THE ball crashed into the net and Nicke Kabamba darted to his left, escaping the clutches of Greg Kiltie, before the embrace of Gary Dicker, Aaron Tshibola, and Ross Millen stopped him in his tracks.

It was 2-1 to Kilmarnock, the home side having shaken off a man disadvantage to take the lead against Hamilton.

With goal celebrations in a Covid-19 world having filled the pre-match talk, the impressive Kabamba gingerly accepted his team-mates’ congratulations and Kilmarnock claimed just their second win of the campaign.

“We deserved it and we dug deep,” Kabamba said. “The game definitely changed when we went down to 10 men, but we have managed to grind out a result. I was happy to grab the winner, especially as at the corner it was my man who grabbed the goal. So, it was a bit of a bounce back.

“Winning by a bigger margin is good, but you have to grind out a result, especially if you are a man down. We have the character in the changing room.”

In the clash of the titans, Kabamba gave as good as he got against Accies’ behemoths Shaun Want and Hakeem Odoffin. But the 27-year-old’s tussle was made all the more difficult when strike partner Eamonn Brophy was dismissed after 23 minutes for leaving his studs in on Scott McMann.

HeraldScotland:  Eamonn Brophy was sent off for Killie Eamonn Brophy was sent off for Killie

By then Greg Kiltie had fired Killie ahead only for Odoffin to equalise from a David Templeton delivery.

“It was definitely a striker’s challenge and I have told him that in there!” Kabamba said.

“It was a tough, tough shift but defensively we were brilliant.”

Accies struggled to break down Kilmarnock, even with an extra man, and despite having lost four players during the week due to Covid-19, they were not looking for excuses.

“That’s just something we have to get on with nowadays,” said Shaun Want. “We are majorly disappointed. From front to back, no one got pass marks. It’s not good enough from the whole team.”