As we all know, Dundee are sitting bottom of the league and in need of a much needed victory while Kilmarnock's fortunes have took a turn for the better since the arrival of Steve Clarke.
We caught up with Russell Abercrombie from the One Team In Ayrshire podcast again to hear his views before the teams square off.
A lot has changed since we last spoke before our 1-1 draw at Rugby Park. Lee McCulloch is gone and a surprise appointment of Steve Clarke was made. Did this take the Killie fans by surprise?
Yes and no. It was certainly a surprise when you look at Clarke's standing in the game, especially down south. However, he does have a connection to the club with his older brother Paul having played over 350 times for us and having grown up less than 15 miles down the road in Saltoats. When McCulloch departed, he was what you'd have described as the dream, but unrealistic, appointment. I and many others are pleasently surprised to be proved wrong.
Two wins, two draws with the old firm and only one defeat since Clarke arrived has been a very impressive start to his career with Killie. What has he changed that wasn’t there before?
In one word - organisation. Under Lee McCulloch the players were there but they often looked as if they lacked a cohesive gameplan, Clarke has changed that and the players look well drilled. Paul McDonald, Academy Coach and the man who took charge of Killie for the trip to Firhill, brought back in Alan Power to the midfield which solidified the central area, and Clarke has mainly stuck with the set-up that day. Greg Taylor has been moved into midfield from left-back and he's given us legs in the middle that was lacking from guys like Stevie Smith.
Since Clarke has been in charge, I’ve heard a lot of positives about the set up and performances. Obviously taking away the two wins, did the team deserve more from the two draws and one defeat?
Our one defeat so far, at home to Hibs, was as frustrating a football match as you're likely to see. Killie hit the woodwork three times and had numerous attempts cleared off the line. The fact that the Kilmarnock support, notoriously fickle, applauded the team off at the end spoke volumes.
As for the two draws away in Glasgow, we definitely did enough to take all 3 points at Ibrox; however it would have to be a gargantuan performance to win at Celtic Park, but we just about did enough to earn the point.
The draw with The Rangers must had been something else? Seeing your keeper save the penalty only to go right up to equalise in injury time. That’s what football is all about!
A tremendous moment. The scenes in the away end were unforgettable. Getting a point in Glasgow is never a bad result, but the circumstances you described made it even sweeter. Especially considering we played the ball out from the back and didn't resort to pumping it long as teams would be forgiven for trying.
Going back to the first game between us two this season. Did you see the scoreline as a fair reflection of the game?
I'd say so, yes. Gordon Greer's mistake early on was one of the only errors he's made since joining but he atoned for that with the equaliser later on. We were however a much different side back then, and I'm far more confident going into the up-coming clash than I was back in September.
Kilmarnock has only lost once in their last five visits to Dens with the last three ending 1-1. Will we see a repeat of that scoreline? Or will the Dee eventually or Killie to continue their good form?
Given the positivity I've displayed so far, it would be typical of Kilmarnock to mess that up and lose comfortably this Saturday. However, this team seems different and there's a sense of hope and optimism around the club that's been missing for many a year. Dens is a great away day, even if we are stuck in the league's worst stand, so I'm hoping to see us at the very least keep up our good form against the City of Discovery's only top-flight team. Killie to sneak it 2-1.
As ever, the lads at Hibs Talk Podcast spoke to us ahead of todays clash.
We spoke last time before Hibs visited Dundee at Dens. Hibs were far by the better side that day but Dundee managed to grab their first point of the season. What was the thoughts from within the Hibs support after that game?
There was a lot of frustration but some understanding. Hibs had something like 17 corners, and kept trying the short corner, which Dundee seen through and snuffed out. But something you’re going to come up against a goalkeeper having one of his best displays of the season, and Bain was outstanding that day.
Since then you have only lost once in eight matches and in your last three games, been victorious in all three without conceding a goal. I take it it’s been a joy to watch the Hibees the past while?
Yeah, it’s been great. A lot of Hibs fans will be swaggering about their work place. Three wins in Seven days and before that great displays in the games against Celtic, Aberdeen and Celtic in the Cup.
You’re currently sitting third in the league, I know it’s still early in the season but surly most fans are eying up closing in on Aberdeen?
I think fans are semi realistic, and would be happy with 4th come the end of the season. But we have to be ambitious, and with Rangers a bit of a mess, and the possibility of McInnes leaving Aberdeen, there’s no reason why we can’t push for 2nd.
Paul Hanlon was recently called up to the Scotland squad, his first to the senior national team. A well-deserved call up for the defender?
I think so. He’s not the “answer” to Scotland’s defensive issues. Personally, I think Soutar at Hearts with Cooper of Leeds is the long-term solution. But you need squad depth, and I see no reason why Hanlon can’t be a Scotland squad player.
You recently seen your good form rewarded with a win in the Edinburgh derby. I make that the eight Derby without defeat for you lot. What did you make of Hearts?
Hearts are in transition; however, it seems they’ve “been in transition” for years. Eventually you have to get a basis of a team, a core or a spine, whatever you want to call it. Hearts main issue is they have no width, and that was obvious at Easter Road. So, I couldn’t believe when they lined up with a diamond formation against Rangers, and you could tell Rangers had done their homework.
Simon Murray seems to be getting his name on the scoresheet again, as is Martin Boyle. What other threats up front do Hibs have in their arsenal?
Barker makes up the front 3 and is getting better and better each game. Fantastic dribbler who is taking on more players as his confidence grows. Only problem is he always cuts back on to his right foot, and I think every Right Back in the league knows that now. Will be interesting to see if Stokes gets back in the team if fit.
Dundee have been playing good football but unfortunately the results haven’t been coming hand in hand with them. Do you think you will see McCann stick to his guns with his style of play or do you expect him to mix it up, especially since Easter Road is a tough place for us to visit?
He’ll stick to his guns and I back him to do it. Dundee have too many good players to go down, and its only November. Given the choice would Dundee fans rather be patient and have great football that eventually clicks but always guarantees exciting football, giving say an 8th in the league finish with something to build on for next season. Or hoof ball tactics, a boring season and 6th.
The big question now, can Hibs make it four wins in a row or can Dundee end their horrible run of defeats and maybe move off the bottom of the table?
Yes, we can, and I’ll go for 3-1 Hibs, however I would not be surprised if the battle of the two Neil’s resulted in another draw.
Poor defending and lacking any end product upfront was the catalyst to a fourth straight defeat in a row for the Dark Blues, with three happening in the space of a week.
“I don’t like being down at the bottom of the table. I’m trying to change things here so that we’re not looking down in that direction,” said McCann.
“All the other teams who’ve started to come above us now have been through a difficult period and we’re experiencing one now.
“The only way to get out of it is to get the boys to be brave and still believe in what we’re doing.
“This is when you need to use a lot of your man-management skills to gather the boys and make sure they become stronger characters.
“Our game has been really attractive to watch without getting results but we need to do the ugly side of things as well.
“I’m not going to roll over. We’ll get back to work to try and become harder to beat.
“We’ve got a young group and this is when they become men, when it’s difficult at times.
“Without stating the obvious we need to work on our defensive side of things. There’s a real sense of disappointment because the goals we lost were very poor.
“Again, we were in control of the match and then we get done by a sucker-punch at the first one just before half-time.
“It’s a bit indicative of our season that we’re losing such soft goals.”
Paul McGowan also spoke of his shock that the Dee were at the bottom of the pile.
“It’s hard to say that we’re bottom of the league,” said McGowan.
“I can’t believe how it’s happened because of the way we’ve been playing.
“But you’re not going to get anywhere if you’re not scoring and you’re conceding poor goals.
“We’re a young squad and it’s a learning curve but we need to learn quickly.
“Before you know it, you’re staring down the barrel.”
W T F!!
Who was your man of the match against Hamilton in today's game?