THE decision by the St Mirren directors to replace manager Danny Lennon during the summer is increasingly looking like one which they will repent at their leisure.
Scorers: Kilmarnock - Muirhead 62; Connolly 82; St Mirren - Drury 70
After a fifth successive league defeat, they now find themselves six points adrift at the foot of the table alongside the similarly pointless Ross County.
Even scoring their first league goal in 498 minutes was not enough for them to take anything from Rugby Park and nor did they deserve to.
The loss leaves them six points adrift of the pack and new manager Tommy Craig has a major job on his hands lifting his players for what looks to be an awkward fixture at Firhill against a buoyant Partick Thistle on Friday.
“We gave it away with a free-kick into the box and that header going unchallenged. That makes it especially sore because we had worked really, really hard and got ourselves in a position to get something,” he said after the match.
“The biggest concern I have is making sure they don’t start feeling sorry for themselves. The only way out of this is to remain a collective of players and management team.”
On a day when the conditions allowed no excuses for sloppy, unimaginative football, neither team appeared to have brought their A game. Kilmarnock were slightly more coherent than the visitors and they conjured up the first opportunity after 22 minutes when Josh Magennis headed wide after being picked out by Sammy Clingan’s inviting delivery.
Former Hearts goalkeeper Marian Kello then had his reflexes tested by a well-struck drive from Tope Obadeyi but he proved up to the task.
Visiting captain Jim Goodwin was lucky to receive only a caution for a late, high lunge on Clingan in the 35th minute. It was a challenge the Irishman did not need to make but it seems that, in spite of his best intentions, he simply cannot help himself.
Kenny McLean missed Saints’ first chance when he blazed wastefully over from 12 yards in the 50th minute and then he lost out in a tackle with Mark Connolly in the build-up to the opening goal.
The defender released Robbie Muirhead on the left and the striker displayed great composure to cut inside before driving the ball behind Kello from 12 yards.
Connolly was then caught in possession by John McGinn, who squared for Adam Drury to tap home at the far post. But the Irishman made up for that error eight minutes from time when he headed a Clingan free-kick powerfully past Kello from eight yards.
James Marwood typified the Buddies’ desperation when he threw himself to the ground in a vain attempt to win a penalty for his team. Referee Alan Muir saw through it and booked the forward.
“This was the kind of game we’d have lost last season but we showed character to come back and win it,” said Kilmarnock manager Allan Johnston.
“I thought that Mark Connolly had been fouled in the build up to their equaliser but we didn’t panic and got the winner.
“Robbie Muirhead did really well at the opener, too. He is a talented player – he’s just come back from international duty with the Scotland Under-21s – and there is no doubt in my mind that he will go on to play for bigger clubs.”