Kilmarnock manager Angelo Alessio hopes their extra-time Betfred Cup win over Hamilton can signal a new start at Rugby Park.
Killie had suffered three successive defeats, including the humiliating Europa League exit to Welsh part-time outfit Connah’s Quay Nomads, at the start of Alessio’s spell in Scottish football.
But substitute Dom Thomas’ extra-time strike secured a 1-0 win to ease the pressure that had been building on Alessio as they booked their passage into the quarter-finals.
And Alessio, who succeeded new Scotland manager Steve Clarke at Rugby Park, believes their crucial win can kick-start their campaign.
Alessio said: “It’s important for the team, for everyone here because now we are more confident and, of course, we needed a solution and we created opportunities but we scored at the end of the game.
“I’m happy because it was important to win this game for the team. After three defeats it was very important to win.
“I think we deserved the win. It was an important win for me as manager because after three defeats it was difficult for me to explain every time.
“Today I am happy for the team. I think this can be a new start to the season because after three defeats now the team will have more confidence.
“We have to work and we have to improve a lot.”
The tie was settled in the 113th minute when Thomas squeezed the ball home at the far post to score his first goal of the campaign.
Hamilton head coach Brian Rice was disappointed to exit the competition but proud of his side’s display.
Rice said: “I didn’t see that coming. I don’t think they caused us too many problems.
“My young team put up a good spirited performance and I thought there was only one team going to win it. I thought we looked dangerous and that we’d snuffed out their threat, but it wasn’t to be.
“We came down here last year and got beat 5-0, got run over the top of. I’m sitting here proud as hell of my boys. We can look in the mirror and know we gave it a right go today.”