Kilmarnock heading for relegation play-off after home defeat to Partick
Kilmarnock's top-flight future has been left hanging in the balance after their fight to avoid the play-offs fell flat with a 2-0 defeat by Partick Thistle at Rugby Park.
Alan Archibald warned his Jags after last week's 4-1 drubbing by Inverness that they were in danger of being sucked into the relegation scrap.
But with Hamilton beating Dundee at Dens Park, the Maryhill men got the win which confirms their safety thanks to goals from Stevie Lawless and Kris Doolan.
It now leaves cash-strapped Killie facing a potential drop to the Ladbrokes Championship.
Lee Clark's men must now overcome the winner of next week's semi-final between Hibernian and Falkirk or wave goodbye to their 23-year run in Scotland's top tier.
Yet they started the clash with Thistle full of hope.
Having fired fresh life into their survival fight with last week's 4-0 thrashing of rivals Accies, Killie were champing at the bit to get at Thistle.
They began hungrily but saw Josh Magennis fire wide inside the opening five minutes before Kris Boyd had a header easily saved by Jags stopper Ryan Scully.
But when the hosts failed to make the most of their bright opening the game descended into a scrappy arm-wrestle.
Partick should have made the most of that drop in intensity when David Amoo got himself free in the six-yard box to get on the end of Mustapha Dumbuya's cross, but his header was straight at Jamie MacDonald.
There was no sign of an improvement in accuracy from either side as the game ticked towards the half-hour mark.
When Killie claimed Boyd had had his jersey tugged by Gary Miller as the striker tried to get onto a Magennis ball at the back post, there was an air of wishful thinking about their appeal.
But the afternoon's first bit of quality in the 33rd minute delivered the opener as Lawless drove in from the right before rifling the ball under MacDonald
The ball came through a ruck of legs but the keeper looked slow to get down to the strike.
Clark encouraged his side's supporters to stay calm as they made their frustration clear but they Ayrshire faithful were no happier after the break as the home side's tactic of shelling long balls at Magennis proved fruitless.
And the mood only grew darker as Thistle added their second after 66 minutes.
Abdul Osman's flick-on for Doolan should have been cut out by Miles Addison but when the former Blackpool defender's swipe found only fresh air, the striker was left clear to sprint through and ram the ball past MacDonald.
Boyd failed to finish a decent chance as he shot wide with quarter of an hour remaining but the fight had gone from the Killie ranks and they were grateful not to suffer a harsher defeat when Sean Welsh's late strike crashed onto the crossbar.
Source : PA