TOMMY Wright says that his Kilmarnock players will go into their Premiership play-off double-header with Dundee with their confidence up and their heads held high after a brace from Mitch Pinnock secured a 2-0 win over Hamilton on the final day of the regular campaign.

Killie went into yesterday’s match knowing a victory over Accies coupled with a Motherwell win against Ross County at Fir Park would be enough to secure their Premiership status for another year.

Events elsewhere in Lanarkshire ensured it didn’t work out that way but with the two-legged play-off final beckoning, Wright insists that his men have found form right when it really matters.

“It’s disappointing but we knew the situation going in,” said the Killie boss. “I’m pleased we’re going into the play-off on the run of form that we’re in.

“We’ve only lost one of our last 10 over 90 minutes and we look as if we’re a real goal threat. Over two legs we will go into it with confidence based on the performances we’ve had recently.

“I’m just concentrating on the form we’re in at the minute. I think that’s something like 26 goals in 10 games and it should have been more today. We’re on a good run of form and we’ll remain positive between now and Thursday.”

Accies needed a miracle to survive – a victory by a nine-goal margin would have been enough to send Kilmarnock down in their stead – and that task was then made even more arduous when they found themselves trailing with 10 minutes played.

The visitors shifted the ball about neatly as they advanced up the park, with Ross Millen being released down the right. The full-back curled in a superb low cross into a dangerous area and Pinnock read it well to dart in front of his marker and stroke the ball home first time.

Hamilton still had pride to play for, though, as they went about grabbing an equaliser. The lively Lewis Smith always looked like the most likely route to goal for the hosts, so perhaps it was no surprise that Accies’ best chance of the first half fell the forward’s way. He did well to fashion some space and burst into the box but his goal-bound strike was closed down before it could seriously threaten the goalkeeper.

It was a fairly scrappy game and chances weren’t forthcoming for either side. A slightly over-hit Pinnock cross was just too far in front of Kyle Lafferty to turn in and while Chris Burke did well to keep it alive, Pinnock’s follow-up effort was hastily closed down and deflected behind for a corner.

Pinnock may have been denied in that instance but he made amends minutes later to double Killie’s advantage. The away side countered directly and with purpose, with Gary Dicker sending his team-mate scarpering through for a one-on-one with a delightfully weighted through ball. Pinnock kept his composure as Jamie Smith rushed off his line to narrow the angle, with the winger rolling the ball into the bottom corner for 2-0.

To their credit, Accies came out for the second half with a renewed sense of purpose as Rice’s men went about reducing the arrears. But for all their industry, Colin Doyle in the visitors’ goal was rarely called into action as Hamilton struggled to produce that all-important final ball.

Pinnock had a great opportunity to seal his hat-trick when the ball broke favourably for him following a swift Killie counter but George Stanger reacted superbly to throw his body in front of the shot and keep it at 2-0.

The same man then missed an even greater chance moments later. Aaron Martin dallied with the ball at his feet and was promptly robbed of the ball by Lafferty, with the Hamilton man scything the Northern Irishman down in the box as he desperately lunged after the ball. Pinnock stepped up to take the penalty but Smith guessed correctly to turn the ball past the far post with an excellent stop.

Substitutes David Moyo and Nathan Thomas both went close for the home side late on but the writing had been on the wall for some time. The full-time whistle soon rang out, and Hamilton’s seven-year stay in the top flight was brought to an end.

“It’s disappointing for everybody connected with the club – every single player, coach, owner, supporter. It’s so disappointing but we’ve got to use that as a tool,” said Hamilton boss Brian Rice.

“We’ve got to remember that disappointment to spur us on and that’s what we’ll do. There’s no time for looking back, there’s no time for regrets and there’s no time for excuses.

“We need to start looking forward because we are where we are. We need to accept that.”