Kilmarnock 1-0 Hamilton: Johnston delight for Eremenko

Finnish goalscorer Alexei Eremenko
Kilmarnock fans will hope that Alexei Eremenko is over the worst of his injury problems

Kilmarnock manager Allan Johnston praised the touch of class provided by Alexei Eremenko, who scored a stunning injury-time free-kick to clinch a 1-0 win over Hamilton at Rugby Park.

"It was a fantastic bit of quality to finish it off the way he did," Johnston told BBC Scotland after the Finn's set piece produced a first Killie win in eight Premiership games.

"We're very lucky to get someone of his quality at Kilmarnock.

"He's a top player and we've just got to make sure we get the best out of him.

"He's had groin and back injuries so it's good to get him back playing. He has been struggling recently so it's good that he's starting to come back."

Hamilton's Darian MacKinnon headed an Ali Crawford corner over the bar from close range
Hamilton's Darian MacKinnon headed an Ali Crawford corner over the bar from close range

Accies had enjoyed the bulk of the chances, most notably a Darian MacKinnon close-range header near the end of the match, but too often their attempts at Craig Samson's goal were from too far out.

Kilmarnock had their own opportunities, with Robbie Muirhead wrong-footed by Rory McKenzie's cut-back and a Jamie Hamill header testing Michael McGovern in the Hamilton goal.

"It was a very tight game but we deserved a wee bit of luck, especially after recent performances," added Johnston, who "can't see anything happening" with January transfers.

"We had a couple of great opportunities but it looked like to was going to end 0-0.

"You can see with the league table there's nothing much between the teams but that result will give us a massive lift and hopefully we can kick on."

The twist in the tale was hard to take for Accies player-manager Alex Neil, who competed in midfield for 70 minutes before subbing himself.

He said: "It's really disappointing. I thought we deserved to win the game, if anybody was going to win it.

"In the first 30 minutes we were excellent and then Kilmarnock had a 15-minute spell before half-time.

"I thought we were the better side in the second half but we just didn't take our chances.

"At the end there was a wee bit of naivety. We should have turned the ball forward, we didn't, and it cost us a free-kick at the edge of our box.

"It's a fantastic free-kick from the lad but it's our own doing.

"The defeat is raw. They are the hardest ones to take. I feel we let ourselves down in the last few minutes."