Callum Davidson admitted he felt huge relief after St Johnstone won the play-off to remain in the Premiership.
The Perth side found their top flight status on the line after an 11th place finish meant a two-legged tie against Inverness Caledonian Thistle, with the loser playing in the Championship next season.
After drawing 2-2 at the Caledonian Stadium on Friday and with the first half of the return game in Perth goalless at half time, St Johnstone scored four times without reply to stay up.
Stevie May opened the scoring after coming off the bench before Cammy McPherson’s effort from outside the box was deflected past Mark Ridgers. Callum Hendry and Shaun Rooney then scored near identical chipped finishes in the closing minutes.
St Johnstone manager Davidson said the fight against relegation had been draining but he was delighted with the outcome.
“The overall emotion is relief,” he said. “It’s been a really tough season.
“Mentally, it’s been a lot harder than last season.
I”’m really proud of the players and really proud of the staff and all the supporters. I think you saw tonight what we can do here if we all stick together.”
The struggle in the league this season followed a historic first season in charge for Davidson when he led the team to a League and Scottish Cup double. The contrast wasn’t lost on the manager, who said winning the battle to beat the drop, after losing key players and suffering a spate of injuries throughout the squad, was a huge achievement.
“For me, as a manager, it’s bigger than winning the two cups,” Davidson said.
“Last season was fun, it was really enjoyable. This season was mentally tough and you had to dig deep.
“I had to look at myself. There were certain times when I thought ‘What more can I do?’ and it’s a really difficult time as a player but we stuck together.
“We had a wee pact from January about what we were going to do. We knew we can only affect what we can affect and we basically stuck together. All the boys bought into it and finally we got there.
“I don’t normally celebrate goals but I thought at 3-0 ‘We can’t lose it from here’. It was a wee bit nervy tonight and I think you’ve got to give credit to Inverness.
“Their team spirit and attitude was phenomenal. They showed how they play under Billy Dodds and they’ll be strong next season.”
For us it’s just about staying in that league.
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