A goal either side of half-time was enough to give Kilmarnock the points, as 10 man Motherwell fell to yet another home defeat and a dismal end to 2020.
With both teams suffering winless runs, amounting to 13 games between them, the respective managers were hoping to end their miserable run and the year on a high.
Goals from Greg Kiltie and Danny Whitehall had Kilmarnock boss Alex Dyer celebrating after five consecutive defeats, as Motherwell failed to build on the promise of their last two performances.
Mark O’Hara’s red card after 52 minutes didn’t help the Steelmen’s cause before the Ayrshire side took a two-goal lead and control of the game.
Motherwell made one change from the side which had to settle for a point at Tannadice. On the eve of being recalled by Wigan Athletic, Callum Lang moved to the bench, allowing Devante Cole to partner Tony Watt.
And it was nearly a dream start for the pair when, after three minutes, Watt worked his way along the dead ball line before driving the ball across the six-yard box. But with Cole and Liam Polworth waiting for a tap-in, the ball was cleared out of the goalmouth.
That proved to be a false dawn as the next thing of note came 20 minutes later when Trevor Carson, in his first home outing since his injury against Ross County in September, easily collected Rory McKenzie’s tame shot.
A minute later, Allan Campbell’s effort trundled beyond the Killie ‘keeper and rolled a foot wide of his right-hand post.
Despite having plenty of time in possession, Motherwell’s passing from the middle to front was often wasteful.
As the half-hour mark approached, a couple of crosses from Stephen O’Donnell and Polworth finally found team-mates in the box, but Cole and then Watt powered their headers over the crossbar.
With 40 minutes played neither ‘keeper had been bothered but that changed before the half-time whistle.
Danny Rogers was asked to make his first save when Campbell back-headed Declan Gallagher’s cross and the Killie ‘keeper reacted quickly to palm the ball away from under his crossbar.
A minute later the Rugby Park men went one better. The ball was worked down ‘Well’s right before being played across to Kiltie and his well-struck drive from 20 yards sped low past the diving Carson to open the scoring.
Stephen Robinson resisted the temptation to make any changes at the interval, But within a minute of the restart, the ‘Well boss had a scare when Carson landed heavily collecting a cross and required treatment to his left knee.
The ‘keeper gamely played on until the 64th minute, but before then Motherwell were a man down and two goals behind.
Alan Power’s high free-kick bounced in front of Mitchell Pinnock around 12 yards in front of goal, and as Mark O’Hara pulled the striker to the ground, referee Nick Walsh had no option to award Kilmarnock a penalty and show the Fir Park player a red card.
Whitehall gave Carson no chance from the spot, ramming the ball high into the net to make it 2-0 to the Ayrshire side and leave 10 man ‘Well just over 30 minutes to get something from the game.
With Ricki Lamie moving alongside Gallagher, the defensive gap was filled. But the home side’s problems remained at the other end of the pitch.
With 64 minutes on the clock, Carson eventually gave way to Aaron Chapman, with Lang and Jake Carroll also coming off the bench – the latter returning from a 10-month injury absence.
Before the outfield subs got a touch of the ball, Chapman dived to save from Aaron Tshibola, when the Killie midfield man really should have scored.
The ‘Well defence was again slack four minutes later when Kirk Broadfoot’s header bounced off the crossbar.
In an attempt to generate some action around Rogers’ goal, Jordan White replaced Cole with 20 minutes remaining.
In truth, though, Kilmarnock used the extra man to their advantage, and Motherwell never looked like extending their opponent’s run of defeats.