Combe shares credit for Kilmarnock success

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The Independent Football

The Kilmarnock goalkeeper Alan Combe believes that his side's achievement of reaching their first cup final under the manager Jim Jefferies is down to years of hard work.

Steven Naismith's hat-trick secured Kilmarnock's CIS Insurance Cup semi-final 3-0 victory against Falkirk at Fir Park on Tuesday night.

Combe made a string of crucial saves, including superb close-range stops from Carl Finnigan and Alan Gow. "I'm there to stop the ball going in the net and then you've got the wee man up front [Naismith] who is capable of shoving the ball in the back of the other team's net," Combe said.

"He did that and I had a couple of saves but the 11 players on the pitch worked extremely hard and everybody has done their job. So that's how we are in the final.

"It's all about hard work, and we've got ability in the team. When you put them together and have got guys that have a desire to succeed then you will go places. It's a pinnacle that we have got to the final, but it's all down to hard work and the boys in the team do put a lot of hard work in."

Combe was keen to praise his fellow goalkeeper, Graeme Smith, who played in the earlier rounds against Queen of the South, Livingston and Motherwell. Combe only started his first game of the season two weeks ago after Smith blocked his way back to the first team after a hip injury.

Combe said: "I was injured and big Smithy went in and did extremely well. Not forgetting he has played three games previous to this so he has done his bit as well.

"It's the whole squad. I am just delighted to be back in the team and we are keeping clean sheets so I must be doing something right."

Combe now hopes to keep his place for his first major final on 18 March.

He said: "I've been to the Challenge Cup final with St Mirren a few years ago but this is a national final and I'm just going to savour it at the moment and look forward to the occasion of walking out at Hampden."

Naismith described his emotions as "unbelievable" after his match-winning hat-trick. The 20-year-old said: "It's amazing getting to a cup final at such an early age. As a team we had a game-plan today and we played well and stuck to our task, and it showed."

Naismith, who has scored 13 goals this season and has been linked with a move away from Rugby Park, spent time training with Arsenal in the summer, but he said: "I'm glad to be here and it's an unbelievable feeling getting to a final. Falkirk probably had the better of the first half and then we scored on the break."

The third goal of his hat-trick came from the penalty spot and Naismith was determined to take the kick despite missing a recent penalty against Dundee United in the Scottish Premier League.

"I've had a fair bit of slagging for missing my last one, but I stepped up and scored and I'm delighted," he added.