After a bright opening start from both teams, the visitors had first sight of goal in the seventh minute. Andy McLaren sent Greg Shields on a clear run on goal with only the brilliance of Paul Gallacher preventing a certain goal.
For their part, Charlie Miller missed the easiest of opportunities for United in the 15th minute. A superb cross field ball from Jim McIntyre left the midfielder with only Gordon Marshall to beat but he drove it straight at the keeper from eight yards.
After Gary Locke had zipped a 22-yard shot just over the bar, the same player wrestled Miller in the 36th minute and Griffin curled a 20-yard kick just inches past.
Four minutes into the second period, Danny Griffin came very close to the opener for the Tangerines. His 25-yard free-kick flew off the head of Gary McSwegan to rebound off the bar.
The pendulum continued as Gallacher then Jim Lauchlan both defied the visitors with two excellent blocks.
With 66 minutes on the clock, United tried again to up the ante giving a home debut to Arnar Gunnlaugsson replacing the hard working Derek Lilley.
The substitution reaped dividends five minutes later when he received Gallacher's clearance and split the Killie defence for the on-rushing Steven Thompson to rush in and hit the ball low into the corner of the net from 14 yards.
Their lead was only to last seven minutes, Steve Fulton's free-kick was headed down by substitute Kris Boyd and the other sub Craig Dargo nipped in front of a sleeping United defence to bundle the ball over from one yard.
Astonishingly the visitors took the lead four minutes later with a volley from Boyd, he latched on to a long Frederic Dindeleux clearance and lobbed the oncoming Gallacher to complete the smash and grab