Match ends, Kilmarnock 2, Hearts 0.
A Kris Boyd-inspired Kilmarnock made it two wins on the trot as Hearts were cast further adrift at the bottom of the Scottish Premiership.
Boyd showed good composure to shoot low past Jamie MacDonald for his first goal on 16 minutes.
Callum Paterson came close to heading a Hearts equaliser after the break at a rain-lashed Rugby Park.
But Boyd showed class to cleverly lift his second strike over MacDonald and take Killie up to 10th place.
Allan Johnston's men climb above St Mirren and are now 16 points clear of Hearts, who are themselves 15 points short of the Buddies.
Therefore, the discord at Rugby Park relents - on the pitch at least.
During the first-half, the majority of Killie fans held up red cards and shouted "we want Johnston out" in unison as a protest against their chairman Michael Johnston.
His stewardship of the club seems something they want to end no matter what results are.
With the task Gary Locke's administration-hit Jambos have this season, utilising the experience of someone like Ryan Stevenson is paramount.
The former Ipswich forward was only getting back into the swing of things since returning from a lengthy lay-off and his first-half departure due to injury was a huge blow.
Stevenson's importance was highlighted when he created the game's first chance out of nothing, curling a right foot shot from the corner of the box which Killie keeper Craig Samson clawed away.
From there, Kilmarnock settled into the match and quickly went in front.
Boyd ignored the offside shouts for the through-ball that found him and ran into the box to complete his task, which was shooting low past Hearts goalkeeper MacDonald after calmly checking inside Danny Wilson.
Having the trickery and creativity of young winger Chris Johnston back in the side is clearly a boost for Killie.
His approach play was almost topped off by Barry Nicholson, but the former Aberdeen midfielder's hooked effort went over the crossbar.
The hosts lost Darren Barr to a nasty looking head knock but they continued to look the most menacing as the rain teemed down before the interval.
Both Michael Gardyne and Johnston had shots well blocked in the box, the latter's by a fantastic reaction save by MacDonald.
Paterson, on for Stevenson, had chances to equalise for Hearts either side of half-time with a flick and a header.
As Killie began to turn the screw, MacDonald had to be at his best once again to beat away Sean Clohessy's near-post drive. But the pressure would soon pay off.
Boyd chested down Jeroen Tesselaar's free-kick from deep and lifted it over the onrushing MacDonald in style to give Kilmarnock a two-goal advantage.
Dale Carrick came close to immediately reducing that lead before Killie went up the park once more and Johnston's rising shot was tipped over by MacDonald.
The home side absorbed the odd attack Hearts had left to offer and, fittingly, Boyd was given a standing ovation when substituted with a couple of minutes remaining.
- 1SamsonBooked at 76mins
- 16ClohessyBooked at 90mins
- 6BarrSubstituted forClinganat 29'minutes
- 7NicholsonSubstituted forMcKenzieat 87'minutes
- 9BoydSubstituted forMuirheadat 90'minutes
- 10JohnstonBooked at 80mins
- 3McHattieBooked at 35mins
- 16McKayBooked at 77mins
- 20TappingSubstituted forCarrickat 45'minutes
- 7StevensonSubstituted forPatersonat 20'minutesBooked at 68mins
- 17SmithSubstituted forNicholsonat 67'minutes
- Kevin Clancy
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Kilmarnock 2, Hearts 0.
Foul by Chris Johnston (Kilmarnock).
Jamie Hamill (Hearts) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Substitution, Kilmarnock. Robbie Muirhead replaces Kris Boyd.
Sean Clohessy (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card.
Foul by Sean Clohessy (Kilmarnock).
Sam Nicholson (Hearts) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Kilmarnock. Rory McKenzie replaces Barry Nicholson.
Attempt missed. Sammy Clingan (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the left is close, but misses the top right corner from a direct free kick.
Michael Gardyne (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Jamie Walker (Hearts).
Attempt missed. Kevin McHattie (Hearts) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right from a direct free kick.
Chris Johnston (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card.
Jamie Walker (Hearts) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Chris Johnston (Kilmarnock).
Brad McKay (Hearts) is shown the yellow card.
Craig Samson (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card.
(Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Brad McKay (Hearts).