Kevin Nisbet might grab the headlines after Hibs' win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park yesterday, but it was Christian Doidge who was hailed by manager Jack Ross as the difference maker.

Doidge was a handful for Killie's defence all afternoon, winning headers, linking play and winning the penalty which was converted by his strike partner to seal the points on a relatively even afternoon that could have been a goalless draw on another day.

And Ross beamed at full-time over his Welsh frontman for putting himself about and doing the dirty work for his side. "I thought Christian was brilliant, really really good. Kevin gets the headline because he takes the penalty and scores the winner but Christian was excellent."

The visitors looked comfortable for the majority of the afternoon with goalkeeper Ofir Marciano having one of his quietest games in a Hibs jersey. And Ross believes the win is the perfect preparation for the upcoming Scottish Cup semi-final against rivals Hearts this weekend. "I'm excited about it now I must admit. For a manager the minute one game ends the thoughts turn to the next, regardless of opposition or competition.

"I've got a group of players who, on the back of today, will be excited for it and will be back at it this week. They're in the best possible frame of mind for it."

Joe Newell was first to let fly with a crisp volley from distance inside the first few minutes at Rugby Park. The midfielder lined up a bouncing clearance but his effort swerved just wide of the mark, nestling into the side netting.

Hibs looked the slicker footballing outfit with some neat, intricate passes between Martin Boyle and Nisbet in particular. Killie, meanwhile, had the benefit of Nicke Kabamba's presence up top and Chris Burke's guile on the flank. And they certainly made use of both, content to play longer balls into the area when possible.

It was a former Hearts man who conceded the spot-kick early doors to Christian Doidge after clever play from the towering striker. Clevid Dikamona allowed the Welshman in front despite a head start on the ball and tripped his man. Referee Colin Steven took his time on the decision but whistled, and Nisbet slotted it home past a fooled Danny Rogers who had gone the wrong way.

That was Dikamona's final real involvement as he was forced off on a stretcher after what looked like a real sore one. Inexplicably it was Scotland cap Stuart Findlay who replaced him - despite not appearing on the match day squad list.

Greg Kiltie had an effort cleared off the line for the hosts before the break but it was the visitors again who threatened more after the restart. Doidge first of all troubled Rogers from a cross-ball before the same attacker fired a strike from distance which was well blocked by Findlay.

Stevie Mallan had been quiet by his standards and it took just over and hour for the midfielder to create his first opportunity for a teammate. The former St Mirren man did well on the edge of the Killie box and flicked an outside of his right boot to send Paul McGinn rushing in on goal from the right. His first-time hit sailed wide.

And it was Mallan himself who had to score moments later. Doidge laid the ball off just inside the Killie half and, unchallenged, the playmaker drifted inside and shot wide. He had even more time and space than he realised and the chance was wasted. Rogers then parried a Newell effort as the clock wound down.

Home boss Alex Dyer was frustrated at the penalty conceded and was adamant the foul began outside the box. However he was ready to put the disappointment behind him to focus on the next match at full-time. He said: "It's definitely outside the box and it has cost us the game.

"The referee said it was given by the far side linesman, which to me doesn't make any sense. It's a hard one to take but we'll have to dust ourselves down and go again."