Stephen Robinson hailed his “biggest achievement” and admitted there would be no mixed emotions as his St Mirren team sealed their cinch Premiership top-six place with a 2-0 home loss to Kilmarnock.
Goals from Liam Donnelly and Christian Doidge handed Saints just a fourth home league defeat of an otherwise-impressive campaign.
Dundee United’s win over Livingston, however, ensured the Paisley side would be playing in the top half of the Premiership table after the split.
And Robinson – whose side had Thierry Small sent off for two bookings in quick succession – felt that was all that mattered as he savoured what he considered to be the greatest moment of his managerial career.
He said: “For me it’s my biggest achievement.
“I’ve got to cup finals, worked at the European Championship and got into the last 16. But this has been the toughest challenge of my career.
“I won’t be taking anything away from this group of players. They’ve worked under difficult circumstances.
“The club has been stripped right back down to the bare bones and now we are trying to build it up again. So you won’t have any negativity from me. It’s been a terrific 33 games.
“That’s as poor as we’ve played in the 33 games but obviously the other 32 must have been very, very good.”
Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes praised his players after sealing their first away win in the league for 13 months.
It leaves the Rugby Park side still in the relegation play-off berth heading into the post-split fixtures but they are four points ahead of bottom side Ross County.
He said: “It was a big performance and it was needed.
“St Mirren have been brilliant this season and we knew there was a lot on for them today.
“But we stressed to our team that it was important we went into the split on the back of a strong performance, hopefully a winning performance and a clean sheet performance – which we got.
“I’m gutted it’s taken us so long to win away from home but if you’re going to start winning, it’s good to start now going into these post-split games.
“Getting a job done is really rewarding. We wanted to do that today, not skulking away from here on the back of another away defeat.
“Everyone of a Killie persuasion will have a spring in their step now and it’s important that we look after the club by maintaining our Premiership status.
“Results like today do us no harm but there’s so much work to do.”
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