Kilmarnock earn morale-boosting draw at Dundee
Kilmarnock started their play-off preparations with a decent 1-1 draw with Dundee at Dens Park.
The visitors looked like they would struggle to stay with the Dark Blues at times during the first half but all Paul Hartley's men had to show was Rory Loy's headed opener.
And Killie got their reward for a much improved second-half display when Conrad Balatoni nodded home the equaliser.
Lee Clark's Ayrshire outfit now have one final Ladbrokes Premiership fixture to fulfil against Dundee United on Saturday before they are forced to battle for their top-flight spot against either Falkirk or Hibs.
As for Dundee, they now take on Inverness on the final day of the season to decide who finishes in seventh place.
Hartley handed a full debut to 19-year-old midfielder Calvin Colqhoun while Killie boss Clark chose not to risk either Rory McKenzie or Kallum Higginbotham, with both men just one yellow card away from a potential play-off suspension.
But it was Dundee's Greg Stewart who pulled the strings from the off.
The 26-year-old has had another season to indicate that he is destined for a bigger stage than Dens Park and a tight angle did not stop him aiming for goal as he lined up an early free-kick tight on the by-line.
Jamie MacDonald was alert to block with his feet though.
But the Dens side got the breakthrough they were looking for after 18 minutes.
Killie had been pinned back for most of the opening exchanges but coped well enough with Dundee's deliveries from the flanks
But the visitors switched off when Nick Ross swung the ball in from deeper territory and it cost them the opener as Loy looped a header over MacDonald from 15 yards out.
The Rugby Park side could have found themselves level just after the half-hour mark - but they had nothing to do with it
Ross aimed a pass-back at Scott Bain but left the keeper scrambling when he overcooked his kick
Blushes were spared though as Bain made it back in time to clear.
But Killie had MacDonald to thank for not being further behind at the interval as he produced a pair of one-on-one blocks to deny Loy and then Kane Hemmings.
The importance of those saves became apparent 10 minutes into the second period when Killie levelled.
Craig Slater - on for the ineffective Julien Faubert at the break - hung a high free-kick into the box and it was with a rather simple header that Balatoni beat the stock-still Bain.
There were claims for a Dundee penalty when MacDonald collided with Ross but referee Don Robertson was not convinced.
Dark Blues substitute Arturo was then denied by a Balatoni challenge just as he set himself to shoot, while Loy was again foiled by MacDonald's reactions after pouncing on a loose ball 10 minutes from the end.
Source : PA