United have two games in hand and a home win over Aberdeen tonight will cause palpitations in the Rugby Park boardroom.
A minute’s applause to commemorate the death of Jim McFadzean, a member of the title-winning side of 1965, failed to inspire the current Kilmarnock squad, in spite of former West Ham and Real Madrid midfielder Julien Faubert making his first appearance for the Ayrshire club.
After eight minutes, County’s Alex Schalk did well to generate some power on a looping cross from Michael Gardyne but goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald was caught ball-watching as his header sneaked inside his near post.
Kilmarnock had more of the ball but the visitors created more and better openings. Gary Dickers, though, put the ball in County’s net but ref Stephen Finnie ruled that Gary Woods had been impeded by Rory McKenzie.
McKenzie tested Woods immediately after the restart but he kept out the midfielder’s full-blooded effort from 25 yards.
The second half was not nearly as eventful, with County happy to sit back and soak up the pressure from a clueless home side. Even then, they came close to extending their lead 12 minutes from the end when sub Liam Boyce headed against the post.
The clinching goal was delayed until a minute from time, when Brian Graham latched on to a long clearance to nod the ball over MacDonald, who was caught in no-man’s land. Killie now have just one win in their last 10 games and their top-tier status is in serious jeopardy.