This piece is an extract from yesterday's The Rugby Road Gates newsletter, which is emailed out at 6pm every Wednesday. To receive our full, free Kilmarnock newsletter straight to your email inbox, click here.

Not until the final two matches of the 2022/23 campaign did Kilmarnock manage to string two wins back-to-back. With victories over Livingston and Aberdeen in the last week, they’ve managed to much earlier this season. It’s a sign of the progress made under Derek McInnes. Last term was far from pretty, in fact, it was very ugly at times. The players in the ranks are of a higher quality this time around and those who remained in the building are showing their capabilities.

The consensus after the 2-0 win over Aberdeen was that it was as comfortable an afternoon against the Dons as you could wish to have. It’s not necessarily a viewpoint I subscribe to. I actually think they were considerably worse when they rocked up at Rugby Park last December under Jim Goodwin. They really should have ended in a hammering - it was one of the best performances of the campaign.

Anyway, Killie were streets ahead once again and McInnes’ side now has a golden chance to make it three wins on the trot on the travels to Perth tonight. Alec Cleland is in interim charge of St Johnstone who are without a league win this season. While a highly sought-after away victory would be great in terms of boosting Killie’s top six ambitions, more importantly, it probably eliminates the chance of being automatically relegated. The gap over Saints would be extended to 12 points. With high confidence levels, there’s no reason why it can’t happen.

The Herald:

I would love to see the same team again and keep the momentum going, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see a few tweaks. Liam Donnelly could come in for Brad Lyons for example, while Robbie Deas could start to allow for some caution with regards to Joe Wright’s knock picked up. With another game against Motherwell to follow in three days, the squad will need to be rotated at some point.

Here are five potential key battles to look out for at McDiarmid Park…

Kyle Vassell vs Liam Gordon

As predicted in these rumblings a few weeks ago, the big man has come good once again. Vass is the main leader in the team and rightly holds the armband. His performance levels in the last two matches have been superb and it was so pleasing to see the main striker score three goals. He’s a confident individual – he will fancy himself all day long against this leaky Saints defence tonight. Gordon is a tough competitor, but as shown a few times this season, he can be easily rattled.

Matty Kennedy vs James Brown

If Corrie Ndaba had been fit to play at the weekend, Kennedy would have likely found himself on the bench for the second week in a row. He certainly reminded everyone of his abilities when facing off against his former employers. The winger has many ex-teams, and Saints just so happen to be another. He carries the ball well and allows the team to get up the pitch. His dribbling ability is probably his top attribute, and he is the best Killie has got in terms of one-on-ones. Brown struggled badly versus St Mirren with two major mistakes. Killie will have him targeted if he plays.

Brad Lyons vs Max Kucheriavyi

I could foresee Lyons being rested, but if not, then I’ll be delighted as his battling qualities will be needed. He’s been a joy to watch and I’ve grown to become a massive fan of his. He’s the type of player that naturally goes unnoticed for doing a lot of the donkey work, but the Northern Ireland international is such a vital dog in the machine. Like David Watson, he is a proper box-to-box midfielder and both help to complement Liam Polworth’s skills in possession.

Stuart Findlay vs Stevie May

May has struggled for game time this season, but with Saints posing as such an unknown quantity ahead of this game, I get the feeling he could start as Cleland looks to revert to what a stereotypical Saints team would previously look like. Findlay put in a top-drawer performance on Sunday, showing his pace, recovery and reading of the game is up there with the best in the league. Depending on McInnes’ selection, he could play in the middle or left of the back three. Going by his quotes on Open Goal, he’s growing increasingly confident and I get the feeling he will improve as long as Killie’s form continues.

Danny Armstrong vs Luke Robinson

Killie’s talisman is another player I have focussed on in this newsletter in a previous edition. He’s the most valuable player at the club - his numbers are incredibly consistent. He was getting next to no change out of Jack McKenzie during the first half on Sunday, but he still made an impact for the opening goal when it counted. He believes he’s better than the man he’s up against and will back himself to get the better over the course and distance.

Like all Killie fans, I was saddened to hear of Craig Benson’s passing. Here’s hoping the team can get a win for him. RIP Craig.