Findlay wins it for Kilmarnock
Stuart Findlay’s first-half header gave Kilmarnock a 1-0 win at struggling Partick Thistle to leave the hosts one point adrift at the bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership.
Killie’s on-loan defender from Newcastle headed in a Jordan Jones cross in the 35th minute at the Energy Check stadium at Firhill, which proved enough to extend in-form Killie’s unbeaten league run to 10 games.
Thistle, who dropped to the bottom of the table on goal difference after a 4-0 defeat by Ross County on Tuesday night, are now without a win in nine league games and have not scored in the last five as they head into the split – as the Staggies drew 1-1 with Hibernian.
Jags boss Alan Archibald made five changes as he sought solutions to deepening problems, with Callum Booth, Blair Spittal, Chris Erskine, Steven Lawless and Andrew McCarthy coming back into the starting line-up.
Kilmarnock defender Kirk Broadfoot returned from suspension with midfielders Youssouf Mulumbu and Jones also returning.
The home side began at a decent tempo but found the Ayrshire men equally hard-working with the early stages more perspiration than inspiration.
Killie slowly began to impose themselves and in the 18th minute captain Kris Boyd looped a header from a Stephen O’Donnell cross over the bar from 14 yards.
Moments later, a perfectly-weighted through ball from Mulumbu found Jones racing clear of the Thistle defence but he was foiled by Jags goalkeeper Ryan Scully at the edge of the box, with defender Christie Elliott clearing Boyd’s follow-up shot for a corner which was defended.
The Jags rearguard were less alert 10 minutes from the break when Jones’ cross from the left, after taking a Gary Dicker free-kick, was met by Findlay who powered a header past Scully from six yards.
Thistle started the second half with some purpose.
Attacker Chris Erskine tested Jamie MacDonald with a powerful drive before the Killie keeper blocked a close-range effort from striker Conor Sammon.
Broadfoot blocked an Erskine drive before O’Donnell had the ball in the net at the other end, well after the flag was up for an infringement.
The final 20 minutes, played in drizzling rain, saw tired passes from both sides go astray.
The home side tried everything in their power to fashion an equaliser but found a Kilmarnock foot or head blocking the way.
After once again coming up short, the hosts will look at their post-split fixtures – published early next week – as they try to plot their course away from relegation.