Soccer

Derek McInnes sees plenty of positives as Kilmarnock continue Scottish Cup run

The cinch Premiership team knocked out League One Cove Rangers.

Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes in his role working for television in the ground ahead of the Viaplay Cup final at Hampden Park, Glasgow. Picture date: Sunday December 17, 2023.
Rangers v Aberdeen – Viaplay Cup – Final – Hampden Park Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes in his role working for television in the ground ahead of the Viaplay Cup final at Hampden Park, Glasgow. Picture date: Sunday December 17, 2023. (Steve Welsh/PA)

Derek McInnes was pleased as Kilmarnock continued their excellent form by defeating Cove Rangers to reach the quarter-finals of the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup.

After surviving an early scare, the hosts broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time when Marley Watkins netted for the second time in as many matches.

The second half was much more positive for Killie, and they would eventually put the game beyond doubt when Danny Armstrong came off the bench to fire home and seal a 2-0 win with 10 minutes left.

McInnes’ side have lost just once in their last 12 matches – a run that has seen them rise to fourth in the cinch Premiership table.

“It was a tie we had to overcome and there are plenty of positives, getting boys minutes, the clean sheet and getting into the next round was clearly the most important thing,” he said.

“We get the all important goal just before half-time, the team talk was still the same but in terms of the outcome, I think it knocks the stuffing out of Cove.

“We had better control in the second half, we kept them from our box a lot more, though it still wasn’t without its challenges.”

Kyle Vassell thought he had grabbed a third in added-time when he lifted the


ball over Suman but the referee deemed that the goalkeeper had recovered to scoop the ball off the line.

McInnes claimed: “I think (Kyle) Vassell’s goal is in, their keeper has admitted it.

“We could maybe have had added to the scoreline but I think any additions would have been harsh on Cove as I thought they were good value in the game.”

McInnes feels his squad is in a good place as Kilmarnock continue to impress in both the league and the Scottish Cup.

The Killie boss made six changes from the side that defeated Livingston in midweek, including handing a first start to Kevin van Veen.

There were signs of lethargy in their first half display, though they were much improved after the breaking the deadlock just before the interval.

“There were one or two changes who deserved opportunity through their training,” he added.

“We move on to Celtic now, that’s one defeat in 12, we’re going along nicely.

“We need a few more wins to get top six and the next time the cup comes round, I hope we go into it on the back of some good league form.”

Paul Hartley has urged his Cove players to push on and claim a League One play-off place as they head into the business end of the season.

The Toonsers were more than a match for their Premiership opponents in the first half and should have taken an early lead when Rumarn Burrell had an effort cleared off the line.

Hartley’s side currently occupy third spot in League One, however, only two points separates them and fifth-placed Alloa.

“We’ve got to dust ourselves down and get on with the league business, our challenge is to get into the play-offs with 13 games remaining,” he said.

“It’s the business end of the season and we want to get into the play-offs, it’s a tight league and it’s tight for a top-four spot.

“We’ve showed what we can do against a quality team that are the fourth best team in Scotland at this moment in time.”