Dundee’s four-game unbeaten run came to a crashing halt against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
The Dark Blues gave as good as they got in the first half but the home side took control in the second 45 thanks to a scrappy counter from Kirk Broadfoot, a Genseric Kusunga own goal and then a third through former Dens favourite Greg Stewart.
Kenny Miller scored a consolation goal right at the end but the home side were well deserved winners on the day.
Dundee boss Jim McIntyre made just one change from the team that drew with Rangers at Dens on Sunday with Darren O’Dea returning from injury for the suspended Nathan Ralph who was red carded against Steven Gerrard’s side.
O’Dea took his usual position at the heart of the defence with Andy Boyle moving over to left-back in Ralph’s absence.
There was one further change shortly before kick-off on the bench with Roarie Deacon picking up an injury in the warm-up and he was replaced by Jack Lambert.
Considering the freezing conditions, it was no surprise this game was a slow burner to get going with players from both sides taking their time to find their feet – sometimes literally.
There were early chances for the home side’s Jordan Jones and Stewart before Miller had a great opportunity in the 19th minute but he steered his shot wide.
Eamonn Brophy then hit a 25-yard free-kick inches past Dark Blues keeper Jack Hamilton’s left-hand post.
On the half-hour mark Dundee had two great chances through Jesse Curran and Boyle but they were denied on both occasions by Killie keeper Daniel Bachmann.
Hamilton came to the rescue for Dundee in the 31st minute when he pulled off a wonderful stop after Stewart was played straight through on goal by Gary Dicker.
Shortly before the break, Killie had a big scare when home defender Stephen O’Donnell came close to scoring an own goal when he got a touch on a Miller cross with the ball looping up onto the roof of the net.
However, it was the home side who took the lead in the 54th minute. Stewart swung a corner in from the right and following an almighty scramble in the Dundee box, the ball was stabbed home from close range by Broadfoot.
Shortly after, Hamilton had to look lively to save another dangerous Brophy free-kick.
However, Killie did extend their advantage in the 67th minute when Brophy sent a dangerous cross in from the right with Kusunga turning the ball into his own net from six yards.
Clarke’s men looked to turn the screw even more with Stewart being denied by Hamilton and then Brophy firing wide when he should have hit the target.
The Dark Blues keeper came to the rescue once more to deny Jones as he arrowed in on goal but it seemed certain that the third would come and so it proved in the 79th minute when another defensive mistake allowed Chris Burke to tee up Stewart who swept the ball home past Hamilton.
The keeper then made another good save to stop Stewart netting his second.
There was a late consolation goal in the first minute of stoppage time as Miller stabbed home from close range past Bachmann.
Incredibly, Dundee then came close to adding a second when sub Adil Nabi’s shot was cleared off the line.