Match ends, Kilmarnock 2, Hamilton Academical 0.
Kilmarnock manager Alex Dyer hailed "outstanding" Greg Kiltie after his brace gave his side a comfortable Scottish Premiership win over Hamilton Academical.
Kiltie turned in Youssouf Mulumbu's shot before curling a lovely strike beyond Kyle Gourlay after the break.
The win moved Kilmarnock up to seventh and Dyer urged Kiltie to continue to lead the side.
"Kiltie was outstanding from start to finish," he said.
"When we first came in, Kiltie was injured - he had a bad injury and was out for 18 months.
"It takes time to get back. This year, he's come back really fit. He was excellent in pre-season and he's just carried on during the season and hopefully it's his time now to step up and show what he can do."
The defeat sends Brian Rice's side down to 11th, one point off the bottom.
Kilmarnock have been revived in their past three games by picking up seven points, having been in trouble before that after five straight defeats.
Striker Eamonn Brophy made much of the headlines this week as he departed the club for Premiership rivals St Mirren on loan, manager Alex Dyer having said he would not play the 24-year-old after he signed a pre-contract with the Paisley club.
It was apt, then, that Kiltie, playing off Danny Whitehall up front, would perhaps demonstrate why the club were willing to let Brophy go.
He was lively from the start, jinking into the box and dragging a shot just wide with the game goalless. Kiltie did not have to wait much longer for his reward as he cleverly turned in Mulumbu's sclaffed shot following two failed Hamilton clearances.
By that point, the home side might have been out of sight, having had claims for two penalties turned down, both for handball, as first David Moyo and then Hakeem Odoffin appeared to block efforts from Stuart Findlay and Kiltie with an outstretched arm.
Kilmarnock's momentum, though, continued after the break and Kiltie did brilliantly to drop his shoulder and all but seal the victory with a fine shot into the corner.
Hamilton were shorn of injured captain Brian Easton and centre-half Aaron Martin, who just three hours before kick-off was notified he needed to self-isolate after being deemed a close contact of a positive Covid case.
It left Rice - who already has a depleted squad - without his two more experienced defenders, who have done well of late. It showed for both goals, with failed clearances costing them for Kiltie's opener and a lack of communication allowing the Kilmarnock forward far too much space for his second.
That said, had Odoffin crashed his first-half header into the net rather than off the bar at 0-0, the game may have turned out differently.
Man of the match - Greg Kiltie
What did we learn?
Kiltie has been a vital part of Kilmarnock's revival. Having come into the team against Motherwell at the end of last month and scored, he has gone from strength to strength.
His movement, energy and brilliant right foot made him a handful for a youthful Accies defence and the quality of his goals demonstrated his ability.
That's now five goals for the season for the academy product and his upturn in form has helped transform a Kilmarnock side who were toiling for goals and who have now lost one of their striking options in Brophy.
Hamilton, meanwhile, were dealt the blow of losing Martin, so crucial to a recent run of four clean sheets in their last seven matches, right before kick-off. It compounded the loss of Easton to injury and the youthful back three of Jamie Hamilton, George Stanger and Ben Stirling were given a tough day.
Rice needs numbers into his squad if they want to stave off the drop again, but recruiting in January is tough as it is, never mind in the midst of a global pandemic. The Hamilton boss has had his fair share of bad luck this season.
What they said
Kilmarnock manager Alex Dyer: "It could have been a lot more, but I'm glad with the 2-0.
"Kiltie was outstanding with two good goals. This year he's come back really fit, he was excellent in pre-season and he's carried it on. Hopefully it's his time to step up and show what he can do."
Hamilton head coach Brian Rice: "I don't think there was too much in the game. Kilmarnock were the better team first half - but the second goal kills the game.
"But I think at 1-0 we were always in the game. I think a bit of inexperience cost us for the second goal."
Kilmarnock travel to Edinburgh to face Hibernian at Easter Road next Saturday (15:00 GMT), while Hamilton host Dundee United at the same time.
- 29BurkeSubstituted forPinnockat 79'minutes
- 6PowerSubstituted forTshibolaat 86'minutes
- 21MulumbuSubstituted forDaboat 79'minutes
- 12WhitehallSubstituted forKabambaat 79'minutes
- 6HamiltonBooked at 90mins
- 20MoyoSubstituted forSmithat 45'minutes
- Grant Irvine
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Kilmarnock 2, Hamilton Academical 0.
Jamie Hamilton (Hamilton Academical) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Greg Kiltie (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Jamie Hamilton (Hamilton Academical).
Attempt saved. Lee Hodson (Hamilton Academical) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Callum Smith.
Substitution, Kilmarnock. Aaron Tshibola replaces Alan Power.
Greg Kiltie (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Lee Hodson (Hamilton Academical).
Corner, Hamilton Academical. Conceded by Aaron McGowan.
Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Charlie Trafford.
Attempt blocked. Mitchell Pinnock (Kilmarnock) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Rory McKenzie.
Foul by Diaguely Dabo (Kilmarnock).
Charlie Trafford (Hamilton Academical) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Hand ball by Greg Kiltie (Kilmarnock).
Foul by Diaguely Dabo (Kilmarnock).
Charlie Trafford (Hamilton Academical) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Kilmarnock. Diaguely Dabo replaces Youssouf Mulumbu.
Substitution, Kilmarnock. Nicke Kabamba replaces Daniel Whitehall.
Substitution, Kilmarnock. Mitchell Pinnock replaces Chris Burke.