GARY TEALE has warned that St Mirren must mind the gap when they face Hearts at Tynecastle tomorrow.
A run of five defeats has left the Buddies just four points above backmarking Dundee who travel to Paisley on Saturday week for a potential early season relegation six-pointer.
The former Scotland star knows an emotional Tynecastle will be filled to capacity as the Gorgie faithful dig deep to help find the extra finance to steer their club away from financial oblivion.
But with Saints having already beaten Hearts at Greenhill Road back in September, Teale is confident his side can halt their form dip.
He said: "We know we must stop the run we are on and that has to happen at Tynecastle.
"Dundee have picked up a good bit in recent weeks having beaten Hearts and drawn at Motherwell and closed the gap on ourselves to just four points
"We have them coming to Paisley on Saturday week, so we must do everything we can to try and preserve that gap and that puts extra onus on our need to take something from Tynecastle tomorrow.
"But while that is all important what is first and foremost is that we get the result we need."
Saints have conceded 14 goals in their five- game losing streak, but Teale says there is no way the Paisley men will compromise their all-embracing football philosophy.
He said: "Despite the losses our performances have not been that bad.
"For example, last week against Aberdeen we went down 4-1, but I would challenge anyone who was at that game to say that scoreline was a true reflection of the match.
"But when you are on the type of run we are on at the moment, things just don't go for you and we are not getting many breaks. But that does not mean we'll compromise the way we play.
"Our strengths remain in a passing game and we believe we can turn things around by remaining true to that."
Teale also believes the return of skipper Jim Goodwin from suspension and experienced pros like himself and Stevie Thompson can play a key part in a reversal of fortunes.
He said: "The older pros have to stand up and be counted. It is about talking to the younger lads and encouraging them.
"Bu the big thing for us going into this game is that we beat Hearts the last time we played them which ended a long run for us without a win against them.
"We know there will be a lot of emotion around Tynecastle, but it is up to us to stay focused and concentrated and if we can do that and cut out the errors we can get the result we need."