David Martindale was left to rue an injury to Sean Kelly as Livingston missed a penalty in Saturday’s goalless cinch Premiership draw with Kilmarnock.

The Premiership’s bottom side failed to win for an eighth-consecutive match but picked up their first point since the victory over Motherwell on October 7.

It could have been a better day for the Lions but Bruce Anderson was guilty of missing a second-half spot-kick.

Kelly is the team’s regular taker but had to be replaced at half-time after sustaining a hamstring problem.

Martindale said: “Sean came in at half-time and said he felt his hamstring – he would have taken the penalty.

“Bruce grabbed it but your the number nine at a football club, you should be wanting to take penalties.

“Sean had missed a couple previously but I think he’d scored his last three. Sean would 100 per cent have taken it.

“We get the opportunity from 12 yards and I’m disappointed. I spoke to wee Brucey and he’s gutted.

“The wee guy lives and breathes scoring goals. You have to be disappointed he’s not hit the target, if the keeper saves it you take your hat off.

“It really sums the game up.

“To be fair, wee Brucey missed his last penalty. Your number nine is on the park so crack on.

“When you’re going through periods that we’re going through at this point, it seems that everyone is going against you.”

Martindale’s side remain five points adrift at the foot of the table and the Livi manager admitted the missed penalty left a bitter taste after recent struggles.

He added: “I thought it had nil-nil written all over it, it was one of those games.

“The fans probably didn’t realise how strong the wind was. We found it difficult to get out in the first half. They bombarded our box and it was really difficult to get any distance on the ball.

“Fair play to the players because I thought they defended the 18-yard box well.

“It’s hard. I was sitting here last week and was probably a wee bit more positive in terms of the performance. I thought we were unlucky.

“But this week after the game in the changing room there is probably a bit more adversity because you think you had those three points in the bag from 12 yards.

“Albeit we’ve stopped the run of defeats, got a clean sheet and got a point.”

Meanwhile, Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes insisted Livingston defender Mikey Devlin should have seen red for a second-half challenge on Danny Armstrong.

Devlin was booked for the foul but McInnes feels VAR should have intervened.

He said: “It’s a terrible tackle. I don’t know why (referee) Willie (Collum) has not been asked to go to the screen.

“He (Armstrong) had to come off with the injury. It’s a scissors tackle, something we are continually told is to go out the game.

“No one wants to see red cards but it’s a terrible challenge. It’s a nasty challenge and for me it should have been a red card.

“He was labouring after it, he was hurt. If you see the tackle again, you’ll see why he was hurt.

“If Willie gives a red there, VAR isn’t getting involved to say it’s not a red. I think it is a red.”

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers admitted his side were too negative in their passing in the second half at Rugby Park after Kilmarnock came from behind to win 2-1.

Matt O’Riley netted from close range to earn Celtic a deserved half-time lead but Killie had missed two excellent chances and they created plenty more opportunities after the interval.

They were eventually rewarded when Nat Phillips converted Brad Lyons’ cross into his own net in the 75th minute and the home side took further confidence before Matty Kennedy finished off a counter-attack with three minutes left.

Rodgers said: “I thought in the first half we were very good. We played at a good speed and created opportunities. We could have maybe have been more than 1-0 up by half-time.

“But in the second half we never got started. You expect a wee bit of pressure for 10 or 15 minutes, which we weathered at set-pieces and corners. But we never passed the ball.

“We were under a bit more pressure, sure, but you have to be resistant to that pressure. We weren’t able to make passes to take us up the pitch and that was the biggest disappointment of the second half. We couldn’t sustain any attacking threat in the game.

“When you play Kilmarnock it’s quite a direct game so you have to be able to win the first, second and third balls. But we didn’t do that.”

Rodgers was angrier than he had ever been as a manager when his side trailed against St Johnstone at half-time seven days earlier before coming back to win. But he was more measured in his response after a first cinch Premiership defeat of the season.

“The players know themselves,” Rodgers said. “We spoke after the game about how this isn’t how we want to do.

“In the second half we played their game instead of playing our game. I thought we got rid of the ball in the second half instead of passing it. And there is a big difference.

“We ended up being too negative in our passing. If you play a team that’s pressing and right up against you there, you’ve got to pass the ball forward. Because that forward pass eliminates pressure. And we weren’t able, for some reason, to do that.”

Rodgers has now lost 10 domestic games over two spells as Celtic manager and four of them have been at Rugby Park.

“I thought the pitch was all right for an AstroTurf surface,” he said. “When you get rain, it makes it slick, and it was actually good, but in the British game you have to have that adaptability.”

Killie manager Derek McInnes had harsh words for his players at half-time in a bid to get them to the levels they showed when beating Celtic in the Viaplay Cup in August.

“I had to give the players a wee reminder of the team that we need to be, particularly at Rugby Park, the team we needed to be against Celtic,” he said.

“Celtic came and dominated the ball and dictated the play. They were almost playing with us really, with the ball. They were just kind of coaxing us into mistakes.

“Even when we got the ball we looked unsure of ourselves.

“We had to be braver, we had to take a step forward and I thought Stuart Findlay was immense at the back. We had to defend a lot of space behind us and with that comes that element of risk.

“We had big performances second half when it was the total reverse of the first. It was everything I wanted from my team.

“I thought we passed up too many opportunities before we did score and thankfully when we did get the goal you could just sniff the victory, you could feel it. More importantly my players felt it and thankfully we got the second goal that I felt we deserved.

“I’m delighted we managed to turn it round because coming from behind is always difficult when you play against a team like Celtic.”

Matty Kennedy scored a late winner as Kilmarnock inflicted a second defeat on Celtic this season.

The Hoops started in dominant fashion in Ayrshire as they looked to avenge their Viaplay Cup loss and Matt O’Riley gave them a 33rd-minute lead with his ninth goal of the season from close range.

However, Killie came very close either side of the goal and they were eventually rewarded for their improvement when Nat Phillips turned Brad Lyons’ cross into his own net in the 75th minute.

Danny Armstrong then slipped Kennedy through as Killie counter-attacked down the right-hand side and the winger’s effort went in off Joe Hart.

Brendan Rodgers had suffered his first domestic cup defeat as Celtic manager at Rugby Park in August and the latest loss on the artificial surface was the first cinch Premiership defeat of his second spell in charge. It leaves Celtic five points ahead of Rangers but with one more game played.

Phillips started after Cameron Carter-Vickers failed to shake off a hamstring concern, but Rodgers otherwise retained the team that began Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Hibernian. That meant starts for Tomoki Iwata, Mikey Johnston and Oh Hyeon-gyu.

Rodgers had told Johnston he had to “do more” following the midweek game. Johnston had a hand in the first goal and could have had an assist but for Oh’s poor finishing, however the winger’s delivery was erratic during his 70 minutes on the park.

Lyons and Liam Donnelly brushed off knocks to start for Killie, who were pinned into their defensive third for the first 10 minutes. O’Riley had two shots stopped, Callum McGregor’s low cross just evaded Johnston and Oh had a header saved.

Celtic continued to create chances. Oh volleyed over after Liam Scales’ ball over the top and the South Korean should have converted Johnston’s low cross before Luis Palma hit the post from a tight angle.

Killie should also have scored from their first chance. Lyons’ cross found Armstrong at the back post but the winger hit the junction of post and bar from six yards.

Celtic were ahead within a minute. McGregor took three players out the game when he turned on to his right foot 20 yards out and forced Will Dennis down to his left with a shot. The goalkeeper could only parry and O’Riley was on hand to convert the rebound.

The action continued as Celtic survived a double chance moments later. Hart got down well to deny Armstrong and Alistair Johnston threw himself at Corrie Ndaba’s follow-up to block what looked a certain goal.

The opening stages of the second half were as one-sided as the first but this time in the home team’s favour. Hart denied Ndaba and Robbie Deas headed just wide amid sustained aerial pressure before the Celtic goalkeeper got down to clutch Armstrong’s curling effort.

O’Riley and Palma threatened after Celtic counter-attacks as the incessant rain got heavier and Kilmarnock appeared to have lost their cutting edge but they took a major lift from the equaliser.

Stuart Findlay had an effort saved after another ball into the box and substitute Marley Watkins scooped just over from a better chance, before Kennedy found the net in the 87th minute.

Celtic brought on Kyogo Furuhashi and Dennis pulled off an excellent stop from the Japan striker 90 seconds after Kennedy’s goal.

The home fans howled with derision when the fourth official signalled there would be eight minutes of stoppage time but Killie comfortably saw them out.

Under-pressure Barry Robson said there was “no excuse” after his side suffered a 1-0 defeat to Kilmarnock in the cinch Premiership.

The Dons enjoyed the better of the play and had a Bojan Miovski first-half effort ruled out for offside, but it was Killie midfielder David Watson’s superb 20-yard strike in stoppage time that gave the visitors the points.

The Aberdeen fans made their frustration clear, with the final whistle met by a chorus of boos, and Robson understood the reaction after his side’s winless run was extended to six matches in all competitions.

“It wasn’t good enough in either box,” the Dons boss said. “We had a lot of possession without threatening too much. We need to be better in both boxes.

“Kilmarnock are a difficult team to play against and when we changed our system to open up our full-backs we got a bit of a spark, but if you’re not going to win then don’t lose – we needed to defend the goal better.

“There’s no excuse. We need to start picking up points.

“The fans are frustrated – they want their team up the league. I get that, I understand it, and have no problem with that.

“The only way we can do that is by winning games and we’re aiming to do that against Hearts at the weekend.”

Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes McInnes admitted that he thought his side’s chance to win had come and gone against his former club.

He said: “I thought we’d passed up the best chance of the game from Stuart Findlay’s first-half header. We lost the game against Hearts at the weekend to a mistake, a lack of concentration.

“It was good to win today with a real moment of quality. It’s probably that last wee bit that David needs to add to his game because he’s physical, and he was terrific throughout.

“It was a tight game today, and there wasn’t a lot in both boxes.

“We didn’t need to be brilliant tonight – we needed to be efficient. Every manager, every team needs a moment of quality and thankfully wee David did that.”

Pressure continued to mount on Aberdeen boss Barry Robson as his side suffered a late 1-0 home defeat to Kilmarnock in the cinch Premiership.

Midfielder David Watson curled home the only goal of the match in the second minute of stoppage time as Derek McInnes’ side got one over his former employers for the second time this term.

Defeat saw the Dons’ winless league run stretch to four matches and left them just three points clear of bottom side Livingston.

On a bitterly cold Pittodrie night, the Dons showed three changes from their weekend defeat to Hibernian, with Angus MacDonald, Jonny Hayes and Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes coming into the side. Kilmarnock stuck with the same team that were beaten by Hearts.

The game took a while to get warmed up and it was beyond the 15-minute mark when Daniel Armstrong’s through ball sent Marley Watkins clear of the Dons defence, only for the returning MacDonald to make up the ground to make a timely tackle.

The home side’s first chance fell to Duk, who perhaps could have done better with his close-range diving header from Jamie McGrath’s cross.

At the other end, a deflected Armstrong shot gave the same man the opportunity to swing in a corner which was met powerfully by the head of Liam Donnelly and Kelle Roos in the Dons goal produced a fine save to push the effort over the crossbar.

With the play going from end to end, Nicky Devlin will have been disappointed not to have connected with a tempting low Graeme Shinnie cross, while two minutes later Duk’s smart turn and cross saw Bojan Miovski fire wide.

The Dons had the ball in the net after 39 minutes, but VAR confirmed Miovski had edged offside before he headed home Leighton Clarkson’s free-kick.

If anything the second half would prove to be even more scrappy, though Robson’s men forced some good spells of pressure without ever really troubling Will Dennis in the Killie goal.

Stefan Gartenmann was being allowed room on the right to provide an overload, and he delivered a 56th-minute cross which McGrath would have hoped to do better with.

A few minutes later came a scramble in the area with blue and white striped shirts seemingly coming from everywhere to block shots from Miovski and McGrath.

Killie lost both Brad Lyons and Donnelly to injury and the resultant changes forced a change of formation with Liam Polworth and Matty Kennedy coming off the bench.

They were duly punished as Watson seized on a loose ball 20 yards out to curl a superb strike beyond a helpless Roos.

Derek Adams declared himself satisfied as his third spell as Ross County manager began with a goalless home draw against Kilmarnock.

County went a 10th game without victory but there were enough encouraging signs for Malky Mackay’s replacement.

The home side had the better chances and James Brown and Connor Randall had efforts cleared off the line in the first half.

Adams, who left Morecambe to return to County on Monday, said: “It was a great start for us. In the first period of the game we started from the centre and went forward and created some really good opportunities.

“Kilmarnock cleared two off the line and the players showed a willingness to get into the penalty area.

“We got a point, but I thought we had the best opportunities to win it.

“We changed things in the formation at the start of the game and at half-time as well to try to get the better of Kilmarnock and to deal with their threat as well, which I thought worked well.

“Over the piece, I have to be pleased with a clean sheet. On the other hand, we could maybe have done better with the chances we did create.”

Killie remain without a Premiership away win but the point kept them in the top six.

Manager Derek McInnes said: “We came here to win but the best players on the pitch were defenders, for both teams.

“I thought Ross County had the best of the first half, but we had the better moments probably in the second.

“I would think that both teams were searching for a bit more quality in the final bit.

“I thought we were worthy of our point, but I don’t think we did enough to win the game.”

Derek McInnes wants a bit more “bravado” from his Kilmarnock side to get their first cinch Premiership win of the season when they face Ross County on Saturday.

The Rugby Park club are sitting sixth in the league after 13 games but are yet to win an away league game this season in six attempts.

Killie go into the game against the Staggies – who will be under new boss Derek Adams for the first time – on the back of a 1-0 defeat by Hibernian at Easter Road before the international break and the Killie boss is looking for better results on the road.

McInnes said: “I can analyse it to death but I think the best gauge for me is level of performance. The level of performance against Hibs was good.

“We have not had a bad performance on the road this season but the results haven’t mirrored our home form.

“We have had a lot of good moments in games and penalty box entries – I think we are fourth in the league behind Hearts and the Old Firm for touches in the opposition box – and we get up the pitch well and move the ball well but at Easter Road we were just looking for that bit of quality.

“The stats show that we don’t get as many shots on target when we are away from home. It is something that can easily be addressed in terms of analysis but in terms of performance it is different to last year.

“Last year we were poor on the road a lot of times, we deserved exactly what we got particularly in the early part of the season.

“This season doesn’t feel the same but obviously we still need to get results on the road and if we get something close to our home form we will be alright.

“But I am not getting caught up with it. I don’t want it to become a thing and hopefully we can go and put in a performance like we did at Easter Road but try to show a bit more quality, try to show a bit more confidence in the final bit, have a bit more bravado about us rather than snatching at things and overthinking things.

“We are a bit more instinctive with our work at Rugby Park and I just feel we get a lot more shots on target when we are at home.

“It is something we have spoken about to the players but I am not getting too caught up in level of performance, they have been decent.”

Hibernian head coach Nick Montgomery described Martin Boyle as a “special player” after the forward provided a superb assist for Josh Campbell to score the only goal of the game against Kilmarnock.

The Australia international, who also had an earlier effort ruled out for offside, sped forward with a forceful run from the centre-circle before teeing up his team-mate from close range.

Campbell’s effort after 36 minutes proved to be decisive as Hibs collected their first cinch Premiership victory in seven outings to move within a point of sixth-placed Killie.

Montgomery said: “Martin is a special player and we have to protect him. Coming off in the semi-final (against Aberdeen) he took a little knock.

“We can’t take risks on a player of Martin’s stature at the club and it was the right decision to leave him on the bench at St Mirren.

“It freshened him up and he has had a disallowed goal, possible penalty call and a couple at the end where he just lost his footing.

“Martin is a big player for us and it’s important that we don’t take risks when it’s not necessary.”

Montgomery admitted he was still reluctant to allow Boyle to join up with Australia after picking up a knee issue in last weekend’s Viaplay Cup semi-final defeat to Aberdeen.

He added: “I’m not the doctor but I will go down and have that conversation. If he’s fit, no problem, he’ll be raring to go with the Socceroos.

“If not, he’ll probably stay. Getting through 90 minutes probably tells you he’ll be desperate to go, and he’s a big player for them as well.

“If it was up to me, he’d stay and we’d rest him! But they’ve got good medical staff there and hopefully it’s two weeks of him recovering for a few days, and getting some minutes.”

Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes admits Boyle’s moment of brilliance was the difference between the teams.

He said: “We should have done better in dealing with the initial move when Boyle got on the half turn.

“I saw when he was rested against St Mirren, I thought they should have let him run riot against Stevie’s (Robinson) team and left him on the bench against us.

“He’s the one that makes the difference and his part in the goal was decisive for them.

“The game was decided by a big moment with Boyle at the heart of it.

“But we are disappointed we didn’t manage to take anything from a game I felt we could have.

“We were just looking for those moments of quality.”

Josh Campbell scored the only goal of the game to see off St Johnstone and hand Hibernian head coach Nick Montgomery his first Premiership victory in seven games.

The midfielder slotted home from close range after Martin Boyle did brilliantly to tee up his team-mate.

The result moves the Easter Road club to within a point of sixth place Kilmarnock in the cinch Premiership.

Kilmarnock played well in patches but their long wait for a win in Leith was stretched to 10 games.

In a bright start to the match Jair Tavares went close with a solo effort from outside the area after four minutes.

The Portuguese winger got away from Joe Wright with a neat bit of skill but his curling effort flew just past the top corner.

Hibs forward Boyle then had the ball in the net moments later but the effort was ruled out for offside.

Kilmarnock gave as good as they got during the early exchanges and Liam Donnelly should have done better with a half-volley at the back post that he fired over from a Daniel Armstrong corner.

At the other end, Boyle raced clear after Donnelly had a square pass cut out but the Australia international lost his footing in the box as he was chased down by Stuart Findlay.

But the hosts were not to be denied in the 36th minute as Boyle provided a great assist for Campbell.

The pacey forward spun away in a congested centre circle and rode a cynical challenge from Donnelly that earned the midfielder a retrospective booking.

Boyle then flicked a pass to Campbell inside the area and the midfielder placed a low drive past Will Dennis.

Kilmarnock brought on Matty Kennedy for Donnelly at the break as they looked to get a foothold in the game.

But the visitors struggled to create any meaningful opportunities in a second half that lacked entertainment at both ends.

Tavares went close for Hibs again with an effort from outside the box but Dennis did brilliantly to push the shot round the post for a corner.

With Hibs having surrendered winning positions in their last two league games, tensions grew among the home fans as the match approached the closing stages.

Campbell was denied a second goal in the 86th minute when his stinging drive from outside the box was repelled by Dennis.

Hibs goalkeeper David Marshall then made a save at his near post to keep out Rory McKenzie.

St Johnstone caretaker manager Alec Cleland hailed the reaction of his squad as they defeated Kilmarnock 2-1 in the first match since manager Steven MacLean was sacked.

Nicky Clark scored a double in the first 10 minutes and, although Kyle Vassell pulled a goal back and Dara Costelloe was sent off for the hosts, they held on to secure their first league win at the 10th attempt.

Cleland said: “I’m absolutely delighted because we had to dig deep in the end. Let’s not underestimate Kilmarnock. They pegged us back but we got off to a really good start.

“The fans started getting behind us and we started to get confidence to actually go and play so that was good.

“It was an entertaining game. We had to hang on in the end but we got the three points.

“I was asked to come in and take it for a game and that’s happened. I got a great response from the players and the staff as well who have helped massively.

“It was a joint effort from everybody and the reaction we got off the players and the fans was important as well.

“The league position doesn’t lie but there’s lots of points to play for and we have got a good squad in there so hopefully that can give them the confidence.”

The Saints caretaker also singled out striker Clark for praise after his first goals since last November got the Perth side off to a flying start.

He added: “Nicky (Clark) getting the two goals was brilliant and I think you saw the lift that gave the fans as well.

“Over Nicky’s career, with the clubs he’s been at, you’ve seen that he gets you goals. He’s a threat in the box, he’s got good hold up play and the problem with Nicky was just his niggly injuries.

“Now hopefully the strikers can stay fit and we can get Nicky especially a run in the team.”

Killie boss Derek McInnes bemoaned his side’s slow start as they failed to recover from the two early Clark strikes as they slipped down to fifth in the league.

McInnes said: “We played the ultimate price for such a slow start which is so unusual and unlike us. We’ve had a lot of praise recently for our defensive play and our competitiveness.

“We’ve been really aggressive from the outset. We’ve started games really well and we didn’t.

“St Johnstone have been in a poor place of late. They didn’t need any encouragement. You don’t want to give them a leg up.

“We played the majority of the game in their half but St Johnstone showed good spirit. Particularly when they went down to 10 men.

“I don’t think that particularly helped us because it kept them hemmed in and they defended their box well.

“We kept trying to play through them rather than going around them.

“We didn’t work the goalkeeper enough and we paid the ultimate price for a poor start. From 10 minutes into the game, we were the better team but it doesn’t count for anything because St Johnstone got their goals in that period and they did enough to win the game.”

Managerless St Johnstone finally ended their wait for a first league win of the season as they secured a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Kilmarnock at McDiarmid Park.

In their first match since manager Steven MacLean lost his job, the Saints got off to a dream start with Nicky Clark grabbing a double in the first 10 minutes.

Kilmarnock grew into the game, though, and Kyle Vassell’s volley got them back into the game just after half-time.

The Perth side had to see out the last 15 minutes with 10 men after Dara Costelloe was red-carded for a late tackle on Matty Kennedy but they held on to move within three points of 11th-placed Livingston.

St Johnstone caretaker boss Alec Cleland had made three changes from the side who were hammered by St Mirren in Paisley on Saturday, with Ryan McGowan, Graham Carey and Chris Kane restored to the starting line-up. Meanwhile, Kilmarnock were unchanged from their impressive win over Aberdeen on Sunday.

The Saints had not won in their first nine matches in the cinch Premiership but they flew out of the traps, making the breakthrough after just 42 seconds.

Chris Kane’s initial shot from the edge of the box was saved by Will Dennis but Clark followed up to tap in and give the hosts the lead. The linesman initially chalked the strike off for offside before the decision was reversed following a VAR review.

It soon got even better for the Saints just six minutes later with Clark again on target. It was the simplest of goals, as Carey whipped in an in-swinging free-kick from the left wing that was well met by the head of striker Clark.

Kilmarnock were shell-shocked but they attempted to press forward and Kennedy fired their first effort of note narrowly wide from just outside the box in the 21st minute.

It was St Johnstone who remained on top however and they were inches away from adding a third in the 29th minute through an unlikely source. Captain Liam Gordon advanced forward and unleashed a long-range shot that skimmed the crossbar via a deflection.

The Saints were rampant and Kane was next to try his luck, juggling the ball from the resulting corner before acrobatically volleying onto the roof of the net.

The away side’s next chance didn’t come until the 40th minute as Vassell saw his volley from 10 yards well blocked and Stuart Findlay also came close with a header as a flurry of Kilmarnock corners ended the first half.

Killie had finished the half well and they carried this momentum into the second period, grabbing a lifeline on 47 minutes.

Kennedy delivered a precise cross from the left and Vassell volleyed home from around the penalty spot. Saints keeper Dimitar Mitov got a hand to it but he could only push the ball onto the post and into the net.

After an action-packed first half, the second period was a tighter affair but it was Killie sensing the chance at an equaliser as the game wore on.

Danny Armstrong’s deliveries were causing problems and Joe Wright should have done better with a free header that he steered wide from six yards out in the 71st minute.

St Johnstone’s attempts to see out the game then suffered a blow with 15 minutes remaining as Costelloe was sent off for a reckless late challenge on Kennedy as the winger advanced down the touchline.

Referee Calum Scott initially gave a yellow card before awarding a red after being sent to the screen by VAR Willie Collum.

It looked set up for a grandstand finish but, despite Kilmarnock throwing in a number of crosses, St Johnstone saw out the remainder of the game in relative comfort as they secured a much-needed first league win.

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson took responsibility after his side put in a laboured performance in a 2-0 defeat to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

The Dons failed to create anything of note as goals from Kyle Vassell and Marley Watkins either side of half-time gave Kilmarnock a deserved win.

Robson admitted he should have made more than the one alteration from the side who threw away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to PAOK on Thursday night in the Europa League.

He said: “We were poor today. In the first half, I didn’t think it was a very good game. They scored right before half-time, which was a bit of a sucker punch for us.

“But the biggest problem was probably my fault. I should have freshened the team up more from Thursday night.

“It was pretty evident that we looked leggy in the first half. We made a change at half-time and tried to change the shape, but it’s hard.

“That was on me. We needed some fresh legs. I think we would have seen a different team today.

“We’re not looking for excuses. We should come down here and try to win the game. We weren’t at our best at all. I should’ve changed it from the start and I think we’d have had a better outcome.”

Aberdeen remained in 10th position in the cinch Premiership and the Dons manager also admitted results have not been at the required level.

He added: “Our league form hasn’t been good enough. It’s been stop-start, with games being cancelled or moved.

“But if you want to play at this level, play in Europe and go far in cups, you need to deal with that.

“We’ve not dealt with it so far, so we need to start doing that better.

“We’ve got a massive game against Motherwell in midweek and if we can go and win at Motherwell, that can race us up the league and then there’s the chance to reach a final against Hibs next weekend.”

Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes was delighted with his side’s first clean sheet in nine games as they secured back to back wins in the league for the first time this season.

The home side moved up to fourth place in the league with the impressive victory.

McInnes said: “Everything is better than last season but we spoke at the team meeting about getting more clean sheets. Last week was a clean sheet display but we gave away a penalty.

“We had to deal with two key players missing in Corrie (Ndaba) and Joe (Wright) at the start of the second half. We’ve still got the clean sheet and my keeper hasn’t been too troubled.

“It was a good performance with strong individual performances. I don’t normally like singling boys out but Lewis Mayo was so good, especially with a three v three defensively which was a big test for us.

“It’s nice to follow up a strong display with another and to see us sitting where we are in the league.

“You don’t look at that too much until the first couple of rounds but I want to hang about there for as long as possible.”

Kilmarnock moved up to fourth in the cinch Premiership with a deserved 2-0 victory over a poor Aberdeen at Rugby Park.

Captain Kyle Vassell gave the home side the lead with a superbly taken goal on the stroke of half-time.

And Marley Watkins extended their lead just after the hour mark after a mistake by Dons defender Stefan Gartenmann.

Danny Armstrong also hit the crossbar for the impressive hosts while Aberdeen were toothless throughout as they remained in 10th.

Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes made just one change from the side who defeated Livingston last weekend, with Matty Kennedy coming to face his old club in place of Corrie Ndaba.

Aberdeen also made just one change to the side who agonisingly lost to PAOK in the Europa Conference League on Thursday, with Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes replacing Dante Polvara.

In a tight opening period it was the hosts who had the better of the chances, with Kennedy firing straight at Kelle Roos in the seventh minute with the first shot of the match.

Kilmarnock were very nearly in front 10 minutes later as Watkins picked out David Watson in the centre of the box but the midfielder’s shot was deflected over the bar from eight yards.

Kennedy also fired wastefully over in the 24th minute, with Aberdeen’s only chance of the first half coming in a long ball up the field that Duk almost tucked around an onrushing Will Dennis.

It had been a cagey half but the home side had been on top and they made the breakthrough just seconds before referee Kevin Clancy was set to blow his whistle.

A long ball from Dennis was flicked on by Armstrong to Vassell who cut inside Slobodan Rubezic and fired past Roos from just outside the box.

Aberdeen looked to respond after the break and Duk did well to get to the byline but Dennis clawed away to safety.

But it was Kilmarnock who continued to look more likely to add to their advantage. From a short free-kick, Kennedy unleashed a dipping effort that was tipped over by Roos, before Watson headed narrowly wide from the resulting corner.

The impressive Armstrong had been threatening all game and he was inches away from extending the hosts lead in the 62nd minute as he curled against the crossbar from the edge of the box.

Kilmarnock only had to wait two minutes to make it 2-0 though, as a dawdling Gartenmann saw his attempted clearance charged down by Watkins who calmly stroked the ball past Roos.

Aberdeen boss Barry Robson made four substitutions and he looked to get back into the game.

One of the replacements was Ester Sokler and he almost made an instant impact, heading narrowly wide when well found by Duk.

The visitors continued to probe but they never came close to threatening a comeback as Kilmarnock saw out the game comfortably to record a second consecutive home win.

Derek McInnes waxed lyrical about free agent Gary Mackay-Steven but insists training facilities is still all he is being offered at Kilmarnock at the moment.

The 33-year-old winger left Hearts in the summer and is continuing his return to full fitness at Rugby Park following a foot injury.

McInnes was boss of Mackay-Steven at Aberdeen and is still a fan, but does not think “there will be anything imminent” in terms of a potential deal.

“I am delighted to have him,” said the Killie manager.

“Obviously I worked with him before and he did well for me at Aberdeen, and he has shown some lovely touches and has fitted in well with the lads.

“It is good to have him here and if I can help play a part in getting him up to speed then great.

“We are quite open to see where it maybe leads us, but at the minute there is nothing more to report on.

“He got his move to Celtic on the back of some good performances for Dundee United and we managed to buy him at Aberdeen for £150,000 I think it was, and he got involved in the fringes of the international squad.

“We were really keen to keep him at the time, but he got an opportunity to go to the MLS with New York and the whole lifestyle and experience thing won the race.

“He had decent experience out there and came back to Hearts.

“He is a player who can make the difference in certain games and he has always shown that quality.

“He is also a very good finisher and I thought he was terrific for me at Aberdeen, I really enjoyed working with him and he is a good boy.

“So he is someone we have kept in touch with and are giving him a helping hand at this moment in time, but you never know where it can lead.

“I haven’t even had a conversation with the board or anything like that. They know he is training but if it progresses, we will all know soon enough.”

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers praised his players’ resolve in their 3-1 win over Kilmarnock.

Goals from Reo Hatate, Luis Palma and Greg Taylor sent the champions seven points clear at the top of the cinch Premiership and made David Watson’s strike – that made it 2-1 – no more than a consolation.

Rodgers admitted there had been a period of “grieving” following the midweek Champions League defeat to Lazio but credited the squad for not letting it affect them upon their return to league duty.

He said: “I’m really pleased with the performance today off the back of the game during the week.

“We could all touch the pain of that result because our display didn’t merit it.

“But it’s about how you respond. You grieve for 24 hours, I sensed it from everyone, the players and the supporters. But you need to show strength of mentality to get back to winning again.

“We showed that today because we switched back to perform well today. The players deserve credit for that.”

Hatate’s goal crowned an excellent individual performance and Rodgers revealed he had sat down with the Japan international earlier in the week to speak about his intensity levels.

He added: “This was the first game that Reo has come alive for me. He has to press the game and when he is at that level, then he is intense with the ball. He scored a brilliant goal and he was superb.

“I went through things with him the other day. If he wants to get to the highest level, there needs to be more intensity in his game. I took him through clips of his game, all without the ball.

“If you press the game well you will pass it well. But he took it on board, was very open and produced a fantastic performance today. That’s the level, you can’t switch the engine on and off.”

Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes felt that Celtic’s second goal, scored by Palma via a ricochet off Hatate, should have been ruled out.

He said: “Having seen the pictures for me it looks offside in the build-up when it bounces back off the Celtic player. So I’m disappointed with that as offside should be clear.

“When I saw it on the big screen I thought he was offside and when VAR were checking it I was expecting it to be chopped off.

“There might be better pictures in the VAR hub so any criticism of that at the minute is a wee bit contained as I’m just viewing it on the pictures that I’ve seen.

“I showed the referee the pictures that I’d seen. But they’re obviously dependent on the people in VAR looking at different angles.

“I saw an angle on my analyst’s laptop. Whether he’s a computer genius and has played around with the lines I don’t know. But it looked offside.”

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