Alex Dyer felt Kilmarnock’s first win of the season was “definitely” worth the wait as they chalked up a stylish 4-0 home victory over Dundee United.
The home side went into the game on the back of three defeats and two draws, but a double from Nicke Kabamba and goals from Eamonn Brophy and substitute Rory McKenzie kept all the points in Ayrshire.
“I have always said it was coming with the way we have trained and played since the start of the season,” said Dyer, the Killie manager.
“It was important the lads kept believing in what we are trying to do and they never dropped their heads, even when they didn’t get the right results.
“We have come in every day and worked hard and showed today, with a little bit of fortune, we got the right result.”
After the start was delayed to fix one of the goal nets, United showed an early threat with Logan Chalmers driving wide of the target in the tenth minute.
Killie, with defender Zeno Ibsen Rossi making his debut after signing on loan from Bournemouth, slowly got into the game. Tannadice keeper Benjamin Siegrist saved Chris Burke’s angled drive after he was played in by Kabamba, back in the side to partner Brophy.
Former Hearts defender Clevid Dikamona took over from the injured Stuart Findlay to make his Killie debut before the home side took the lead.
Calum Waters’ delicious delivery from the left was met by the head of Kabamba, who gave Siegrist no chance from seven yards for his first goal of the season.
The home side doubled their lead, just after the board went up to show two minutes added time. Brophy latched on to a Greg Kiltie header inside the box and knocked a left-footed drive past Siegrist.
Midfielder Louis Appere replaced Peter Pawlett for the start of the second half and United immediately pressed Killie back. A first prolonged spell of pressure which elicited several attempts on goal ended when striker Nicky Clark fired a drive over the bar.
Micky Mellon’s side kept Killie hemmed in with a string of passes and crosses and there would be at least a couple of handball shouts ignored by referee David Munro.
However, Kilmarnock had chances on the break. In the 62nd minute Siegrist had to dive low to his left to keep Kabamba’s drive out and, as the Ayrshire side began to break with increasing purpose, Brophy tested the United keeper with two powerful drives.
And it was all over when Kabamba robbed the hesitant Connolly and curled in No.3 with some confidence.
There was time for midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu, who joined Killie for a third spell on Friday, to come on as substitute to help see out the game.
Fellow substitute McKenzie, on for Brophy, pictured inset, finished things off when he nonchalantly chipped in from Kiltie’s pass for the goal of the game.
United boss Micky Mellon confirmed that striker Lawrence Shankland, sidelined with an ankle knock, was out of Steve Clarke’s Scotland squad for the upcoming Nations League double-header against Israel and Czech Republic.
Dyer, formerly assistant to Clarke at Killie and Scotland, believes Brophy, capped once, would be able to step back into the international set-up.
He said: “Of course he could step up, but it’s not up to me.
“It’s not about me, it’s up to Eamonn to do the best he can for Kilmarnock and that’ll take him wherever it takes him.
“I want Eamonn to get back to what he is good at.”