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Kilmarnock 2 Partick Thistle 1: Boyd and Samson crack the winning code

SOME home comfort for Kilmarnock at last.

This victory - the first in front of their own fans for almost two months - was perhaps fortuitously achieved given all that Partick Thistle contributed to the game, but gives Allan Johnston's players some breathing space following a fairly wretched run of results. The mood at full-time around the sparsely-filled Rugby Park stands was more relief rather than any great jubilation. The win carries Kilmarnock above their opponents into a season-high ninth place, further away from the play-off berth currently occupied by Ross County. Goalkeeper Craig Samson was the man-of-the-match following a string of vital second-half saves, but it was Kris Boyd who again emerged as Kilmarnock's hero, poking in the winner 20 minutes from time from his favourite range of a handful of yards for his ninth notch of a productive season. "The two old boys stole the show," said Johnston. "Kris was in the right place at the right time for his goal and Samson was unbelievable. It was nice to get three points having not played well."

The result was harsh on a Thistle side who created plenty of chances, but left with just one goal to show for their efforts. Alan Archibald's side, without a win since October 20, are sliding perilously down the table, their bright start following last season's promotion fast becoming a distant memory. "You've got to take your chances or you will be punished," said Archibald. "This league can be unforgiving at times."

A humdrum first half was enlivened with a goal four minutes before its end. It went Kilmarnock's way, a cross from Rory McKenzie reaching Chris Johnston via a touch from Boyd. The midfielder was on to it in a flash, rifling a low shot past Scott Fox from the edge of the penalty box. It was the 19-year-old's third goal in his last four games. Thistle could feel unlucky to be behind at the interval. They had created - but missed - the best of the relatively few chances of an evenly-competed opening period. Kris Doolan saw his effort repelled by Samson, James Craigen fizzed in a shot that went narrowly wide, before Steven Lawless did similar following a powerful run.

Thistle despondency, however, would temporarily dissipate early in the second half when they drew level. Aaron Taylor-Sinclair's throw-in made its way to Doolan who made space before planting a firm shot past Samson for his seventh goal of the campaign. That was the catalyst for a period of Thistle dominance that should have brought a second goal - but didn't. Christie Elliott thundered in a shot that Samson was happy to push over his crossbar, before Lawless missed an absolute snip at the back post, somehow scudding the ball over the bar when it seemed easier to score.

Kilmarnock were wobbling, but salvation came from a familiar source. Jackson Irvine's shot from distance seemed to have beaten Samson of its own volition, but the sight of Boyd peeling away to celebrate told a different story, the striker having got a touch to claim the goal for himself. Thistle weren't done, however, and Kilmarnock had their keeper to thank on two occasions for helping secure the win. Higginbotham couldn't get his shot past Samson after good work by John Baird, before the stopper was again tested by a Ross Forbes free kick that he scooped away as it drifted towards the top corner.

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