Dundee United remain in seventh spot after having to make do with a share of the Premiership spoils at Kilmarnock.
The Terrors had taken the lead through Adrian Sporle’s deflected effort on 18 minutes, one they held until Zech Medley equalised for Killie from a corner on 64 minutes.
With sixth-placed St Mirren beating Ross County, United lost ground in the race for the top six, with the Tangerines now four points behind the Buddies with just two games to go until the split.
United showed two changes from last weekend’s 4-1 defeat at Rangers with Sporle and Marc McNulty coming in for Nicky Clark and Louis Appere.
With the first opening of the match on three minutes, McNulty slipped in strike partner Lawrence Shankland, who progressed inside the 18-yard box.
The Scotland star’s low shot evaded Colin Doyle in the Killie goal before striking the near post on its way behind.
Greg Kiltie and Rory McKenzie, sat in behind Northern Irish hitman Kyle Lafferty, were looking increasingly-dangerous as the game crossed the 10-minute mark.
The dynamic attacking duo were constantly on the lookout for the big striker as United’s centre-halves, Ryan Edwards and Mark Reynolds, were kept busy.
There was nothing the defence could do on 17 minutes, though, as McNulty’s misplaced backpass went straight to Lafferty, who sent a magnificent curled effort crashing off Benjamin Siegrist’s crossbar.
It was a huge let-off for the Terrors but they were quick to strike back and make their breakaway count.
Sporle gives United the lead but checks out early
Just one minute later, Sporle picked up possession on the left edge of the Killie box after being fed by Ian Harkes.
The Argentine wide man chopped inside and fired an effort with his weaker right foot, and with the aid of a deflection, beyond a helpless Doyle for 1-0.
It was the 25-year-old’s third goal of the season and his second in as many starts.
Alan Power’s deflected dig was comfortable for Siegrist to deal with on 21 minutes as the Ayrshire side looked to hit back on home turf.
Sadly, much like after opening the scoring in the 3-0 win against Livingston a fortnight ago, goalscorer Sporle had to come off early, with the Argentine limping badly.
Louis Appere replaced the winger on 28 minutes.
Siegrist made a huge double save on 35 minutes to keep United in front, first stooping low to palm away a Lafferty free-kick and then quickly reacting to Mitch Pinnock’s follow-up effort from close range.
Shortly after, Kiltie went down inside the area under the close attentions of Reynolds and was booked for simulation by referee David Munro.
On the stroke of half time, Appere saw his snapshot diverted behind for a corner as United went in at the break a goal to the good.
Killie onslaught pays off as Medley equalises
Six minutes into the second period, Siegrist made a stunning save down to his right from a ferocious Medley volley to keep the Terrors in front.
Whistler Munro was increasingly losing his grip on the contest as the second 45 wore on, with the match becoming feisty and full of niggly fouls.
Former Killie man Mark Connolly made his return to the side after a family bereavement, replacing Jeando Fuchs on 55 minutes as United switched to a 3-5-2.
Appere fired a speculative effort wide as the game approached the hour mark and the Tangerines had to go backs against the wall to defend the Killie onslaught.
They didn’t hold firm for long, though, as the hosts got back into it on 64 minutes with Medley turning home Kiltie’s corner inside the six-yard box, connecting with a Lafferty flick on.
Substitute Nicke Kabamba had a glorious opportunity to put Killie in front with 20 minutes to go but he failed to latch on to Kiltie’s floated cross to the back post.
Killie were convinced Connolly should’ve been sent off for a last-man foul on Kabamba on 71 minutes but Edwards was clearly in position to cover behind him.
In the end, the Irish defender was shown yellow.
The hosts thought they had taken the lead moments later, as Lafferty rifled high into the roof of the net from close range, but the referee judged there to be a foul on United No 1 Siegrist in the build up from Kirk Broadfoot.
Doyle denied Shankland on the break with 12 minutes remaining, stooping low to clutch at his drive across goal.
With just two minutes remaining, Jamie Robson – marauding down the left – picked out McNulty in the box, with the on-loan Reading man’s shot forcing a smart save out of Doyle.
Both sides pushed for a winner, with Shankland having the best chance at the death as he failed to dink over Doyle at close range.
However, it ended honours even in Ayrshire, with a point apiece not the result either were hoping for as second-bottom Kilmarnock remain deep in relegation trouble and United odds-against to make the top six now.
Kilmarnock (4-2-3-1): Doyle (GK); Millen, Broadfoot, Medley, Haunstrup; Power, Dicker (C); McKenzie (Burke 61), Kiltie, Pinnock (Kabamba 61); Lafferty.
Subs not used: Rogers (GK), McGowan, Ibsen Rossi, Waters, Mulumbu, Tshibola and Oakley.
Dundee United (4-2-3-1): Siegrist (GK), L Smith, Edwards, Reynolds (C), Robson; Butchers, Fuchs (Connolly 55); Harkes, McNulty, Sporle (Appere 28 (Clark 83)); Shankland.
Subs not used: Deniz (GK), Hoti, Chalmers, Bolton, Neilson and K Smith.
Referee: David Munro.