Why Kilmarnock’s Jamie MacDonald may be goalkeeper of the season

first_imgAlmost a year ago, Inverness were crowned Scottish Cup champions and John Hughes was the toast of the Highlands after leading the club to an impressive league finish. Since that Scottish Cup victory, things have been difficult.Granted, they have lost key players, with the likes of Graeme Shinnie, Ryan Christie and Marley Watkins moving on to pastures new, but Inverness have won just eight league games since their Scottish Cup triumph, and are only five points above the relegation playoff places. Defeat in the Highland derby would all but end their diminishing hopes of finishing in the top six, but worse still, would place them firmly in the relegation mire.Meanwhile, in Dingwall, Ross County are likely to secure a position in the top half of the table, and will finish the season with the League Cup in their trophy cabinet. Jim McIntyre has built a balanced squad, capable of challenging any side on their day. Bragging rights in the Highlands are with the more northerly of the sides. by Thom Watt STVAs we move towards the business end of the season, thoughts begin to turn to who should be in the running for individual awards. While goalscorers and goal creators inevitably get attention, there’s a fascinating debate to be had as to the top goalkeeper in the division.While there are plenty of goalkeepers who have kept more clean sheets, or won their side more points than Kilmarnock’s Jamie MacDonald, there are unlikely to be many who could have such a pivotal role in their season’s fate. Kilmarnock have been incredibly poor defensively for the entirety of the season, but their goalkeeper has kept them in matches when they should have been finished, and helped to squeeze out valuable points.Killie are unbeaten against Celtic in two matches this season, and the former Hearts and Falkirk goalkeeper has played a pivotal part in that, despite facing 48 shots in two fixtures. He’ll expect to be very busy again this weekend. STV Victory for Ross County would all but confirm their position in the top six at the end of a hugely-successful campaign. SNS GroupMark McGhee may insist that his team has been ravaged by illness, but he has taken Motherwell from relegation battlers to the top six, with minimal changes to playing staff. He faces his former club in Aberdeen this weekend, having won eight league matches since taking over six months ago. In stark contrast, in his first season at Pittodrie he only won ten in the whole campaign.Why are Motherwell improving? McGhee may have made his name at Motherwell as an attacking manager, but it’s in defence where there’s been a marked improvement, limiting their opponents to fewer shots. Over the last ten matches they’ve conceded an average of 10.6 shots per game, in comparison to 12.5 in the ten matches previous. They’ve won three matches in a row, and haven’t managed four since New Year of 2014. STVWe’ve covered this before, but it’s worth revisiting.There have been a ridiculous amount of penalties this season, far more than in either of the previous seasons. In 2013/14 there were 52 penalties, last season there were 49. This season we’ve had 64 already.While it’d be easy (and in some cases fair) to point at certain referees’ willingness to award spot-kicks, there has to be a more tangible reason for such a dramatic increase, beyond the discretion of the officials. What if we look at why penalties are awarded, or who it is that’s drawing the foul?Anecdotally, it would appear as if there have been far more penalties awarded for fouls on “tricky” players. The vast majority of spot-kicks are awarded for fouls, as opposed to handball, and wingers seem to be drawing the most fouls in the box.last_img

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