Nicke Kabamba celebrated his first international call-up with Kilmarnock’s winner as they triumphed 1-0 at St Mirren.
The striker was this week included in DR Congo’s squad for their meeting with Morocco and he slotted home his fourth goal in as many games in the 28th minute in Paisley.
Killie dominated possession in the first half and Kabamba dispatched their first chance when he converted Chris Burke’s low cross as the Ayrshire side moved into the Premiership top six.
Lee Erwin had earlier headed against the bar for St Mirren but the hosts could not carve out a meaningful opportunity to level and avert a fifth consecutive defeat which leaves them bottom of the table.
Kilmarnock manager Alex Dyer, inset, believes former Hartlepool forward Kabamba can go from strength to strength.
“He’s been excellent since he has been at this football club,” said Dyer. “He works hard for the team and now he is getting a little bit of reward by scoring goals.
“I believe he can go on a good run now. I believe if he keeps doing what he’s doing, the goals will come if we keep creating chances for him.
“We still have [Eamonn] Brophy to come back into the team, [Greg] Kiltie popped up with a goal last week and it’s not just about him, we can share it out. But we want him to score as many goals as he can.”
St Mirren have had disruption in their rearguard throughout their losing run and, although Jim Goodwin welcomed back goalkeeper Jak Alnwick following a bout of Covid-19, full-back Richard Tait started a two-match ban.
The visitors quickly exerted control of the game but St Mirren had the first chance ten minutes in as they countered following a Killie corner. Durmus was one on one with Ross Millen and got a shot away but was just off target.
The hosts came closer midway through the half when Erwin met a Durmus corner 16 yards out and sent a powerful header off the bar.
Dyer’s team opened the scoring from their first chance. Burke got in behind down the right following a give-and-go with Power and sent in a low cross. Kabamba got in front of Conor McCarthy to strike home from eight yards.
Goodwin made a double half-time switch. Jon Obika joined Erwin up front and Nathan Sheron came into a midfield vacated by Sam Foley and Jamie McGrath. The game was almost beyond them inside four minutes after a brilliant move. Kiltie ran on to Millen’s return pass and swept a shot from 18 yards which Alnwick tipped wide.
After getting Joe Shaughnessy and Tait sent off in recent weeks, Goodwin must have feared the worst when Marcus Fraser planted his studs in Burke’s chest, but referee David Munro decided a yellow card was sufficient.
Despite sinking to the bottom of the Premiership Goodwin is confident his St Mirren side will turn their form around.
“The first half, Kilmarnock were the better team, we sat off them too much, we didn’t get close enough to them, albeit that’s not where the goal comes from,” Goodwin said.
“We were weak in the middle of the park and then we get done by a one-two and don’t defend the cross well enough.
“That’s been an issue in the past five or six weeks, when balls come into our box we haven’t been able to defend them well enough.
“The second half I thought we were the better team and in Kilmarnock’s half for the majority. But we lacked a little bit of cutting edge in the final third.
“It’s another defeat, it’s really, really disappointing the run we are on after such a great start to the season but I’ve got every confidence that we can turn it around.
“We still have three or four very good players to come back from suspension and injury and I think once we get our strongest team on the pitch, we will turn the corner.”