Match ends, Kilmarnock 0, Motherwell 1.
Motherwell moved back into third place in the Scottish Premiership as Jake Carroll's free-kick gave them all three points away to managerless Kilmarnock.
Stephen Robinson's side leapfrogged Aberdeen to move two points clear in the battle for a Europa League spot.
Kilmarnock, under caretaker manager Alex Dyer, were left to rue missed chances through Eamonn Brophy.
In a miserable day for the Scotland international, he passed up a glut of gilt-edged opportunities for the hosts.
It means the Rugby Park side have now gone five games without a win, as they fell 11 points behind Motherwell.
Missed chances crucial
It was the beginning of a new Kilmarnock era, with former assistant manager Dyer taking charge on a caretaker basis following the dismissal of Angelo Alessio.
And Dyer had to hit the ground running, with visitors Motherwell threatening to pull away from their hosts in the Premiership table.
However, only once in their last eight games had Kilmarnock led in a match, and they were fortunate not to find themselves trailing when Jermaine Hylton knocked the ball into the path of Allan Campbell almost on the penalty spot, but Connor Johnson dived in to deflect his shot wide.
Brophy spearheaded every Kilmarnock attack, but he was struggling to get the better of the Motherwell backline. A header wide was as close as he came in a first half in which Motherwell goalkeeper Mark Gillespie had little to do.
And, when his side really needed him after Carroll's free-kick had given Motherwell the lead, he struggled to add to his tally of four goals this season.
As Kilmarnock improved after the break, Brophy somehow side-footed the ball over the bar after Stephen O'Donnell had laid it on a plate for him.
Then, minutes later O'Donnell again picked him out, with Brophy's turn and shot palmed away by Gillespie.
The Motherwell goalkeeper was in inspired form though, punching a Chris Burke free-kick clear and again denying Brophy on the rebound.
The visitors had a deserved lead by that point. They had lost Liam Donnelly to injury in the first half; the midfielder limping off to be replaced by Liam Polworth.
But they should have taken the lead when Hylton collected Polworth's pass and drove a shot towards the far corner. The ball appeared to be going in before Christopher Long ran in and dragged it over the line, with the assistant referee calling a halt to the celebrations with the flag for offside.
There was no mistake though when Carroll sent a free-kick past Kilmarnock goalkeeper Laurentiu Branescu, who stood on the spot and watched as the ball flew past him.
They should have wrapped up the points when Polworth raced through on goal, but he gave Branescu an easy save to make - firing straight at him.
And they were almost made to pay for that profligacy, with Gillespie getting a hand to a late O'Donnell chance as Motherwell saw off late pressure from the home side.
Man of the match - Mark Gillespie
BBC Scotland's John Barnes at Rugby Park
Gillespie made three saves in particular in the second half to keep Kilmarnock from claiming an equaliser.
His stop from Burke's free-kick was bettered by his quick reactions to turn away a Brophy goal-bound effort, before in the last minute of stoppage time he turned away an O'Donnell shot to ensure the three points were heading to Lanarkshire.
On another day Brophy would have been a contender for the way he led the Killie attack, but the sitter he missed in the second half is too fresh in the mind.
'We'll take it' - post-match reaction
Kilmarnock caretaker manager Alex Dyer: "The second half I thought we played well, created some chances. Disappointed with the goal obviously. I'm gutted for the boys because they gave 100%."
Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson: "It took a wee bit of magic from Jake Carroll. Mark Gillespie had two great saves at the end as well. Did we deserve it? Well, it's a hard place to come so we'll definitely take it.
"It was probably James Scott's best game for us. We're growing all the time."
- 26Del FabroBooked at 58mins
- 15El MakriniSubstituted forMillarat 73'minutes
- 7McKenzieSubstituted forThomasat 85'minutes
- 20GillespieBooked at 78mins
- 5HartleyBooked at 82mins
- 22DonnellyBooked at 36minsSubstituted forPolworthat 44'minutes
- 9LongSubstituted forColeat 80'minutes
- 14HyltonSubstituted forSeedorfat 58'minutes
- William Collum
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Kilmarnock 0, Motherwell 1.
Attempt saved. Stephen O'Donnell (Kilmarnock) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Niko Hämäläinen.
Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Niko Hämäläinen.
Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Connor Johnson.
Attempt saved. Devante Cole (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt saved. Liam Polworth (Motherwell) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by James Scott.
Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Liam Grimshaw.
Attempt saved. Dom Thomas (Kilmarnock) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Niko Hämäläinen.
Attempt missed. Sherwin Seedorf (Motherwell) right footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Liam Polworth.
Substitution, Kilmarnock. Dom Thomas replaces Rory McKenzie.
Dangerous play by Liam Millar (Kilmarnock).
Mark Gillespie (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Liam Millar (Kilmarnock) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.
Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Liam Grimshaw.
Peter Hartley (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Stephen O'Donnell (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Peter Hartley (Motherwell).
Attempt saved. Eamonn Brophy (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Stephen O'Donnell.
Substitution, Motherwell. Devante Cole replaces Chris Long.