Motherwell lost two goals and two men as they left Rugby Park with nothing but regrets on Saturday.
Playing their first match for 20 days, there appeared to be no ring rust among the ’Well players as they dominated the match, but somehow they failed to find the net.
And to round off a frustrating day, Fraser Kerr and Keith Lasley were red-carded near the end.
There was one change to the side who had beaten St Johnstone in the previous outing, with Stuart Carswell preferred to Bob McHugh to stiffen the midfield. January signing Kallum Higginbotham again had to be content with a place on the bench.
It was an unlcuky 13th minute for ’Well and STEVIE HAMMELL especially as the full back diverted Ross Barbour’s tame effort past a helpless Darren Randolph.
Lasley should have equalised as Kyle Letheren’s poor kick-out went straight to Nicky Law, but his low cross was slid over the bar by his onrushing captain.
Then Kilmarnock had striker William Gros to thank for keeping them ahead as he cleared off the line a remarkable three times in 10 minutes to deny Shaun Hutchinson twice and Simon Ramsden.
Top scorer Michael Higdon must have been wondering when a chance would fall to him, but when it did he could only head a Lasley cross wide. Then when Law slipped in Henrik Ojamaa he couldn’t find the target either.
It really was all Motherwell, but time and again they failed to finish off chance.
Lasley was the sinner again as Ojamaa did well to get to the byeline, but from six yards Lasley knocked the ball high and wide.
At half time Killie sent on Sammy Clingham for Barbour, but it made little difference to the game’s flow although ’Well chances were harder to come by.
Tom Hateley’s weak free kick from the edge of the box was about as much as Letheren had to deal with.
On 70 minutes Higginbotham was given his debut, replacing Carswell, but two minutes later the hosts scored again.
James Dayton crossed from the left and GROS proved he was equally effective at both ends as he rose unmarked to head past Randolph.
’Well boss Stuart McCall threw on McHugh, the catalyst for coming back from two down twice this season, but there was no hope of that happening again as frustration descended.
Nine minutes from time Kerr replaced Hateley, who limped off with a hamstring injury, but lasted just three minutes on the pitch before he was sent off for a rash swipe at Dayton.
Five minutes later he was joined in the dressing room by Lasley who was went packing for a wild lunge on Dayton from behind.
For the first time Killie were in control and should have made it 3-0 deep in stoppage time, but Danny Racchi hit the bar.
Kilmarnock: Letheren, Tesselaar (Racchi 69), Fowler, Gros, Dayton, Heffernan, Perez (Hay 63), Barbour (Clingan 47), Pascali, O’Hara, Sissoko. Not used: Jaakkola, O’Leary, Ibrahim, McKenzie.
Motherwell: Randolph, Hammell, Law, Hutchinson, Hateley (Kerr 81), Humphrey, Ojamaa, Higdon, Lasley, Ramsden (McHugh 73), Carswell (Higginbotham 70). Subs not used: Hollis, Daley, Francis-Angol, Cummins.
Referee: Steven McLean.