Allan Johnston: Kilmarnock had to beat Hearts
Kilmarnock boss Allan Johnston was delighted as Kris Boyd's double helped dump Hearts 4-2 at Rugby Park.
It was level at the break but Boyd struck twice at the start of the second half for the home side.
Sam Nicholson replied for the Jambos but Michael Gardyne ensured Killie move four points clear of the play-off spot.
Johnston told BBC Scotland: "It was a big result for us, we had to win. It was a home game against the team that's bottom of the league."
It was a welcome three points for the Ayrshire men as they bounced back from last week's defeat by St Mirren to move up to eighth in table - four points clear of second-bottom Ross County.
"I thought we made hard work of it to be honest," said Johnston. "We gave away too many cheap goals again, but there was a lot of positives to take out of the performance.
"I think in the second half they played really well. We passed the ball well, created a few chances. We know we've got to work defensively and do a lot better.
"There was pressure on us to win it. We've went out there and won the game, and now we've got to build on that, but there's still a long way to go."
Johnston also singled out Rory McKenzie, with the 20-year-old having another fine match before limping off with injury.
"He seems to be getting better and better," said the Kilmarnock boss.
"The last, maybe, two months his form's improved dramatically. He's a real handful for defenders."