Kilmarnock climb out of bottom two with victory over Livingston
Kilmarnock boosted their cinch Premiership survival hopes as they climbed out of the bottom two with a 2-0 victory over Livingston.
Kyle Vassell’s first league goal for the club and a Danny Armstrong penalty saw the Rugby Park side maintain their impressive home form as they bid to avoid the drop.
Livingston, who had won all three previous meetings between the sides this season, slip to eighth place after a fifth defeat in their last six games.
The visitors were the first to threaten when Stephen Kelly pounced on a defensive mix-up involving Lewis Mayo and Joe Wright but pulled his shot narrowly wide of Sam Walker’s right-hand post in the sixth minute.
Kilmarnock responded and should have opened the scoring 10 minutes later.
Vassell latched onto a flick-on from strike partner Christian Doidge to find himself with only Shamal George to beat but his shot was too close to the Livingston keeper who saved well.
The much-travelled former Blackpool, Peterborough and Rotherham striker tested George again with a curling shot which was comfortably held, then at the other end Joel Nouble sent an effort just off target.
Kilmarnock were finding clear-cut opportunities difficult to come by but young midfielder David Watson, who signed a new contract last week, called George into action once more when his close-range header was saved.
Livingston claimed their opponents should have been reduced to 10 men before the break.
Wright, already booked for a foul on Nouble, pulled down the striker again as he tried to burst clear but referee David Munro ignored the angry protests of the visiting players as he decided a free-kick was sufficient punishment.
Kilmarnock made a vibrant start to the second half and were rewarded with the breakthrough in the 48th minute.
The combination of Doidge and Vassell caused problems for the Livingston defence once more as the latter raced onto the former’s clever flick and drove home a low shot which George got a hand to but could not keep out.
Nouble came close to an equaliser in the 58th minute when he outmuscled Wright inside the box and saw his shot from a tight angle superbly saved by Sam Walker.
However, Kilmarnock took control of the contest when they doubled their lead from the spot six minutes later.
After a VAR check, Jason Holt was penalised for blocking a Doidge shot with an outstretched arm and Armstrong stepped up to send George the wrong way with a coolly converted penalty.