The Football Critic: Josh Magennis

August 17, 2015

Back again, our resident critic has shaken off early season rustiness and is ready once more to give some individual player insight.

Teammates Jamie Hamill and Josh Magennis argue during Kilmarnock's 4-1 victory over Partick Thistle

Josh Magennis

Partick Thistle v Kilmarnock

Lone striker

25-years-old

***

After his goal versus Celtic, I could no longer pass over Josh Magennis without closer inspection. Over the past five years, he has evolved from a joke figure into cult hero and now operates as one of Kilmarnock’s most effective forwards. Even at Aberdeen he had something, if lacking the basic ability to trap the ball. His power, pace and attitude made him stand out as much as his comedic moments.

He has since improved the technical side to his game and has settled into a forward role – whether up front or on the wing – after being experimented with in his earlier years at Aberdeen. Though still with his deficiencies, he carries more threat in front of goal now and finished second top scorer in the league for Kilmarnock with eight goals, also providing seven assists.

He has Kris Boyd for competition now, though was selected ahead of the former Rangers striker for the match versus Celtic. In an interview earlier in the week, Magennis has spoken of Boyd’s influence and his willingness to learn from him, specifically recalling being encouraged not to dwell on missed chances. Magennis put this encouragement into practice against the champions, spurning an earlier one-on-one before his goal.

On to Saturday and Magennis’s first duty was to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick as his team found themselves under some early pressure from Partick Thistle. This theme was to continue throughout most of the first half, Magennis winning a few defensive headers commandingly while proving a fairly useful out-ball the few times Kilmarnock did manage to relive the pressure. He would win a flick on or pounce upon a loose ball but there’d be little product afterwards.

Harrying the away side into errors was an early tactic deployed by Partick Thisle and this is how they took the lead. A Kilmarnock throw in their own half was aimed towards Magennis and his looped header was a little slow and short for Jamie Hamill to do much with. Thistle had, before then, cleverly pushed enough players forward to have an extra man in that area. The subsequent mistake from Lee Ashcroft, however, allowed Kris Doolan to open the scoring and overshadowed any culpability on Magennis’s part.

Later in the half, a typical Magennis sequence led to Kilmarnock’s best move and opportunity of the match so far. Fed a long pass down the wing, Magennis collected the ball, gave it away and won it back, all within a few seconds. His tussle with Frédéric Frans and unconventional hold-up play led to a well-worked passing move and ended with him missing a fantastic opportunity to equalise.

Several missed Thistle chances later, and with half-time approaching, Kilmarnock did equalise after a cleverly-taken quick free kick which Magennis won the foul for. The Northern Ireland international then raced onto another long pass, this time down the opposite channel, before muscling past Liam Lindsay to cut inside and fire his shot off the post. Within a matter of minutes, Kilmarnock had gone from being lucky to being only one goal behind to being unlucky not to be ahead.

Magennis started the second half in a similar fashion to how he had ended the first. Another high ball sent him behind the Thistle backline and he worked his way past the recovering Frans before taking one touch too many and allowing Tomáš Černý to block his advances.

He missed another chance, aiming a free header straight at Černý and was indirectly involved in two of the game’s other major incidents. Magennis won a header as Frans piled into the back of him and as he sat protesting the lack of a free kick, his teammate Mark O’Hara had burst forward to draw a foul from Lindsay. Even though Kilmarnock fell behind to the ten men, Boyd came off the bench to score a late goal and rescue a point for his side.

The goal initially came from a Kallum Higginbotham corner, which Magennis stole off the toes of Boyd as he was about to unleash a volley towards goal. Whether aware of his error or not, Magennis remained composed and fed the ball back to Higginbotham whose cross led to the equaliser. Again, Magennis was involved, but in his own inimitable style.

Overall, Magennis provided a decent out-ball for his side at times, though his contribution afterwards produced mixed results. When dribbling he tends to keep his head down and this frequently leads to him either being easily dispossessed or leaves him unaware of his surroundings when choosing to shoot or pass.

One thing that certainly cannot be questioned is his recent productivity. In a side that has won four of their 15 matches since Gary Locke took over, Magennis has scored four and assisted three. That said, in his own unique way he provides a real threat to defences who want to push up – as evidenced by his latest two performances – and is much better when left to his instincts than given too much time to think.

Of that I am certain

Yours gratefully

The Football Critic

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