Kilmarnock 0 - 1 Hamilton: McCulloch replaces Locke after latter quits

Kilmarnock's narrow defeat by Hamilton at Rugby Park on Saturday had more ramifications than the loss of three valuable Ladbrokes Premiership points.

Hamilton goalscorer Carlton Morris, right, tries to fire in a cross at Rugby Park despite the attentions of Lee Ashcroft. Picture: SNS

A few hours after Carlton Morris’s second-half goal kept the Ayrshire side in the relegation play-off spot, it was confirmed that boss Gary Locke tendered his resignation.

It did not come as a complete surprise and indeed was probably welcomed by those Killie fans who had given the former Hearts manager stick during and after the match.

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Kilmarnock’s Board have reportedly targeted former Motherwell, Derby and Nottingham Forest manager Billy Davies as a replacement as they look ahead to next week’s William Hill Scottish Cup tie against Rangers at Ibrox.

In the meantime, Lee McCulloch is in temporary charge. The former Rangers defender, who joined Killie as a player and first-team coach in the summer, will be helped by assistant coach Peter Leven and youth coach Alan Robertson.

With only their second win in 17 games, Hamilton moved into eighth place, four points ahead of Killie and 15 ahead of bottom side Dundee United, albeit the Tannadice side have two games in hand.

Player/manager Martin Canning preferred to look at more recent form in his analysis.

He said: “We have lost one of the last five [league games]. We have drawn three, won one and lost one.

“So in terms of form we are competing and we are in the group of teams we are expected to be in.

“It was always going to be a hard season for us, a battle.

“There was always going to be five or six teams that there is not much between and we know where we are, we are in that group and we will continue to fight hard and work for every point we can get.”

Morris, who took his tally for the season to four, admitted fearing the recent 8-1 defeat by Celtic would affect the rest of the campaign, “especially with Hearts the next week”.

The Accies bounced back, however, with a goalless draw against the third-placed Jambos before their morale-boosting win over Killie.

The 20-year-old Morris, on loan from Norwich, said: “The Celtic game was a hard one to take but it was not the first time in football it has ever happened.

“We have a strong group of lads and there are no divas. So we had a talk and got over it pretty quickly and obviously we showed in a resilient performance against Hearts just what we are capable of.

“It was more about the result than the goal against Kilmarnock. It was a must-win game really.”

After the game Hamilton announced the departure of 31-year-old striker Christian Nade, who subsequently joined Championship side Dumbarton.

In a statement on the Sons’ official website, manager Stevie Aitken said: “I’ve been trailing Christian for five or six weeks now and I’m absolutely delighted that I’ve got him to sign for us.

“He’ll be an important piece of the squad’s jigsaw as we look to head up the league table in the run-in ahead of us.”