Innes Cameron scored his first league goal of the season as Kilmarnock edged out Motherwell 1-0 at Rugby Park.
The striker, who came on to replace injured skipper Kyle Vassell early in the match, blasted David Watson’s cutback high into the roof of the net to give Killie the lead just after half-time.
The home side spurned numerous chances to extend their lead but the one goal proved enough as they moved back up to fourth in the cinch Premiership with their third straight home win.
Motherwell also came close through Paul McGinn but they fell to their sixth defeat in seven games to remain just a point clear of the relegation play-off positions.
Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes made just one change from his side’s surprise defeat to St Johnstone in midweek, bringing in Robbie Deas for Liam Polworth.
Motherwell boss Stuart Kettlewell, meanwhile, made four changes after his side’s loss to Aberdeen on Wednesday. Calum Butcher, Shane Blaney, Theo Bair and Mika Biereth all came into the starting line up.
It was the visitors who had the first chance of the match after two minutes as Dan Casey whipped in a dangerous inswinging cross but Theo Bair could only divert his header over the bar.
The hosts had their first opportunity in the 10th minute when Danny Armstrong sent a low right footed effort across goal and just wide of the far post.
Kilmarnock suffered an early blow when captain Vassell had to leave the field in the 16th minute, as Cameron was introduced.
In a scrappy first half which lacked quality, the next opportunity of note did not arrive until the 37th minute. Matty Kennedy whipped in an outstanding corner and Brad Lyons met it with a near-post header but Motherwell goalkeeper Liam Kelly made an outstanding reflex save to force it wide.
Stuart Findlay saw his volley deflect over from the resulting corner as the hosts finally began to exert some pressure.
Armstrong then sent a free kick narrowly over the bar in the 44th minute before Mika Biereth hooked a volley over the bar for the visitors as the match finally kicked into life going into the break.
Killie had been the better side as the first half ended and they took this momentum into the second period, taking the lead within five minutes of the restart.
A flowing move down the left led to Marley Watkins having a shot that was spilled by Well stopper Kelly. The Scotland goalkeeper did block Watson’s rebound but the youngster showed good composure to square to Cameron who rifled the ball into the roof of the net from eight yards out.
Watkins had two golden chances in quick succession for the hosts, first dragging the ball wide when one-on-one with Kelly from a tight angle and then failing to get a clean contact when played through by the impressive Deas.
Motherwell then had their best chance of the match just before the hour mark as McGinn drove through a wide open Killie defence but he could only shoot tamely at Will Dennis when he found himself through on goal.
Kilmarnock still looked more likely to score next, however, with Cameron heading straight at Kelly and Deas lashing a half-volley wide.
Kilmarnock’s failure to add a second led to a few nerves for their supporters but the visitors failed to create any more chances in the closing stages as the Rugby Park side held on relatively comfortably.
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