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Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes praised his players’ battling qualities after a Marley Watkins goal sealed a 1-0 cinch Premiership win at St Mirren.

The Ayrshire side moved four points clear of their vanquished opponents after keeping a clean sheet for a fourth-successive away game.

And McInnes said: “We wanted ball carriers and thankfully we had a brilliant passage of play for the goal. We had a few boys on empty at the end with the heavy pitch. It probably took a lot out of us.

“We’ve got 30 points and four clean sheets in a row on the road when our away form was so bad last season. I think there’s a confidence and trust now to come to different places.

“The four clean sheets in a row is the first time we’ve done that in a long time. The fans helped us, it felt like a proper cup tie even though it was a league game.”

Killie’s large travelling support sang about their team qualifying for Europe next season but McInnes was setting his sights on making sure of a top-six place first.

He added: “I think it’s great for the fans to think about that but for us, we’ve got a target for ourselves at junctions which will hopefully let us fight for the top six.

“I want us to play like a top-six side, carry ourselves and behave like a top-six team. And if we can hang about there as long as possible, then who knows. I want us to keep our shoulder to the wheel and keep churning out wins.”

St Mirren boss Stephen Robinson was disappointed as his team’s recent struggles continued and admitted they need a change of luck quickly to try to turn things around.

He said: “Everything is going against us at this moment in time. When you’re not scoring or you make an error, we get punished.

“We’ve not become a bad team but sometimes when luck isn’t with you it goes against you. I don’t think the belief has gone because you don’t dominate the ball like we did.

“I’ve not lost belief in the boys. We just need someone to step up to score and our movement can be better in the box. It’s up to me to sort that out.

“We’re getting good performances within the team. I take the blame as I signed the players but we’re just not having the rub of the green. The harder you work, the luckier you get.”