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Derek McInnes ‘absolutely delighted’ as Kilmarnock crowned Championship winners

Derek McInnes’ Kilmarnock were crowned champions on Friday night (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Derek McInnes’ Kilmarnock were crowned champions on Friday night (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Derek McInnes admitted he was “absolutely delighted” after his Kilmarnock side won the Scottish Championship title after a dramatic late 2-1 comeback victory over nearest title rivals Arbroath.

James Craigen finished off an excellent counter-attacking move to put the visitors ahead and – after being booed off at half-time – Killie stepped it up in the second-half, equalising through Ash Taylor before Blair Alston’s stoppage-time winner caused absolute bedlam at Rugby Park.

McInnes said: “I’m absolutely delighted. Sometimes you don’t know how players are going to react, sometimes they’re too excited or sometimes nervous.

“I thought Arbroath were excellent in the first half and we needed to be more of what we have been in the last while.

“Half-time came at a good time for us and we managed to regroup and we asked the players to back themselves more and show more composure.

“I thought we dominated the second half. It was just about if we got that goal early enough to give us the chance of getting the second one as well.

“You were beginning to think it wasn’t going to be our night after we were weren’t awarded what I thought was a penalty and Derek Gaston made a couple of terrific saves as well.

“When I came here, I was told that we lacked this and that, but quickly I learned that there is a lot of personality in these players and they just needed it brought out them and we needed to give them more confidence and make sure they enjoyed playing at home.

“When you see nights like tonight, it just shows how big the club is and that’s why I wanted to become the manager of Kilmarnock.

“The whole country wanted Arbroath to win tonight and I get that, but the best team wins the league and that’s a fact.

“It’s not easy winning leagues and we had to do it the hard way.

“It would’ve been tough for us to go again next week if we didn’t win tonight but when the questions were asked, we have answered them.

“I’m delighted for everyone associated with the club.”

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