JACK Ross believes the top-of-the-table clash with Dundee United is the perfect way for his club to end 2017.

His St Mirren side were this time last year were bottom of the Championship and looking utterly doomed.

Ross hadn’t long taken over as manager from Alex Rae but there was no immediate improvement in terms of results and relegation seemed certain.

He needed to get his own players in, which he did in the January transfer window, and then he somehow not only dragged the Paisley club off the bottom of the table, they even escaped the relative lottery of a play-off.

The job Ross has done is quite remarkable.

Should they win in Paisley tonight, it would put down a marker to United and the rest as they would stretch their lead at the top to five points.

“I don’t think there is a better way for this club to end the year,” said Ross. “We are under the floodlights, it’s against Dundee United and so it’s a great game so us, and even greater if we win.

“I’ve said it often enough but all credit goes to the players. When we have lost, they have won the next game, when we were going through a spell of not playing so well, which we have come out of, they still won matches and picked up points.

“There has been a lot of excitement among the players, it’s not trepidation, about what is a huge game for both clubs. The players are smart enough to know it is just one match and there is an awful lot to go, but it’s a fantastic way to end what has been an incredible year.”

When last season ended, Ross straight away set his sights on promotion and publicly said so. It was a risky road to take.

True, his team were clearly far better than one which found itself in so much both but, come one, promotion?

“I have enough confidence in the players, myself and the way we work to believe we can go up,” said Ross. “It does add extra pressure to talk about winning the league, and this is a bloody difficult league, but that is where you want to be.

“We have scored 35 goals in 18 league games, which is pretty good going.

"That brings more expectation from the supporters, a lot more compared to a year ago, so you have to deal with that. There has been a sea-change at St Mirren and that is something I will never downplay.”