come back from a goal down twice shows the character in the team," added Locke.

"I certainly didn't get my managerial career here off to a great start losing a goal so early.

"We played some decent stuff in the first half but in the second half that was more like us, that was the team that started the season.

"We played with a lot of energy, passed the ball well, and created a few chances which was great to see."

Chris Johnston squeezes in Kilmarnock second goal after a mistake from Radoslaw Cierzniak.
Chris Johnston squeezes in Kilmarnock second goal after a mistake from Radoslaw Cierzniak.

Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara lost Callum Morris to injury and felt it played a part in their defeat.

He said: "We lost a bit defensively with Callum Morris at half-time. I don't think we coped well enough at the back with the physical presence at the back, especially in the second half. I thought that showed in the end.

"The second half we were far too deep, with losing our main two centre backs it really showed.

"The three goals we lost were very poor to say the least and to concede a free-kick like that for the third goal was pretty disappointing.

"With it being the last kick of the ball, it's a sore one to take.

"In the first half, I thought we were excellent and could have had a few more goals.

"We were all linking together, there was good movement and we looked like we could score every time we went forward."