Craig Levein fell for Well fan prank before St Johnstone secured safety

The manager relived the final moments of St Johnstone's relegation fight.

Craig Levein fell for Motherwell fans’ prank before St Johnstone secured safety SNS Group

Craig Levein was an emotional wreck in the moments before learning that his spirited St Johnstone side had completed their cinch Premiership survival mission.

On a dramatic final day, Saints got the win they needed to give themselves a chance of leapfrogging Ross County and climbing out of the relegation play-off spot after first-half goals from Nicky Clark and Adama Sidibeh set them on course for a 2-1 triumph.

But even after the full-time whistle at Fir Park, the Perth men were made to sweat for a few minutes until the slightly later conclusion of County’s match against Aberdeen.

Levein admitted he feared County – who were ultimately held to a 2-2 draw by the 10-man Dons – had scored a last-gasp winner when mischievous Motherwell fans erupted into celebration.

“That was stressful,” said the 59-year-old. “I thought I was going to be carried out in a box, I’m not kidding!

“I have never had an experience of that elation and then going right through the floor when I thought they (County) had scored.

“The wait on the pitch was crazy because we had no idea what was happening.

“The Motherwell fans got me a belter, it was the best wind-up ever. They totally got me.

“I knew Aberdeen were down to 10 men and it was 2-2 so once they start cheering you think the worst.

“I thought that was it, we were going into the play-offs.

“I thought it for about a minute until someone told me it was a wind-up and the game was 2-2.”

Levein was proud of the way his team performed as they ensured a 16th successive season in the top flight despite having been five points adrift at the bottom when previous boss Steven MacLean was sacked at the end of October.

“We played well, we fought hard and showed a real team spirit,” he said.

“I felt that’s what got us over the line, we had boys coming off the pitch knackered because they put so much into it.

“It’s such a big thing for the club to remain in the top division because I don’t know what would have come with us going into the play-offs.

“Thankfully, we won’t find out.”

Motherwell – after striker Theo Bair saw a first-half penalty saved by Dimitar Mitov – pulled one back in stoppage time through substitute Moses Ebiye, but manager Stuart Kettlewell was frustrated with his team’s display.

He said: “It was a disappointing way to end the season, it really was. The two goals were so avoidable.

“It was a brilliant piece of quality from Graham Carey for their first but we got it wrong in the middle of the park. And the second was Keystone Cops from our point of view – we have to deal with it 100 times better than we did. Cheap goals have been our Achilles heel this season.

“I’m disappointed but the overriding thought, and trying to be as positive as I can, is that we didn’t find ourselves in the position where we were going into the last day needing results elsewhere to go our way. We did that (avoided relegation) with a bit to spare.”

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