Steve Clarke hailed an “outstanding” performance from Jordan Jones after an influential performance in the 2-0 win over St Johnstone.
The Kilmarnock winger was a constant threat to the Saints defence, winning a penalty with a brilliant piece of skill and forcing Jason Kerr into a red-card challenge in a display full of running.
Kris Boyd converted the penalty before Lee Erwin – who Clarke was also delighted with – added his first league goal since August to cap a fine all-round performance from Killie which lifts them to fifth in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
However it was the performance of Jones that caught the eye, with the winger at the heart of the action throughout as Clarke’s side extended an unbeaten run at Rugby Park which now stretches back nine matches.
“He was outstanding,” Clarke enthused “Lee Erwin for me was outstanding (too).
“Jordan will get the headlines because he is quick and direct.
“He’s a good player and a player I would pay to watch because he’s exciting, commits defenders and tries to make things happen. He’s been good for us.”
The win sees Killie climb above Hearts into fifth place and continues a remarkable run under Clarke, with the club now boasting a record of 10 wins and five draws from their last 16 matches – but he remains grounded.
He said: “You know me, I won’t get too carried away! We are three more points away from the bottom.
“I said before, if we reach the split and we’re 16 points away from the play-off place, we can really attack the last five games, whichever half of the table we are in.”
For Saints boss Tommy Wright it was another bad night as his side continued a miserable run of form which sees them sliding further towards relegation trouble.
Although he thought his side competed evenly early on, Wright accepted they contributed to their own downfall in what was a poor performance.
“The first goal killed us and obviously we made a mistake, gave the ball away cheaply and went down to 10 men,” he said.
“It was the same old story, we always help the opposition in terms of scoring goals and we did that again today, even with the second goal we got done too easily.”
Wright was involved in a brief exchange of words with Jones after the winger was fouled on the near touchline, but Wright brushed it off and instead praised the performance of the Northern Ireland man.
“He’s a good player and having a great season,” he said.