Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers called on his players to improve their mentality after Kilmarnock’s late equaliser handed Rangers the initiative in the Premiership title race.

Rodgers thought they had got away with a poor performance as Celtic led through Kyogo Furuhashi’s 32nd-minute header when the clock struck 90 minutes.

But Killie had created several chances and caused problems for Celtic with their pressing and David Watson headed home in stoppage-time after substitute Alexandro Bernabei misjudged Fraser Murray’s cross.

Matt O’Riley was denied several times as Celtic looked for a second goal either side of the break but they struggled to create chances in the final half hour.

Rodgers said: “We lacked authority on the ball, we lacked composure, all the things you need to do to control the game. We looked nervous on the ball and, especially second half, we created nowhere near what we would want to.

“It’s happened too many times over the course of the season. We have played well in spells but then when we haven’t taken our chances and a wee bit of anxiety creeps in, you have to be able to deal with that pressure.

“I have been here often enough and had enough games here as a manager to understand the pressures of taking the ball and dealing with it and we didn’t do that well enough. It’s bitterly disappointing.”

Rodgers, whose side had already lost twice to Killie this season, added: “It is not about ability or technique now, it is about mentality. It is about not letting that man go past you and having that drive and composure to play.

“We saw it the second half, even though we were not under great pressure we kept making it hard for ourselves.”

Rangers were seven points behind when Philippe Clement took over eight games into the cinch Premiership season but the Light Blues will go two ahead if they beat St Johnstone in Perth on Sunday.

Rodgers dismissed suggestions the pressure of the title race was a factor.

“Irrespective of how Rangers play or work, it’s nothing to do with us,” he said.

“It was us giving the ball away and being nervous. That has nothing to do with anyone other than ourselves.

“It doesn’t matter what anyone else does. It can’t be allowed to continue because we’ll get to the pressure point of the season eventually.

“It’s now about the mind game. Physically and technically you’re in a good place so it’s all about the mind now.”

Killie manager Derek McInnes felt his side were well worth a point.

“It didn’t feel like a smash and grab, coming here and defending for 90-odd minutes and then nicking an equaliser,” he said. “It wasn’t that at all.

“We had to suffer first half at times with possession. We allowed the Celtic players that we wanted to have more touches of the ball than some of the other ones. I thought we dealt with their four wide players well.

“We picked and chose our moments to get after them and got our reward.”

McInnes played down first-half penalty claims when Marley Watkins argued he had been taken down from behind by Stephen Welsh.

“Marley’s adamant it was a penalty,” McInnes said. “I’ve seen it a couple of times, it looks the like the defender’s first touch has taken the ball.”

Kilmarnock once again proved a thorn in Celtic’s side as David Watson headed a stoppage-time equaliser at Parkhead to deal a major blow to the Hoops’ title hopes.

A first-half header from Kyogo Furuhashi looked like being just enough to send Celtic three points ahead of Rangers in the cinch Premiership title race.

But Watson headed into the corner of the net from fellow substitute Fraser Murray’s cross after Alexandro Bernabei had misjudged the flight of the ball.

The 1-1 draw gives Rangers the chance to move two points clear at the top of the table when they face St Johnstone in Perth on Sunday, having already clawed back a seven-point deficit since Philippe Clement took over eight games into the season.

Kilmarnock had already beaten their hosts twice at Rugby Park this season – once in the Viaplay Cup – and their late goal came from one of 12 shots at goal.

Joe Hart twice saved well from Liam Donnelly and Killie manager Derek McInnes was frustrated his side did not get a penalty for Stephen Welsh’s sliding challenge on Marley Watkins.

Neither referee John Beaton nor video assistant Willie Collum were convinced by Watkins’ appeals but it looked a risky challenge.

Celtic had left-back Greg Taylor back from a calf injury while Israel international Liel Abada was still absent after it was decided he was not in the right frame of mind to play following talks with manager Brendan Rodgers.

The game started amid a vocal tribute to the Palestinian people from the Celtic support, some of whom held up banners stating “30,000+ dead, 12,000+ children, end the genocide, end Zionism”.

On the park, Watkins saw a header saved from an early chance.

Adam Idah was showing some good touches up front for Celtic and one flick paved the way for Callum McGregor to play in Luis Palma. The winger had options but chose to cut inside and goalkeeper Will Dennis came out to block his shot.

The breakthrough came in the 32nd minute when Anthony Ralston ended a spell of tight passing as he noticed Furuhashi peeling off Joe Wright to the back post. The right-back floated a perfect ball for the the Japanese striker to loop the ball home.

Killie responded well and twice threatened following Danny Armstrong crosses. Hart stopped Donnelly’s close-ranger header and then Watkins went down clutching his ankle after Welsh’s sliding penalty-box challenge.

Referee John Beaton waved play on and the game continued after a short delay following the next stoppage.

Celtic had chances to ease the tension. McGregor shot over and Matt O’Riley was denied twice by Dennis and once by Corrie Ndaba’s goalline clearance.

Taylor was replaced by Bernabei on the hour mark in what looked a pre-planned move.

Killie sensed there was something to take from the game with Armstrong at the centre of much of their attacking play.

Donnelly met the winger’s inswinging free-kick and powered a header which Hart pushed over. Armstrong then had a chance of his own but mis-kicked a shot wide when Ndaba’s cross found him beyond the back post.

Celtic got back on top but substitute Paulo Bernardo shot over from 14 yards after getting the chance to make it a more comfortable final 10 minutes.

The home crowd grew audibly more anxious and Watson missed from close range before getting space at the back post to head into the bottom corner.

Celtic threw men forward but it was the visitors who came closer to a last-gasp winner when Murray broke and fired a low shot which Hart got down to save.

Kilmarnock assistant manager Paul Sheerin was key to one of the biggest Scottish Gas Scottish Cup shocks of all time and it remains a lesson ahead of Cove Rangers’ visit to Rugby Park.

The 49-year-old scored a clinching third goal from the spot for Inverness when their 3-1 defeat of Celtic on February 8, 2000, sent shockwaves across the nation and beyond, the victory eliciting the famous newspaper headline “Super Caley go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious.”

Derek McInnes’s side are in fine form, sitting in fourth place in the cinch Premiership but with first-hand knowledge of what can happen in cup football, Sheerin believes the Ayrshire outfit have to guard against becoming an unlikely victim when they take on Paul Hartley’s League One side on Saturday.

He said: “It is nice memories. It shows you what can happen and obviously upsets do happen.

“It was a momentous occasion for the club, they were relatively new to the league and that was part and parcel of the shock as well.

“There was belief because you always have to believe as players.

“I know Paul (Hartley) spoke about not feeling any real pressure which is understandable.

“At that time, Inverness had that mindset that there was no great pressure on us, no one expected us to do anything so that took the edge of it and we tried to enjoy it as much as we could, and obviously the way it worked out was something that nobody really expected.

“Cove will come here determined to be one of the clubs who cause an upset.

“We have done our work and hopefully that will stand us in good stead and not allow a shock tomorrow. Your attitude and application has to be spot on.

“We know what they will come with, we know shocks can happen but hopefully we will not allow that tomorrow.”

Corrie Ndaba returns after a two-game ban after being controversially sent off against Hibernian.

The defender initially saw yellow for a tackle on Jair Tavares before it was upgraded following a VAR check and it left McInnes fuming as the visitors came back to draw 2-2.

It was the 24-year-old’s first red card of his career, but he insists it will have no impact in the way he plays the game.

He said: “I was a bit surprised. I don’t think it was a red card, but the referee said from the follow-through, it was a red so there was not much I could do.

“It gets a bit technical these days. Obviously I got the ball first and the follow-through has gone into his ankle.

“I didn’t really have anywhere to put my leg, but the referee has decided to give me a red card so I have to take my medicine.

“I always tackle clean, that is the way I play so I am just going to play as normal.”

Centre-back Robbie Deas is recovering from a fractured cheekbone, while midfielders Brad Lyons and Kyle Magennis remain absent after respective cartilage and hamstring problems.

Derek McInnes urged his players to savour their late 1-0 victory over Livingston after suffering for the majority of a difficult encounter.

Marley Watkins struck a crucial winner with two minutes left after Premiership strugglers Livi had frustrated their hosts for much the evening.

A lack of composure in front of goal was to prove costly for David Martindale’s side as they were punished late on, allowing Kilmarnock to claim their first win of 2024 and strengthen their grip on fourth place in the table.

“We’re not going to be in a rush to watch the game back again, but a late winner is always so welcome – sometimes they are the best ones,” said McInnes.

“I told the players to enjoy it because it wasn’t enjoyable – but enjoy winning the game.

“We struggled for any fluency, we gave the ball away, chose the wrong option and lacked confidence – which was strange as we’d only lost one in 10.

“We’ll take that but we need to learn from it, as the season goes on there will be a little bit more pressure on each game.”

McInnes was especially pleased at the impact of his substitutes, who all played a vital role in turning the game in Killie’s favour.

The home side were much improved after half-time when the Rugby Park boss turned to his bench.

The changes paid dividends as Matty Kennedy picked out fellow sub Kevin van Veen to nod the ball into Watkins’ path for the winner.

“Half-time came at the right time and the subs that we made definitely helped us,” he added.

“We knew a point wasn’t really going to help us too much for what we’re trying to do. We tried to chase the game a bit.

“Van Veen’s quality showed, even just a few touches, none more so than the goal — it’s a brilliant win for us and I couldn’t be more pleased.”

Livi boss Martindale was disappointed as his side were let down by a lack of composure in front of goal.

The Lions are now 17 Premiership games without a win and sit six points adrift at the foot of the table.

“I thought defensively we were very, very good in the shape – we defended very well,” he said.

“I felt we had the better chances in the game, I felt tonight was probably more on the offensive players at the club if I’m being brutally honest.

“I don’t believe performances alone are enough to make it turn but there are very few performances that I’ve came in worried.

“I’m frustrated for the players more so than me because I can feel the anxiety and frustration in the changing room.”

Kevin van Veen is on his way to Kilmarnock after the Ayrshire club fended off competition from Motherwell and St Mirren for the Dutch striker.

Van Veen, scorer of 29 goals for Motherwell last season, has revealed he is joining Killie on loan until the end of the season.

Motherwell lost out on taking the player back after failing to match Killie and St Mirren’s financial input with the Rugby Park side set to pay the majority of his Groningen wages.

The 32-year-old scored five goals earlier this season but lost his place in the team after a disagreement with the manager and was keen to return to Scotland to be with his family.

Hibernian signed two 20-year-old centre-backs on loan as the winter transfer window entered its final evening with their new relationship with Bournemouth quickly bearing fruit.

Hibs landed Nectarios Triantis from Sunderland and Owen Bevan from Bournemouth until the end of the season.

Australia Under-23 international Triantis was a regular under Hibs head coach Nick Montgomery during Central Coast Mariners’ A-League title-winning season before making three appearances for Sunderland this term.

Wales Under-21 international Bevan has played in the Premier League for the Cherries and spent time on loan with Cheltenham this season. Hibs this week received approval from the Scottish Football Association to progress with an investment in the club from Bournemouth’s owners.

Dundee, Livingston, Motherwell and St Johnstone have also made additions but more business is expected at Celtic and Rangers, among others.

Celtic are set to wrap up the loan signing of Norwich and Republic of Ireland striker Adam Idah, who has scored seven goals this season, after the 22-year-old arrived in Glasgow on Wednesday.

Several players could be on their way out of Celtic Park with David Turnbull and Mikey Johnston tipped to join Cardiff and West Brom respectively, and James Forrest linked with an exit.

But Gustaf Lagerbielke’s proposed loan move to Italian side Lecce could be scuppered amid reports of further injury concerns over his fellow centre-back Cameron Carter-Vickers.

Rangers are expected to complete the signing of 20-year-old Colombia winger Oscar Cortes on loan from Lens with an option to buy after he arrived in Glasgow.

The Light Blues look to have been thwarted in their bid to land Brazilian left-back Jefte from Fluminense, with loan club APOEL Nicosia reportedly intent on keeping him until the end of the campaign.

However, uncertainty remains over the future of Gers left-back Ridvan Yilmaz, with Galatasaray said to be preparing an offer.

Reports from Italy also claimed Hellas Verona were set to launch a bid to sign striker Cyriel Dessers.

Dundee re-signed Norwich goalkeeper Jon McCracken on loan. McCracken’s return to Dens Park came following an initial loan deal being terminated in August after he lost his place to Trevor Carson.

The 23-year-old went on to join Accrington on an emergency loan and played 13 times and now cannot play for anyone else this season other than Dundee.

With Carson missing some games recently through injury, manager Tony Docherty told his club’s website: “It is important for me to have strong competition in every position for the last part of the season and I want that with our goalkeepers and bringing Jon in gives us a real level of competition.”

Livingston have signed midfielder David Carson on an 18-month deal after the 28-year-old made more than 160 appearances for Inverness.

Aberdeen are said to have failed in an effort to re-sign Mattie Pollock on loan from Watford while Motherwell have sealed a loan deal for Rangers full-back Adam Devine.

St Johnstone announced the signing of striker Adama Sidibeh for an undisclosed fee from Northern Premier League club Warrington Rylands. The 25-year-old has signed until May 2026.

Ross County were confident of signing one more player before the deadline.

Outside of the top flight, Queen’s Park head coach Callum Davidson believes he has pulled off “a bit of a coup” by signing 32-year-old former Liverpool, Rangers and Scotland defender Danny Wilson from Colorado Rapids.

Lowland League side Albion Rovers sold striker Joe Bevan to Premier League Burnley for an undisclosed fee. The 19-year-old scored 15 goals for Rovers after joining from Camelon 12 months ago.

Kilmarnock boss Derek McInnes was left “even more disappointed” when he questioned Scottish Football Association referee chief Crawford Allan about Corrie Ndaba’s red card.

With the home side leading 2-1 against Hibernian on Saturday, Ndaba was sent off for a challenge on Jair Tavares, with referee Grant Irvine upgrading his yellow to red after being advised by VAR Nick Walsh to consult the pitch side monitor.

McInnes’s frustration was compounded when Hibees substitute Myziane Maolida fired in a late equaliser to salvage a point for the visitors.

The Killie boss spoke to Allan, head of referee operations at the SFA, but was not satisfied with what he heard.

“I was disappointed at the time (of the sending off) and that is still the case,” said McInnes, who revealed Robbie Deas had an operation on a fractur to his cheekbone on Monday sustained against Dundee which keeps him out for “the next few weeks”.

“I had a conversation with the refereeing department on Monday and I was even more disappointed after that conversation because of the take on it. His explanation was, the justification for the red card.

“They felt the decision was right, rather than a mistake.

“We totally disagreed on the reasons. Without going into it too much, it was more the exiting of the tackle but at least we had the conversation.

“My feeling is that we have to remind ourselves and re-set what VAR was brought in for.

“It has affected what happened on Saturday because it potentially cost us two extra points because we could have won the game, no guarantees of course but  it affects us the next two games with Corrie being suspended.

“The referee is three yards away, he is in the heat of the battle and he’s seen it for what it was, a yellow card. I didn’t think it was a yellow card.

“I will say to you what I said to Crawford Allan and there is no one who will tell me any differently.

“If Corrie gets yellow carded and the game gets played out, there is no one from the Hibs end, or the media, commenting that it was a ridiculous decision, why didn’t VAR get involved, why wasn’t it a red card? I think they have made it a thing by getting involved.

“Let the referee referee the game. He’s seen it for what it was. Give the referees more autonomy and more responsibility.

“I think it was wrong for VAR to get involved. We haven’t appealed it. I didn’t think there was any real point.”

On potential signings before the transfer window closes on Thursday, McInnes said: “We may still look to add one if we can but certainly no one leaving.”

Derek McInnes urged Kilmarnock to fight to the final whistle in their Scottish Gas Scottish Cup tie against Dundee after suffering a double disappointment against the Dens Park side in the cinch Premiership this season.

The Dee grabbed a last-gasp equaliser through captain Joe Shaughnessy in the 2-2 draw in Ayrshire on December 30 after the home side had taken the lead with a Rory McKenzie goal in the third minute of added time.

Killie had also succumbed to Dundee late in the game in September when Zak Rudden’s added-time goal for the 10-man hosts gave Tony Docherty’s side a point in a 2-2 draw.

McInnes, happy to add striker Greg Stewart to his squad on Thursday after the 33-year-old arrived from Indian Super League side Mumbai City, reflected on the two late setbacks against his former assistant Docherty as he looked forward to the fourth-round tie on Saturday.

He said: “We score in the 93rd, 94th minute and you automatically feel that’s the game in the bag, but the people who can’t think that way are the players and you’ve still got to see the job through.

“Dundee have scored a lot of goals from set-plays so the one thing you can guarantee in any game is the ball is coming in your box so you’ve got to withstand that.

“I think in open play we’ve been pretty comfortable against them. They do carry a threat at set-plays with the size they’ve got and both equalising goals were from corner kicks in the dying embers of the game.

“That’s allowed us to drop four points in the league which always nags away at you. I think it’s important that we try and focus on the good when we’ve played Dundee and just remember that we’ve got a job to see it through if we’re in a similar position, but we’re going to have to work hard to get ourselves in front.

“I think it will be a tight match, a competitive match, a lot of good players in both teams. It’s a cup tie and we want to do well in the cup, we see the importance of the cup as well as having a strong league campaign.”

Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes believes Greg Stewart’s eagerness to return to Rugby Park will ensure he can hit the ground running.

Killie won the race to sign the 33-year-old forward and he could feature against former club Dundee in the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup fourth round in Ayrshire on Saturday if paperwork is completed in time.

Stewart scored eight goals in 16 appearances for Killie in the first half of the 2018-19 season before joining McInnes at Aberdeen in another loan move from Birmingham.

He is now back at Kilmarnock on a deal until the end of the season after spending two-and-a-half years in the Indian Super League, most recently with Mumbai City.

McInnes told his club’s website: “We are delighted to get Greg in, his eagerness to come and be a part of what we’re trying to do here is a big factor.

“He now joins the squad and will try and help us reach our objectives for the rest of the campaign.

“The fact he’s been at the club before means there’s a familiarity about it, he will fit right in.

“We are looking forward to try and get that impact we know he can bring for the rest of the season.”

Philippe Clement is “still curious” about the potential of Rangers after they went into the winter break with a bounce-back 3-1 win over Kilmarnock and still on the heels of Celtic.

The Belgian had lost his first game as Gers boss since taking over in October in the narrow 2-1 Old Firm defeat at Parkhead on Saturday but late first-half goals from wide-men Ross McCausland and Abdallah Sima at Ibrox on Tuesday had the Light Blues in control at the break.

Danny Armstrong reduced the deficit in the 58th minute with a penalty awarded after VAR intervention but Todd Cantwell soon restored the two-goal cushion to keep them eight points behind cinch Premiership leaders Celtic with two games in hand.

The Gers players will enjoy a few days off before going to Spain for a training camp next week.

Clement has already brought the Viaplay Cup back to Ibrox and guided the club into the last 16 of the Europa League and was asked about the potential of his squad.

He said: “I am still curious. I am happy that you speak now about the potential of this team.

“Eleven weeks ago, I heard a lot of people saying there was not potential enough in this team to do what Rangers needs to do.

“So it is positive that so many players are  growing, and that is what I want to see. I will keep a close eye, together with my staff, on who are the players staying ambitious, who are the players who are pushing. There are a lot of good examples in that way.

“You have a young lad (Ross McCausland)  who was just in the academy and now he is playing really regular in the first team because he is performing.

“Kieran Dowell, Dujon Sterling, who are now playing in other positions. They have done that for the team, or else they wouldn’t play.

“So, I think this team is in a really good way. The dressing room also.

“The atmosphere every day within the building, with the training, the ambition in the training.

“After our first defeat, which we knew would come one day, the reaction was how I wanted it. We looked at what we had to do to make good, to analyse what went wrong, what we could do better.

“I’m happy that everybody is saying they see a different team now with more of a winning mentality.

“I see more and more quality and that the team understands better and better how I want to see football, how I want to see them run together, how I want them to create spaces for other players. It becomes more and more fluid.

“If the players keep on working, stay attentive, stay concentrated then after a while it becomes more natural for them.

“So there are really positive things. It’s not about being satisfied. It’s about being ambitious to get better.”

Philippe Clement was left puzzled after Rangers conceded a rare penalty in the 3-1 win over Kilmarnock at Ibrox.

The Ibrox club had called for more transparency over VAR’s interpretation of handball after there had been no spot-kick awarded after the ball had come off Celtic defender Alistair Johnston’s hand inside the box in the 2-1 defeat at Parkhead on Saturday.

Rangers were leading 2-0 against fourth-place Killie through goals by Ross McCausland and Abdallah Sima when VAR called for a penalty check after Rory McKenzie’s cross struck the arm of Gers defender John Souttar inside the box.

Referee John Beaton went to his pitchside monitor and then pointed to the spot, with Danny Armstrong giving Jack Butland no chance before Todd Cantwell restored the two-goal lead to keep the Light Blues eight points behind Celtic with two games in hand.

It was the first penalty Rangers had conceded in 75 cinch Premiership matches since Lewis Ferguson netted for Aberdeen in a 1-1 draw in January 2022

Clement told Rangers TV: “The only downside for me is that I cannot explain to my players anymore what is handball and what is not after this game if we get a penalty against like this and a goal against like this three days after what happened at Celtic Park.

“I can’t give them an explanation and that’s different as a manager when you cannot give an explanation.

“It’s not easy. Afterwards, we can laugh and it’s not a big difference, it’s 3-0 or 3-1.

“Just for the future, it needs to be clear for everybody what is handball and what is not handball and these two situations it’s a little bit bizarre.”

Dundee manager Tony Docherty hailed the spirit of his players after captain Joe Shaughnessy’s header deep into stoppage time secured a 2-2 draw at Rugby Park.

Dundee had taken a first-half lead through Luke McCowan’s sublime low finish but Kilmarnock’s Joe Wright levelled things with five minutes remaining.

In a crazy climax, Rory McKenzie fired the home side ahead in the third minute of added time before Shaughnessy headed home Owen Beck’s corner two minutes later to ensure the match ended in a draw.

Docherty was pleased with the combination of grit and quality shown by his side.

He said: “We saw it at Dens against Kilmarnock and in the last seconds against Ross County and then today.

“That epitomises the squad that I’ve got and especially my captain Joe Shaughnessy. It’s that mentality that there is, that spirit in the team.

“When the dust settles that could be a huge point in our season.

“We’ve had a real consistent level of performance – probably outwith the Old Firm games.

“We’re a competitive team and when you display the ability level that we did in the first half and you ally that to the spirit and mentality to score a goal in the last seconds of the game, I think that’s a good recipe.

“I thought it was very much a game of two halves. I thought in the first half we were outstanding. We just needed that second goal but our level of performance was outstanding.

“I knew they were going to throw everything at us in the second half and they did. Up until four minutes to go, we had withstood that pressure.

“I was gutted we lost the goal and then the second goal goes in, but I can’t criticise these boys because what a mentality they have got.”

Killie boss Derek McInnes was proud of his players for their reaction after a poor first half, though he admitted the sucker punch at the death was “sore”.

He said: “The game is never over until its over. We lost a similar goal late on at Dens – a mistake as well.

“I thought Dundee were good value for their half-time lead. I thought they were better than us. I thought they were brighter than us and I thought they got to the pace of the game better than us.

“As good as Dundee were first half, I thought we were equally good – if not better – second half. I thought we kept asking the question, we arrived in good areas and we moved the ball well.

“I’m really pleased with the level of performance but more so the level of character. It was sheer will to turn this game around for us. It’s a sore one but it happens.

“The fourth official had told me as soon as the long throw was cleared that was the game over, which didn’t happen. But we’ve still got to defend the corner.”

Joe Shaughnessy headed in a late equaliser as Dundee drew 2-2 with Kilmarnock after a dramatic finale at Rugby Park.

Luke McCowan had given the visitors a first-half lead and they looked to be heading towards a victory until Joe Wright’s header brought Killie level with five minutes remaining.

Substitute Rory McKenzie then gave the hosts the lead in the third minute of stoppage time, lashing home after Gary Mackay-Steven’s cross fell invitingly for him inside the box.

But two minutes later, Owen Beck’s corner landed on the head of Shaughnessy who scored a dramatic leveller to ensure the Scottish Premiership match ended in a draw.

Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes had opted to just make one change following his side’s 1-0 win at St Mirren in midweek, with Wright starting in place of Corrie Ndaba.

Dundee boss Tony Docherty made three changes following his side’s 3-0 defeat to Celtic on Boxing Day, with Josh Mulligan, Mohamad Sylla and Ryan Howley coming into the starting line up.

Killie were fastest out of the traps and they came close in the fourth minute as Kyle Vassell latched on to a flick-on but he could only drill straight at Dundee goalkeeper Trevor Carson.

Dundee’s first effort came in the 17th minute when Jordan McGhee headed well over, but the away side grew into the game and began to dominate possession.

McCowan had been seeing a lot of the ball, coming in off the left wing, and it was the midfielder who broke the deadlock in the 35th minute.

Receiving a pass 25 yards out, McCowan showed composure to work a yard of space before curling a precise shot beyond Will Dennis into the bottom corner of the goal.

It was Dundee who continued to look the more likely to score and Dennis had to be alert to dive at the feet of Scott Tiffoney, who bore down on goal as the score remained 1-0 at the break.

Dundee almost doubled their lead shortly after the break as the impressive McCowan fired low across the box but Amadou Bakayoko was unable to get on the end of it.

The hosts were then inches away from a leveller on the hour mark as Wright headed against the outside of the post from a corner.

Kilmarnock continued to push and Dundee keeper Carson had to come out smartly to block Vassell’s close-range attempt.

The hosts had been the better side as the match edged towards a conclusion and with five minutes to go they managed to get back on level terms.

Dundee keeper Carson was unable to claim a corner cleanly and as the ball popped up in the air it was met by the head of Wright who nodded home to make it 1-1.

The visitors’ lead was very nearly restored just seconds later, however, as the lively Beck jinked forward before striking the crossbar with a powerful right-footed attempt from the edge of the area.

Kilmarnock then thought they had won it deep into added time as McKenzie lashed home to send the home fans wild.

But their celebrations were to be short-lived, as Dundee captain Shaughnessy headed home from the last move of the match.

Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes praised his players’ battling qualities after a Marley Watkins goal sealed a 1-0 cinch Premiership win at St Mirren.

The Ayrshire side moved four points clear of their vanquished opponents after keeping a clean sheet for a fourth-successive away game.

And McInnes said: “We wanted ball carriers and thankfully we had a brilliant passage of play for the goal. We had a few boys on empty at the end with the heavy pitch. It probably took a lot out of us.

“We’ve got 30 points and four clean sheets in a row on the road when our away form was so bad last season. I think there’s a confidence and trust now to come to different places.

“The four clean sheets in a row is the first time we’ve done that in a long time. The fans helped us, it felt like a proper cup tie even though it was a league game.”

Killie’s large travelling support sang about their team qualifying for Europe next season but McInnes was setting his sights on making sure of a top-six place first.

He added: “I think it’s great for the fans to think about that but for us, we’ve got a target for ourselves at junctions which will hopefully let us fight for the top six.

“I want us to play like a top-six side, carry ourselves and behave like a top-six team. And if we can hang about there as long as possible, then who knows. I want us to keep our shoulder to the wheel and keep churning out wins.”

St Mirren boss Stephen Robinson was disappointed as his team’s recent struggles continued and admitted they need a change of luck quickly to try to turn things around.

He said: “Everything is going against us at this moment in time. When you’re not scoring or you make an error, we get punished.

“We’ve not become a bad team but sometimes when luck isn’t with you it goes against you. I don’t think the belief has gone because you don’t dominate the ball like we did.

“I’ve not lost belief in the boys. We just need someone to step up to score and our movement can be better in the box. It’s up to me to sort that out.

“We’re getting good performances within the team. I take the blame as I signed the players but we’re just not having the rub of the green. The harder you work, the luckier you get.”

Kilmarnock strengthened their grip on fourth place in the cinch Premiership as Marley Watkins’ goal sealed a 1-0 win away to St Mirren.

The first-half strike helped extend Derek McInnes’ side’s recent good run of form to four wins and a draw from their last five games.

In contrast, St Mirren are in the midst of a slump that has seen them win just once in seven games, Stephen Robinson’s men a shadow of the side that started the season in sparkling form.

Robinson made two changes from Saints’ weekend defeat to Hearts. In came James Bolton and Toyosi Olusunya, replacing Thierry Small and Alex Greive.

For Kilmarnock there was just once change following their win over St Johnstone, with Matty Kennedy replacing Liam Polworth.

The hosts had the first real chance of the game as Richard Taylor fizzed in a long-range effort that Will Dennis did well to hold onto.

St Mirren had the ball in the net after 14 minutes when Jonah Ayunga bundled it in after Dennis had saved Olusunya’s effort only for it to be chalked out for offside.

Killie took a while to get going and from one promising attack, Danny Armstrong swept his shot well off target.

It was the visitors, though, who went in front after 25 minutes. Kennedy played in Watkins and he finished well past Zach Hemming.

The home side responded with a low driven effort from Ayunga but it lacked the pace to trouble Dennis.

Kilmarnock were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position when Taylor brought down Armstrong and was booked. But Kennedy’s effort struck the defensive wall and trickled out for a corner.

At the other end, Dennis did well to repel Scott Tanser’s volley from just outside the box as St Mirren tried to get back into the contest.

After all the heavy rain earlier in the day, the surface was unsurprisingly slippery and Alex Gogic picked up a booking after losing his footing and inadvertently brought down Brad Lyons.

Greg Kiltie had the first chance of note in the second half but his looped effort was easily gathered by Dennis.

Robinson turned to his bench to try to gain some fresh impetus, sending on Mika Mandron and Conor McMenamin.

The Northern Ireland international nearly made an instant impact but his flashing effort flew across the face of goal with no takers in the middle.

Dennis then pulled off a brilliant save to tip Bolton’s header over the crossbar as St Mirren belatedly began to exert some pressure.

That was matched at the other end by a stunning Zach Hemming save to push away Rory McKenzie’s goal-bound volley as Killie racked up a precious away win.

Stuart Findlay believes an increasingly rounded Kilmarnock side will go into the cinch Premiership game against St Mirren on Wednesday night with growing confidence.

The 2-1 win over St Johnstone on Saturday thanks to first-half goals from 18-year-old midfielder David Watson and 33-year-old striker Marley Watkins – Saints substitute Nicky Clarke pulled a goal back in the second half – took Derek McInnes’s side into fourth place in the table, a point above the Buddies.

Killie are unbeaten in four matches and although their away league form this season has not been great – one win in nine – Findlay noted the side’s different qualities and the encouraging results so far.

The 28-year-old defender, on loan from Oxford, said:  “We’ve won big games this season and that stands us in good stead.

“However, it’s not about winning important matches – it’s about winning consistently.

“Obviously, we haven’t won every away game but we’ve won at Aberdeen and we haven’t been beaten in three of the others but that’s where the consistency comes in.

“We know that, on our day, we can take anyone in the league. We’ve shown that by beating Celtic twice and beating Rangers. We also gave Hearts a really tough game at Tynecastle and they’re the top three teams in the Premiership.

“So we don’t need to fear any opponent when we’re on our game. Our displays have mostly been good this season, although in certain games we’ve had to show different characteristics.

“For example, in the second half of the most recent win over Celtic it was all about our high-tempo press. We nullified them and then ran over the top of them.

“In the first half against St Johnstone on Saturday we showed our attacking prowess, which we don’t really get enough credit for.

“Then, when they came back into the game after the break we showed a real grittiness to hold on to the three points.

“You need different qualities in different games and if you’re going to have a successful season then you need all of those things put together for the team to click.”

Findlay held back from speaking directly about finishing high enough for a European spot.

The former Philadelphia Union player said: “It’s too early to look at what you want to do with this season. The manager has said we should be a top-six team and, if you are there, you’re in touch with the European places.

“This isn’t me saying that we’re not looking towards qualifying for it but the big thing for us has been to establish ourselves in the top half of the division which we’ve done so far.

“That’s the only way we can look at it but if things keep going our way and it starts to point in that direction we can review that towards the end of the season.”

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