Scottish Premiership
Kilmarnock2Inverness CT1

Kilmarnock 2-1 Inverness Caledonian Thistle

Kilmarnock secured their own Scottish Premiership status as they thrust Inverness Caledonian Thistle deeper into relegation trouble.

Sean Longstaff and Jordan Jones scored the goals that moved Killie to seventh.

Alex Fisher's late consolation was not enough to prevent Inverness being left four points adrift of Hamilton at the bottom with two games to play.

The best Richie Foran's side can now hope for is a place in the play-off final against Falkirk or Dundee United.

First blood Kilmarnock

Caley Thistle began brightly and almost took the lead after two minutes. Fisher was through on goal, but he could only find the side netting with his shot.

The tension was clear to see as both groups of players came together to shout the odds following a tough challenge by Iain Wilson on Ross Draper. Referee John Beaton managed to keep the peace, showing yellow cards to Wilson, his captain, Steven Smith, and Caley Thistle's Brad McKay.

Then came a hammer blow for Inverness as goalkeeper Ryan Esson failed to hold a high ball and it fell to Longstaff at the edge of the box. The on-loan Newcastle United midfielder fired in a low shot that took a deflection before nestling into the back of the net.

Killie flex muscles

Caley Thistle's Brad McKay (left) was left dejected
Caley Thistle were left dejected at the final whistle at Rugby Park

Caley Thistle boss Foran replaced Jake Mulroney with Iain Vigurs at half-time in search of some kind of reaction.

However, Kilmarnock continued to look the more likely winners and they hammered that point home with a moment of real quality from Jones. The winger left the Inverness defence trailing in his wake as he homed in on goal before dispatching the perfect finish past Esson.

Just as it looked like all hope was gone for Caley Thistle, though, they pulled a goal back. Greg Tansey's pass sliced through the Kilmarnock defence and Fisher was alive to the opportunity, sliding the ball past MacDonald.

All three previous meetings between the sides this season had ended as 1-1 draws, but there was to be no late equaliser and Caley Thistle's run without an away win was extended to 13 games.

Billy Mckay came closest with a lob just wide over goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald, but Kilmarnock held on to end their run of six home games without a win.

Relegation equation

Kilmarnock, conversely, are safe for another season, meaning thoughts turn to what happens with Lee McCulloch. Will the interim manager be given the job on a permanent basis? It is surely a no-brainer.

It is a different story in terms of the Inverness dugout. For Foran, a week of angst looms large and the odds are heavily stacked against him and his side.

Inverness can still survive this season, but the arithmetic remains against them and confidence in the camp must be at a very low ebb.

Post-match reaction:

Kilmarnock interim boss Lee McCulloch: "The way we played today was outstanding. Last week I said we were not at it. Today I knew we were. There was a feeling in the dressing room, a togetherness that was brilliant.

"The last 10 minutes were a bit nervy but we got there in the end. To have finally got there [Premiership survival] with two games remaining, I am just delighted for everybody in the dressing room and everyone at the club. Another year, we continue to strive to get better.

[On his future] "I have said for the last couple of months, if we get safe then it will be a two-way conversation. I think that will happen, but I don't know if it will happen this week or next week. That is really all I can say until I speak to the board of directors. We just want to enjoy today."

Inverness boss Richie Foran: "I'm delighted with the players' performance, believe it or not. I told them they should be proud of themselves, how they handled the occasion.

"Individual mistakes have cost us again. The only disappointing part is the second goal. Jones has so much space to run at us. It's a set-piece for us, they break and score - that's schoolboy defending but overall we were the far better team and had far better chances.

"We didn't get what we deserved and that was the three points, in my mind. We need to cut out the individual mistakes, it's been the story of the season.

"We need help from other clubs now, simple as that. We need to do our business on Wednesday and Saturday. There is still a chance. It is probably a small chance, but there is a chance."

Line-ups

Kilmarnock

  • 1MacDonald
  • 27Hendrie
  • 8Dicker
  • 20Ajer
  • 3SmithBooked at 16mins
  • 36WilsonBooked at 15mins
  • 18Longstaff
  • 21Frizzell
  • 10KiltieSubstituted forMcKenzieat 77'minutes
  • 11Jones
  • 19Sammon

Substitutes

  • 5Osborne
  • 7McKenzie
  • 25Roberts
  • 33Hawkshaw
  • 40Graham
  • 42Lyle
  • 44Cameron

Inverness CT

  • 1Esson
  • 22McKayBooked at 15mins
  • 21Laing
  • 5Warren
  • 2Raven
  • 8DraperSubstituted forColeat 70'minutes
  • 16Tansey
  • 23AnierSubstituted forPolworthat 58'minutes
  • 13Mckay
  • 15MulraneySubstituted forVigursat 46'minutes
  • 18Fisher

Substitutes

  • 4McNaughton
  • 7Polworth
  • 9Ebbe
  • 11Vigurs
  • 12McCart
  • 29Cole
  • 42Hoban
Referee:
John Beaton
Attendance:
3,137

Match Stats

Home TeamKilmarnockAway TeamInverness CT
Possession
Home53%
Away47%
Shots
Home11
Away14
Shots on Target
Home2
Away4
Corners
Home4
Away3
Fouls
Home18
Away13

Live Text

Match ends, Kilmarnock 2, Inverness CT 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Kilmarnock 2, Inverness CT 1.

Gary Dicker (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Gary Warren (Inverness CT).

Attempt missed. Billy McKay (Inverness CT) header from the right side of the six yard box is high and wide to the right.

Corner, Inverness CT. Conceded by Gary Dicker.

Attempt blocked. Iain Vigurs (Inverness CT) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

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

Foul by Alex Fisher (Inverness CT).

Corner, Inverness CT. Conceded by Gary Dicker.

Attempt missed. Billy McKay (Inverness CT) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left.

Attempt saved. David Raven (Inverness CT) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Foul by Sean Longstaff (Kilmarnock).

Iain Vigurs (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Conor Sammon (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Gary Warren (Inverness CT).

Substitution

Substitution, Kilmarnock. Rory McKenzie replaces Greg Kiltie.

Foul by Adam Frizzell (Kilmarnock).

Greg Tansey (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt saved. David Raven (Inverness CT) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner.

Foul by Conor Sammon (Kilmarnock).

Louis Laing (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Billy McKay (Inverness CT) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Gary Warren.

Goal!

Goal! Kilmarnock 2, Inverness CT 1. Alex Fisher (Inverness CT) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Iain Vigurs.

Attempt blocked. Adam Frizzell (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Substitution

Substitution, Inverness CT. Larnell Cole replaces Ross Draper.

Attempt blocked. Brad McKay (Inverness CT) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

Foul by Conor Sammon (Kilmarnock).

Iain Vigurs (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Brad McKay (Inverness CT) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses the top right corner.

Corner, Inverness CT. Conceded by Gary Dicker.

Foul by Gary Dicker (Kilmarnock).

Billy McKay (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt blocked. Sean Longstaff (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Kristoffer Ajer (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Ross Draper (Inverness CT).

Attempt missed. Jordan Jones (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

Adam Frizzell (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Greg Tansey (Inverness CT).

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic363240992574100
2Aberdeen362241066343270
3Rangers361810853411264
4St Johnstone36167134844455
5Hearts361210145549646
6Partick Thistle361012143843-542
7Kilmarnock36914133451-1741
8Ross County36913144355-1240
9Dundee36107193856-1837
10Motherwell3698194165-2435
11Hamilton36614163153-2232
12Inverness CT36513183969-3028
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