INVERNESS’S six-match run without defeat came to a shuddering halt here and they could have had few complaints about the outcome.
It was a first clean sheet for the hosts in 22 attempts and that delighted manager Gary Locke more than the continuing hot streak of striker Josh Magennis, pictured.
“It was a great day for us but the clean sheet was the most important one because we hadn’t had one this season,” said home manager Gary Locke.
“I’m particularly delighted for our goalkeeper, Jamie MacDonald, because he’s had a great season for us so far. Inverness started the game well but, after that initial period, I thought we put in a really good performance.
“Josh has been one of those lads who just needed a regular run of games. You can see that he’s now playing with confidence and players are completely different when they don’t have that.”
Disorganisation at the back has been a long-standing problem for Kilmarnock and they rode their luck when they twice failed to defend set-pieces.
After eight minutes Danny Devine was guilty of a shocking miss when he headed over from point-blank range after Carl Tremarco had flicked Greg Tansey’s corner over to the far post.
Ross Draper was equally profligate two minutes later when he was also too high after running, unchallenged, on to a Ryan Christie free-kick.
The hosts did not offer much of an attacking threat but they believed they ought to have been awarded a penalty after 26 minutes when Draper blocked a shot by Craig Slater with an arm but referee Stephen Finnie decided the contact had been unavoidable.
Owain Fon-Williams then kept out a header by Magennis but the goalkeeper was left helpless when Greg Kiltie opened the scoring during first-half stoppage time.
Northern Ireland striker Magennis claimed the assist with a perfectly cushioned header from Steven Smith’s cross for the 18-year-old and he drove the ball inside the goalkeeper’s right-hand post.
Christie tried his luck from distance but MacDonald was alert to the danger and pushed the ball over the bar.
Magennis should have laid on a second for the home side, though, but he elected to shoot from an unpromising position rather than supply the unmarked Kevin McHattie.
However, he atoned for that error of judgment when he raced on to a through ball by Kallum Higginbotham to beat Fon-Williams with an angled drive.
Slater then shaved the outside of the goalkeeper’s right-hand post with a curling 20-yarder after Magennis had teed him up.
Inverness manager John Hughes conceded that the better side had won but claimed that he had no regrets over his club’s decision to refuse Dundee United permission to approach him regarding the recent vacancy at Tannadice.
“It’s flattering to be linked with a club like that but it’s only because of the success we’ve had here,” he said.
“Let’s just keep making that success here. All I heard was the two clubs weren’t going to talk and that was it – finished.”