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Christian Doidge was the hero for 10-man Kilmarnock as they defeated Hearts 2-1 to earn a crucial three points in the cinch Premiership.

The striker who is on loan from Hibernian capitalised on an error from Zander Clark to put the hosts ahead on the stroke of half-time.

It completed a fantastic turnaround from Killie who fell behind to Lawrence Shankland’s early opener before levelling courtesy of Daniel Armstrong’s penalty.

Rory McKenzie was shown a red card on the hour mark, but Derek McInnes’ 10 men would see out a the remainder of the contest comfortably.

The result moves Kilmarnock six points clear of Dundee United at the foot of the table, while defeat for Hearts sees their advantage in third place cut to just one point.

Kilmarnock started brightly and should have taken the lead after six minutes when Joe Wright rose to meet Jordan Jones’ free-kick, but the defender failed to find the target from close range.

They were made to pay just 60 seconds later as Jeriel Dorsett carelessly lost possession and Shankland drove forward before unleashing a low effort beyond Sam Walker.

Killie were handed a great opportunity to draw level after 21 minutes when they were awarded a penalty.

Clark brought down Kyle Vassell after the Hearts keeper had failed to handle Liam Donnelly’s powerful strike and referee Euan Anderson had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

A lengthy VAR check followed but the decision would stand and Armstrong powered home the resulting spot-kick.

Buoyed by their equaliser, the home team began to control proceeding and Vassell came close to putting them ahead when his flicked header beat the Hearts keeper before landing on the top of the goal.

An error from Clark gifted Kilmarnock the lead on the stroke of half-time – the keeper misjudging Armstrong’s cross allowing Doidge to turn the ball into the gaping goal.

Ross Stewart replaced the injured Clark in goal after the break and Robbie Neilson also introduced Barrie McKay into the action with the hope of injecting some attacking spark into his side – though they would make a laboured start to the second half.

Their hopes of getting something out of the match received a boost on the hour mark though, as Kilmarnock captain McKenzie was shown a straight red card for a poorly timed lunge on Jorge Grant.

Shankland had an effort well held by Walker as Hearts searched for an equaliser, while at the other end Wright struck the side-netting after finding room at the back post.

The home players were furious when play was waved on after Stewart appeared to have handled outside of his area, though the keeper was spared any punishment after a brief VAR check.

With 10 minutes remaking Luke Chambers stung the palms of the Jam Tarts goalkeeper with a low drive as Killie looked to put the game beyond doubt.

Seven minutes of added time had the home supporters on the edge of their seats and they would erupt in delight as the referee sounded the full-time whistle.