Soccer

Marley Watkins and Danny Armstrong score as Kilmarnock east past Cove Rangers

The cinch Premiership team are in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup.

Kilmarnock’s Marley Watkins celebrates with team-mate after the final whistle in the Viaplay Cup second round match at The BBSP Stadium Rugby Park, Kilmarnock. Picture date: Sunday August 20, 2023.
Kilmarnock v Celtic – Viaplay Cup – Second Round – The BBSP Stadium Rugby Park Kilmarnock’s Marley Watkins celebrates with team-mate after the final whistle in the Viaplay Cup second round match at The BBSP Stadium Rugby Park, Kilmarnock. Picture date: Sunday August 20, 2023. (Steve Welsh/PA)

Kilmarnock booked their place in the last eight of the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Cove Rangers.

The hosts survived an early scare when Rumarn Burrell’s shot was cleared off the line, before Marley Watkins netted for the second successive game to open the scoring on the stroke of half-time,

Derek McInnes’ side were dominant after the break, though it would take until the 80th minute for the game to be put beyond doubt, Danny Armstrong drilling low beyond goalkeeper Nick Suman.

Kevin van Veen was handed his first start for Killie as McInnes made six changes from the side that defeated Livingston in the cinch Premiership on Wednesday evening.

Corrie Ndaba returned from suspension, while Matty Kennedy, Liam Polworth, Fraser Murray and Rory McKenzie were also handed starting berths.

Michael Doyle and Josh Kerr both returned to the Cove starting line-up, replacing Matthew Shiels and Cameron Stewart from the side that drew 2-2 with Stirling last time out in League One.

Killie had an early penalty shout waved away when Kennedy fell to the ground following good skill from Van Veen.

The visitors came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock after eight minutes, Will Dennis punched Arron Darge’s cross as far as Burrell – who saw his goalbound effort hacked off the line by Murray.

Watkins fired over the bar before dragging a low shot wide as Suman was given a quiet start to the afternoon’s proceedings.

On the rare occasion the lethargic looking Premiership team did threaten it was Van Veen who was their driving force, glancing a header against the top of the crossbar and then stinging the palms of Suman with a drive.

There was little to separate the sides as half-time approached, but the hosts would strike just before the break.

Kennedy’s shot was sent spinning behind for a corner and Ndaba knocked down Polworth’s delivery for Watkins to stab beyond the keeper.

Buoyed by their opener, Killie made the brighter start to the second half and there were chances  for Van Veen, Kennedy and Watkins in the 10 minutes following the restart.

The visitors were finding it difficult to muster much of a threat on goal and Darge blazed high and wide of the target as the game approached its final stages.

The home supporters breathed a sigh of relief as Kerr was let down by a heavy touch after William Gillingham had flicked a low cross into his path.

It was a moment that Rangers would be left to rue when Armstrong blasted home shortly after coming off the bench to double Killie’s advantage with 10 minutes remaining.

Kyle Vassell thought he had grabbed a third in added-time when he lifted the ball over Suman but the referee deemed that the keeper had recovered to scoop the ball off the line.