Kris Boyd scored his 200th goal in Scotland’s top flight but his injury-time penalty miss cost Kilmarnock a point as Motherwell won the battle of the caretaker managers at Rugby Park.
Boyd completed his double century in the 32nd minute as Kilmarnock dominated the first half but first Ladbrokes Premiership goals from Carl McHugh and Zak Jules put Motherwell 2-1 ahead.
And the former Rangers striker smashed his spot-kick against the post as Stephen Robinson edged the contest of interim bosses with Lee McCulloch.
The Motherwell goals - a first for the club for McHugh and a first-ever for Jules - provided redemption for both scorers. McHugh suffered a serious concussion at Rugby Park on the opening day of the season and missed the first half of the campaign, while 20-year-old Jules had gifted a penalty and scored an own goal in his previous two matches.
Robinson stepped in after Mark McGhee was sacked following a 5-1 defeat by Dundee and he had full-backs Richard Tait and Steven Hammell back from injury. The Northern Irishman also brought McHugh back into a three-man central defence to join Ben Heneghan and Jules as they looked to stem the tide that saw them concede 17 goals in four games before their trip to Ayrshire.
Motherwell struggled to get forward though in their 5-3-2 formation and Boyd hit the free-kick into the wall before coming closer after a corner when he brought the ball down and fired off the underside of the bar. McHugh did brilliantly to block Kristoffer Ajer’s follow-up header.
Chris Cadden volleyed over in a rare Motherwell attack but Boyd missed two free headers before taking down Gary Dicker’s long ball, holding off a challenge and steering the ball in off the post to hit his milestone. Boyd’s first goal also came against Motherwell, in a 2-0 Rugby Park victory in November 2001.
Scott McDonald forced a save from Kilmarnock goalkeeper Freddie Woodman with a clever flick just before the break but it was obvious Motherwell needed to change something and Robinson made a double substitution at the break. He maintained the shape but brought on more attacking players: winger Elliot Frear and striker Ryan Bowman for Hammell and Lasley.
The visitors got a lift within five minutes of the restart. Louis Moult met Frear’s corner and McHugh reacted quickly to hit the ball high into the net from close range after the striker’s header was blocked on the line.
Both sides looked to win the game with Motherwell getting some decent balls in from wide areas and Killie continuing to carry a threat. Dicker hit the bar with a powerful 25-yard volley, via Craig Samson’s fingertips. The Motherwell goalkeeper touched over Kristoffer Ajer’s header from the resulting corner.
Woodman pulled off a decent save from McDonald’s shot from long range but could not keep out Jules’ close-range header from Frear’s free-kick in the 76th minute.
Motherwell looked to have withstood some late pressure until Frear got the wrong side of Callum Roberts and was penalised for a challenge by Bobby Madden, but Boyd failed to open his third century.