Kilmarnock boss Steve Clarke admits it was reassuring to be able to rest key players and still continue their remarkable form with a 2-0 win over Hamilton on Saturday.
First-half goals from Lee Erwin and Stephen O’Donnell were enough for the in-form Ayrshire side to rack up a fourth successive league win.
Clarke decided to rest a number of key players with Jordan Jones, Youssouf Mulumbu and Aaron Tshibola all left out of the starting XI after playing in the Ibrox victory a fortnight ago.
And the Killie boss was understandably pleased with those who deputised. “We’ve won without Youssouf and Jordan in the past,” Clarke explained. “We played Ross County with a similar front three and it worked well.
“We’ve shown on occasion this season that we can do without those players. Obviously it’s better when they’re in the team. But I thought today was an opportunity to play a few of those that deserved the chance. [Eamonn] Brophy, [Rory] McKenzie and [Alan] Power have all just signed new contracts during the week so I felt it was important that they played.
“It’s nice when you can turn around and look at the quality on the bench because it tells you we’re doing something right here. We’ve built a good squad and the results have followed.”
Clarke also praised Brophy who played on the right of the front three against his former employers. “Eamonn’s been great for me. He had a problematic summer and missed a lot of pre-season so it took us a bit of time to get him up to speed but when he’s at his best he’s a really dangerous player.
“He was probably trying a little bit too hard today, because he was playing against his old team and wanted to prove a point. But he’s not got anything to prove to us. He’s been fantastic.”
Meanwhile, Martin Canning’s Hamilton are still yet to win a game on the road in 2018. Defeat leaves them just five points ahead of 11th-placed Partick Thistle, although Accies do have a game in hand over the Glasgow club.
Canning knows that his team have to start matches better. “We’ve conceded two really poor goals in our last two games,” he said. “Both came early and were clearly avoidable so that puts us straight on the back foot, especially at difficult places like St Johnstone and Kilmarnock.
“The half-time goal was a real sickener, though, because we had found a way back into the game at 1-0 and were starting to create some chances.
“For me, the most disappointing thing was the belief to go and win the game. We didn’t have enough of that today.”