Regularly on the other end of four-goal hidings this season, Kilmarnock finally produced one of their own when it mattered most. Their biggest victory of the campaign brought them to within four points of Hamilton in tenth place with three games remaining, giving the Ayrshire club real hope of pulling off a miraculous escape.
While Kilmarnock arrived with a stubborn determination not to be consigned to the relegation play-offs, Hamilton looked like a team who thought they only had to turn up to secure top flight safety. They may have been on the receiving end of some questionable calls, but there could be few arguments with the result.
“We still have it all to do,” insisted Kilmarnock boss Lee Clark. “We’re four points behind and they’re still in charge. But if we play like that and get three wins from three, which is a big ask, we can get out of it.”
The first bit of controversy came in the build-up to Kilmarnock’s opener. Accies were certain that the ball had crossed the line as Rory McKenzie looked to cut it back from the byline. A goal kick wasn’t given and McKenzie found Greg Kiltie, who fired into the far top corner.
MacKinnon was booked for his raging dissent at assistant referee Kylie McMullan and the home side were grumbling again on 32 minutes when Kiltie played a neat one-two with Kris Boyd, broke the offside trap and coolly slotted past Michael McGovern.
Two minutes later a reckless challenge from Mark O’Hara on Antons Kurakins was mercifully adjudged to have been worth only a booking, again much to the chagrin of the home support. But while it may have been another 50-50 decision going against Hamilton, it underlined their hopeless situation as only a cataclysmic error would grant them hope of getting back into the game.
Accies fans, chatting amongst each other at the break, may have remarked that their team couldn’t play any worse in the second 45. On the contrary, still failing to grasp the severity of the situation, there was no reaction following the restart and Kilmarnock quickly put the game to bed.
While contesting a bouncing ball with Josh Magennis down the right-hand side of the penalty area, Lucas Tagliapetra inexplicably decided to punch it away with his right hand. A penalty was given, which Boyd tucked away.
Magennis looked to have added a fourth when he headed home, only to be flagged offside, though the linesman’s flag succeeded only in delaying the inevitable as Magennis squeezed a low drive through the legs of McGovern.
It was left to the Hamilton PA to sum up the feeling of dejection among the Accies ranks. He said glumly: “There was no man of the match today because, quite frankly, none of them deserved it.”
Hamilton won’t be the only team feeling blue after this result. Partick Thistle have now been pulled into the relegation scrap, sitting six points ahead of Kilmarnock, while Dundee United could be relegated at the home of rivals Dundee tomorrow.