Kilmarnock took a major step towards sealing a top-six place as Stephen O’Donnell’s long-range strike earned them a 1-0 victory at Motherwell.
The right-back struck from 25 yards in the 34th minute and Killie held firm as Motherwell continued to dominate possession and territory.
Killie generally restricted crosses going into their box from general play and withstood 13 corners to move three points ahead of Motherwell in sixth spot in the Ladbrokes Premiership with two games in hand on the Lanarkshire side.
Both clubs came into the game on form. Killie had only lost once in 11 matches while Motherwell had recovered from a difficult December by losing once in seven games.
Killie striker Kris Boyd turned Charles Dunne and shot just wide in the opening moments but Motherwell had the better of the early stages.
Curtis Main was twice denied by blocks before Craig Tanner stabbed Elliott Frear’s cross just wide.
The hosts continued to pose more of a threat, although Tom Aldred put in two decent blocks inside their box.
Main had two headers saved, Nadir Ciftci turned and shot wide and had a penalty appeal rejected when he claimed he had been pulled by Stuart Findlay.
The closest the hosts came to an opener was when Kirk Broadfoot turned Chris Cadden’s cross against his own post.
But the visitors went ahead out of the blue when O’Donnell picked up a loose ball, strode forward and fired the ball just inside the far post.
The Ayrshire side were content to sit back in the second half and they generally kept Motherwell at bay from open play, although Main shot wide after being played into the channel by Richard Tait.
Motherwell posed their biggest threat from corners. Aldred had a header stopped on the line, Broadfoot blocked Carl McHugh’s shot and Aldred was inches from connecting from Craig Tanner’s inviting delivery.
Main came closer when he chipped the ball just beyond the far post after linking up with substitute Ryan Bowman, who was sporting a heavy-duty face mask on his comeback from a broken cheekbone.
And Killie were soon celebrating a crucial three points after surviving an injury-time corner which saw Motherwell goalkeeper Trevor Carson join the increasingly desperate attempts from the home side.