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Derek McInnes has leaders Arbroath in sight for Kilmarnock after beating Caley Thistle

Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes.
Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes.

Derek McInnes reckons his Kilmarnock side must build upon their weekend win over Caley Thistle by going for another three points at Championship leaders Arbroath on Friday night.

A 1-0 victory for Killie against Inverness on Saturday – thanks to an early Kyle Lafferty goal – took McInnes’ side into second spot, two points above ICT.

Now, on BBC Scotland’s live showdown on Friday, they have the chance to hit first place if they leave Gayfield as the victors.

The Caley Jags are the only league side to win at Arbroath’s home this season, with a 1-0 victory on the first day of the season on July 31.

Kilmarnock, under previous manager Tommy Wright, could not get the better of their main promotion rivals.

Twice they were defeated 1-0 by Inverness, they lost home and away to Raith Rovers, picked up only a point against Arbroath and it’s one win apiece and a draw in their three meetings with Partick Thistle.

Gayfield game opportunity for Killie

Former Dons boss McInnes, who took the hotseat at Rugby Park in the New Year, is determined to see Kilmarnock deal with their rivals to crank up their bid for the title.

He said of Friday’s trip to Angus: “It’s a good game for us. When you play teams around about you, it has been aimed at us previously we’ve not won these types of games.

Arbroath manager Dick Campbell.

“We need to try and go and win another one of those types of games against the team at the top of the league.

“Arbroath have been getting loads of plaudits this season and rightly so. We are very much aware of their strengths and capabilities, but I see it as an opportunity for us to go in against them and hopefully take that opportunity on Friday. I’m looking forward to it.”

Learning from leading 1-0 – McInnes

McInnes was delighted by the way his team held their nerves and more when in front against Caley Thistle to hold on for victory.

He added: “I said when we went 1-0 up at Partick a couple of weeks ago and when we lost a late equaliser it felt like a defeat. I felt we had to be better when we go 1-0 up.

“I felt we were better in some aspects of that, but I’m still looking for us to be better. The priority was winning the game and our players showed a real willingness, togetherness and resolve.

“I don’t think Zach (Hemming) had a real save to make in the game. There were a few crosses and things scrambling around the box, but we should have picked Inverness off.

“We had opportunities to go and do that. We were a bit wasteful with that.

“I think we’re a team not used to winning at home. Sometimes, you can get tension coming from the fans, but on Saturday, the fans were remarkable.

Shane Sutherland clips the ball over Arbroath keeper Derek Gaston to seal a 1-0 Inverness win on July 31.

“They really got behind the team, helped the team and were proper home support and, for that, I am really grateful. I think they see the willingness of the team and there is an energy to go out and win the game.”

Maximum effort against Caley Jags

McInnes was delighted to see his new players step up and be counted to see off the Highlanders.

He said: “We had some really good moments in the first half and we scored a brilliant goal.

“But we would like to have a bit more elements of control in these types of games, but ultimately, it’s about winning. Hopefully, again when 1-0 up and playing at home, we can be better again.

“We’re learning as we go along, but the players are giving everything. It was 10 out of 10 for effort and as long as they are doing that, we can use that to work to improve.”

Caley Thistle will aim to return to winning ways when they host Morton on Saturday.

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