Matchzone: St Johnstone (H)
Kilmarnock gave the Rugby Park faithful a perfect present this Christmas – three points.
Marley Watkins followed up David Watson’s stunning opener as the Ayrshire side raced into a 2-0 lead after just 17 minutes.
It looked comfortable until nerves crept in after Nicky Clark pulled a goal back just after the hour mark.
Derek McInnes’ side held on to make it 10 points from the last available 12 which sees them sitting fourth-place in the Scottish Premiership.
Killie’s first chance came after three minutes when Corrie Ndaba whipped a teasing cross into the area which was latched on to by Brad Lyons, but the midfielder couldn’t keep his header down.
In the 6th minute the hosts were ahead though through Watson’s stunning strike from distance which left Dimitar Mitov helpless in the Saints’ goal.
Watkins then doubled Killie’s lead in the 17th minute as he was fed a pass from Dan Armstrong before he calmly poked it home.
Captain Kyle Vassell looked sure to make it three in the 23rd minute but he blasted over from close range.
And just a minute later Will Dennis was called into action when he saved Maksym Kucheriavyi’s shot after he cut inside from the right wing.
Ndaba fizzed a low cross across the box in the 54th minute, but no one was there to get on the end of the pass.
Saints then pulled one back just after the hour mark as Clark’s header powered past Dennis.
Vassell worked towards goal a few minutes later, and after capitalising on an error from Mitov he ran past the goalkeeper who proceeded to foul the striker, whistler John Beaton deemed it only a yellow card offence.
Lyons fired in a delightful cross after 70 minutes, but unfortunately for the hosts the ball eluded both Watkins and Vassell in the area.
Clark had a chance to equalise for the visitors soon after, but Dennis got down well to clutch on to the effort.
The hosts got off lightly as Anthony Gallacher fired over from just a few yards out after a dangerous cross.
Dennis pulled off a fantastic save in the 81st minute as the visitors attempted to draw level, but it wasn’t to be as Killie held on for a deserved win.
Result: Kilmarnock 2-1 St Johnstone
Kilmarnock lineup: Dennis, Mayo, Findlay, Deas, Ndaba, Armstrong, Polworth (McKenzie), Watson, Lyons, Watkins (Dallas 90+4), Vassell.
Below is our picture gallery of the day, courtesy of Ross Mackenzie and David Henderson.