Kilmarnock's agonising wait for a first Scottish Premiership victory came to an end thanks to a brilliant piece of play from Jackson Irvine.

Kris Boyd had initially given the hosts the lead, angling the ball away from Mark Brown under pressure from Michael Gardyne.

Boyd then had another effort off the underside of the bar.

But it was Irvine's sweet strike from a short free-kick that emphatically sealed the points for Killie.

The Ayrshire outfit's chairman, Michael Johnston, might have been looking on content with the performance and the result as they extended the gap at the bottom between themselves and Hearts to 13 points.

However, a Killie fans' protest both in the 18th minute and the 69th minute of the game - to symbolise 1869, the year the club were founded - would have felt bittersweet.

Red cards were raised as the hosts' supporters continued to vent their frustration at the way the club has been run, but fans were already shouting after Boyd's opener.

Just 90 seconds before the protest erupted, Gardyne's attempt to win an aerial challenge in the box saw the ball break to the former Scotland striker.

His first attempt was blocked by County defender Scott Boyd, but while he and team-mate Brian McLean failed to show the necessary urgency to clear their lines, the Killie frontman pounced to poke home.

Boyd had another chance midway through the first half, but he fired over the bar as another ball into the box caused confusion in the visitors' defence.

An injury to Kilmarnock's Rabiu Ibrahim, who was stretchered off after a collision with Darren Maatsen, did not knock the hosts off their stride as they went close to extending their lead.

Darren Barr's back-post header from Barry Nicholson's inswinging free-kick caused McLean more problems. The defender was forced to hack away from underneath his own bar after he almost put through his own net with a dodgy first touch.

Boyd passed up another gilt-edged opportunity three minutes into the second period when Irvine fed Gardyne in midfield before the on-loan Dundee United man produced a perfect through-ball that Boyd could only redirect onto the bar from 15 yards out.

County sought a way back into the match and Mihael Kovacevic thought he had found an equaliser after Kilmarnock goalkeeper Craig Samson had slipped, but the shot-stopper redeemed himself to deny the defender.

Just as another protest had died down from the home support, they were up on their feet again as Irvine's stunning strike from a short Barry Nicholson free-kick ensured a vital victory for Allan Johnston's men.

Lineup, Bookings (3) & Substitutions (5)

Kilmarnock

  • 01 Samson
  • 16 Clohessy
  • 02 Tesselaar
  • 05 Irvine
  • 83 Bouzid
  • 06 Barr
  • 07 Nicholson
  • 29 Pascali Booked
  • 09 Boyd
  • 25 Gardyne (McKenzie - 76' )
  • 19 Ibrahim (Silva - 35' )

Substitutes

  • 04 Fowler
  • 11 Gros
  • 12 Reguero
  • 14 Silva
  • 18 McKenzie
  • 20 Jacobs
  • 26 O'Hara

Ross County

  • 01 Brown
  • 02 Kovacevic
  • 03 Gordon
  • 08 Brittain (Luckassen - 64' )
  • 21 McLean Booked
  • 05 Boyd Booked
  • 07 Sproule (Maatsen - 25' )
  • 04 Kettlewell
  • 11 De Leeuw
  • 17 Ross (Glen - 76' )
  • 10 Quinn

Substitutes

  • 06 Micic
  • 14 Maatsen
  • 15 Glen
  • 18 Klok
  • 19 Luckassen
  • 20 Fraser
  • 22 Saunders
Ref: Stephen Finnie
Att: 3,582

Match Stats

Shots

11 6

On target

2 2

Corners

5 4

Fouls

9 11

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Kilmarnock 2, Ross County 0.

90:00 +2:04 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Kilmarnock 2, Ross County 0.

85:41

Attempt missed. David Silva (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.

82:47

Ismaël Bouzid (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

82:47

Foul by Melvin De Leeuw (Ross County).

81:39 Booking

Booking Brian McLean (Ross County) is shown the yellow card.

81:28

Barry Nicholson (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

81:28

Foul by Brian McLean (Ross County).

80:58

Attempt missed. David Silva (Kilmarnock) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

79:05

Ismaël Bouzid (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

79:05

Foul by Gary Glen (Ross County).

77:03

Corner, Ross County. Conceded by Manuel Pascali.

76:32

Attempt missed. Jackson Irvine (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right.

75:25

Foul by Darren Barr (Kilmarnock).

75:25

Darren Maatsen (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

75:12 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Kilmarnock. Rory McKenzie replaces Michael Gardyne.

75:01 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Ross County. Gary Glen replaces Steven Ross.

74:35

Foul by Darren Barr (Kilmarnock).

74:35

Darren Maatsen (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

70:47 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Kilmarnock 2, Ross County 0. Jackson Irvine (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box to the top left corner.

69:32 Booking

Booking Scott Boyd (Ross County) is shown the yellow card.

69:28

Barry Nicholson (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

69:28

Foul by Scott Boyd (Ross County).

68:03

Attempt missed. Ben Gordon (Ross County) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left.

65:48

Attempt saved. Steven Ross (Ross County) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

65:00

Steven Ross (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

64:58

Foul by Michael Gardyne (Kilmarnock).

63:59 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Ross County. Kevin Luckassen replaces Richard Brittain.

62:29

Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

62:29

Foul by Scott Boyd (Ross County).

61:27

Attempt missed. David Silva (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

59:32

Foul by Ismaël Bouzid (Kilmarnock).

59:32

Stuart Kettlewell (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

58:42

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Rocco Quinn.

57:41

Corner, Ross County. Conceded by Craig Samson.

57:28

Attempt saved. Darren Maatsen (Ross County) header from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

54:18

Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

54:18

Foul by Brian McLean (Ross County).

49:10

Corner, Ross County. Conceded by Jackson Irvine.

47:38

Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock) hits the bar with a right footed shot from the centre of the box.

45:00

Second Half begins Kilmarnock 1, Ross County 0.

45:00 +2:57 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Kilmarnock 1, Ross County 0.

45:00 +1:35

Barry Nicholson (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the left wing.

45:00 +1:35

Foul by Stuart Kettlewell (Ross County).

45:00 +0:12 Booking

Booking Manuel Pascali (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card.

45:00 +0:06

Foul by Manuel Pascali (Kilmarnock).

45:00 +0:06

Ben Gordon (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

43:21

Foul by Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock).

43:21

Scott Boyd (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

40:38

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Richard Brittain.

40:27

Attempt blocked. Darren Barr (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

40:09

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Rocco Quinn.

38:54

Attempt missed. Jackson Irvine (Kilmarnock) header from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the right.

38:40

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Scott Boyd.

38:29

Attempt blocked. Darren Barr (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from very close range is blocked.

37:54

Michael Gardyne (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

37:54

Foul by Brian McLean (Ross County).

34:10 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Kilmarnock. David Silva replaces Rabiu because of an injury.

28:15

Foul by Jackson Irvine (Kilmarnock).

28:15

Stuart Kettlewell (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

26:54

Attempt missed. Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

26:09

Michael Gardyne (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

26:09

Foul by Scott Boyd (Ross County).

24:06 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Ross County. Darren Maatsen replaces Ivan Sproule because of an injury.

16:03 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Kilmarnock 1, Ross County 0. Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner.

14:47

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Mark Brown.

13:09

Foul by Jackson Irvine (Kilmarnock).

13:09

Stuart Kettlewell (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

12:17

Barry Nicholson (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the left wing.

12:17

Foul by Ben Gordon (Ross County).

10:13

Manuel Pascali (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

10:13

Foul by Scott Boyd (Ross County).

7:12

Attempt blocked. Melvin De Leeuw (Ross County) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

7:02

Foul by Manuel Pascali (Kilmarnock).

7:02

Richard Brittain (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

4:17

Corner, Ross County. Conceded by Ismaël Bouzid.

3:59

Attempt blocked. Ivan Sproule (Ross County) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

2:36

Attempt missed. Ivan Sproule (Ross County) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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