Kyle Lafferty dedicated his sensational winner to tragic fan Colin McCue – and revealed a letter from the lifelong supporter’s family fired Kilmarnock up for victory.
Lafferty sealed a crucial three points with a stunning overhead kick seven minutes from time having already slotted in an equalizer as KIllie avoided a third defeat on the spin to stay in the title hunt.
The Rugby Park hero celebrated by raising the black armband worn in memory of the dad who suffered a cardiac arrest outside the stadium shortly after Wednesday’s derby defeat to Ayr.
Lafferty presented Colin’s son Scott with his strip at full-time after the club had reached out to the grieving family.
And he revealed how Derek McInnes read his players an emotional letter penned by Colin’s loved ones family ahead of kick-off.
The Northern Irishman said: “We were told after the game on Wednesday what had happened. Obviously it affected us.
“We received a letter and the gaffer read it out before the game on Saturday.
“You could see in everyone’s eyes that we wanted to go out and put on a good performance and get the three points, so it was only right to dedicate it to Colin.
“I spoke to Scott after the game and I gave him my shirt. Obviously getting three points wo n’t heal his hurt from him but knowing that the lads on the pitch and in the stands were all behind him must help.
“He came here, we knew he was here and I think that’s why we put in a good fighting performance.”
Lafferty revealed the inspiration for his sensational overhead kick winner was served up on the head tennis court 24 hours earlier.
And he hopes his ace hit – which takes his tally to three in five outings since returning from Anorthosis Famagusta – has helped erase the messy nature of his departure following relegation last May.
The 34-year-old said: “I wouldn’t say it was turbulent. Obviously myself and the club couldn’t agree on something.
“I’ve said things that were maybe out of line and the club had their word too, it’s all over now though.
“When the club approached me in the transfer window we agreed on something that suited both parties.
“I am here to score goals, get points on the board and we want to end the season as champions.
“We were playing heady tennis on Friday at training and I managed to win a few points with overhead kicks during that, so none of my teammates were surprised to see me try it against Dunfermline.
“It’s something I’ve tried a few times over the years, but it’s never come off before.
“The last time I scored one I was about nine!
“It was probably one of my most important goals ever.”
That’s a big statement from a striker with 20 international goals to his credit and whose hat-trick sealed a dramatic title for Rangers a decade ago.
But should Killie overturn Arbroath’s two-point lead at the top, albeit having played a game more, then his double to down the Pars will rightly be seen as a pivotal moment.
Killie were feeling the heat from a frustrated support with Zach Hemming’s first half penalty save from Steven Lawless – his fourth of the season – the only reason they were level at the break.
Lawless made amends 14 minutes into the second half when he fired home Lewis McCann’s low cross to give Dunfermline the lead.
Lafferty leveled when he knocked home Blair Alston’s cutback eight minutes later.
But the big striker was keeping his best for last as, after Stephen McGinn’s cross was headed into the air, he produced an acrobatic finish into Jakub Stolarczyk’s bottom corner.
Pars goalscorer Lawless vowed to step up for the next penalty despite his spot kick pain.
He said: “The best players in the world miss penalties. I’ve still got a good record. It’s disappointing but I’ll be putting my name forward for the next one.
“There’s a squad here that once we have everything going in the right direction we will push up the table.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.