Tommy Wright enjoyed an emphatic first win as Kilmarnock manager as his side hauled themselves off the bottom of the Scottish Premiership and kept Motherwell in the dogfight.
Second-half goals from Rory McKenzie, Chris Burke and Mitch Pinnock secured a 4-1 victory for the hosts at Rugby Park.
Motherwell had quickly levelled through Barry Maguire following Kyle Lafferty’s first-minute opener and had a penalty claim rejected before half-time.
But they paid the price for some poor defending after the break as they missed the chance to all but secure their top-flight status before the split.
Killie’s first victory since January 9 saw them leapfrog Hamilton despite having taken just one point from their previous 10 matches, five of them with Wright in charge.
Wright had been overlooked for Graham Alexander when Motherwell changed their manager just before Killie and he opened his reign with a 1-0 home defeat by the Steelmen.
The former St Johnstone boss increased his strike options after that defeat with the capture of Lafferty, Alexander’s former Burnley team-mate, and the Northern Ireland forward struck his third goal in two matches.
Lafferty tried his luck with his left foot from 25 yards and Motherwell goalkeeper Liam Kelly was caught cold, palming the ball into the net.
Well levelled in the eighth minute when Maguire netted his first goal for the club, firing through a crowded goalmouth after Colin Doyle had parried a Jordan Roberts header.
Killie left-back Brandon Haunstrup hit the outside of the post before being fortunate not to concede a penalty after getting the wrong side of Stephen O’Donnell and nudging him over.
Doyle saved from Devante Cole after an innovative free-kick move and then tipped over Tyler Magloire’s header as Motherwell continued to look dangerous.
But the game changed inside two minutes early in the second period.
McKenzie nipped in between Magloire and Kelly before rounding the goalkeeper and tapping home in the 55th minute after Lafferty’s deflected shot had looped on to the six-yard line.
The visiting defence then failed to deal with Pinnock’s cross before Burke controlled and lashed high into the net at the back post.
Roberts volleyed off the outside of the post before Killie removed any doubt about the outcome in the 83rd minute. Magloire missed a long ball and Pinnock swept past Kelly.
The win moved Killie a point above Hamilton and seven behind fourth-bottom Motherwell.
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