KILMARNOCK must defeat either Hibs or Falkirk over a two-legged play-off final or drop out of Scotland’s top flight for the first time in nearly quarter of a century. Lee Clark’s side were defeated 2-0 by Partick Thistle at Rugby Park yesterday and the loss, coupled with 10th-place Hamilton’s victory at Dundee, meant the Ayrshire outfit can finish no higher than 11th.

“It’s a disappointment for everyone at the club,” Clark conceded. “But we will dust ourselves down and come out fighting for the play-off games.

“We won’t sit here crying like little babies and we will be ready for whomever we face. We knew it was a big ask to win today, against a team that only missed out on the top six by a single goal, but it was disappointing to lose in that manner.”

Kilmarnock goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald made no excuses. “We deserve to be in the position we are in,” he admitted. “I don’t know if we’ve put back-to-back wins together all season and it is that inconsistency that has killed us.

“We need to put that right in the play-off games, whoever we face. It is not just about players and our futures, it is the fans, the community and all the hard-working people behind the scenes at the club whose jobs could be at risk.”

The Ayrshire club, promoted to the Premier League back in 1993, must now overcome either Alan Stubbs’ Scottish Cup finalists or Falkirk, beaten just four times in the league all season, or join Dundee United in dropping down to Scottish football’s second tier.