CHRISTMAS came early for Danny Lennon and St Mirren last night.
Santa may not be due down the Paisley chimneys for another couple of days but the Buddies have reasons to be cheerful after a 2-1 win over Motherwell moved them eight points clear of Dundee at the bottom of the Scottish Premier League.
This victory will undoubtedly ease some of the pressure on the Saints after a disappointing few weeks.
They have tumble down the table and are perilously close to the top flight relegation zone.
For Well boss Stuart McCall, the Boxing Day clash with Aberdeen cannot come quick enough now as they look to regroup ahead of a shot at second place in the New Year after a first half Steven Thompson double condemned them to a Friday night football defeat.
With both sides eager to claim all three points for very different reasons and ensure the perfect start to the festive weekend, it was no surprise to see a positive approach from messrs Lennon and McCall.
It was the Buddies boss who should have been celebrating first on a chilly night at St Mirren Park.
However, his side were denied on 18 minutes as Keith Lasley found himself in the right place at the right time to block a Jim Goodwin effort following John McGinn's corner.
While there may have been a degree of good fortune in the Steelmen keeping the scores level, the same could not be said for St Mirren.
They had goalkeeper Craig Samson to thank for preventing them falling behind as he acrobatically tipped Shaun Hutchinson's back-post header onto the frame of the goal.
On 36 minutes, the Saints spurned another glorious opportunity to break the deadlock as Thompson collected a neat backheel from Lewis Guy but saw his shot tame effort blocked by Simon Ramsden as Motherwell escaped unscathed.
It didn't last long. Just minutes after passing up the best chance of the match, Thompson made a mends.
He turned in Jon Robertson's cross from the right flank to give the Buddies the lead.
The goal gave Lennon's side a real lift.
Then with just four minutes remaining of the half, they doubled their advantage.
It was Gary Teale who supplied the cross this time, with Thompson rising highest at the back post to nod across goal and into the far corner of the net.
Motherwell may have felt aggrieved at going into the interval two goals behind but the game should soon have been outwith their reach shortly after the restart, with Randolph coming to their rescue.
Guy broke down the left flank and after referee Iain Brines waved play on after a strong challenge from Hutchinson inside the area, the former Newcastle United youngster picked himself up quickly and found the onrushing McGinn.
However, Randolph kept his side in the match, saving well to deny the youngster what would surely have been the winner.
McCall threw on Bob McHugh and Zaine Francis-Angol in search of a way back into the match and the young striker duly delivered.
Just minutes after spurning a great chance when clear on goal, he blasted home Henrik Ojamaa's cross to give the Steelmen hope.
As the clock ticked down, their chances of a late leveller diminished, however, with St Mirren holding firm for a crucial victory.