GAME on. That was the message from St Mirren manager Oran Kearney after his St Mirren side threw themselves a Premiership lifeline with a fraught and hard-fought victory over Hamilton, writes Graeme McGarry

A goal from Kyle McAllister with 15 minutes to play and an injury-time clincher from Kyle Magennis was enough to move the league’s second-bottom side to within a point of the 10-man visitors, with one game left to leapfrog them and out of the relegation play-off position.

It wasn’t pretty. Heck, at times, it barely even resembled football, but it was captivating nonetheless in the second half at any rate as St Mirren earned their lifeline. They will now visit already-relegated Dundee on Saturday with hope of pulling off a great escape, while Hamilton will have another chance to secure their own safety at home to St Johnstone. And for Kearney, that was all that mattered on a night when 6500 inside St Mirren Park rocked the ground to its foundations.

The Gazette: Kyle Magennis made the points safe with his second goal in two games Kyle Magennis made the points safe with his second goal in two games

“The crowd were brilliant and were so important,” Kearney said.

“The role they played was huge. To keep behind the players and not bring that edginess into the stadium was so important. There was patience from everybody and thankfully we got our rewards.

“The task was to get two wins. The second task now is not to lose sight of what we have to do on Saturday.

“If we can get those two wins this week then the rest will look after itself.”

As for Hamilton, Alex Gogic probably couldn’t be less popular with their fans after this game had he turned up in a Motherwell strip. The defender threw his teammates under the bus by pulling back Simeon Jackson as he spun and chased down a ball that would have seen him in on goal, leaving referee Willie Collum no option but to send him packing. His manager, Brian Rice, wasn’t exactly best pleased with his player either.

“The red card changed everything,” Rice said. “It was a stupid sending-off on our part and it gives them the opportunity to get on the front foot and put us under pressure and, to be fair to St Mirren, they did that.”

It was one of two critical moments in the match that cost Rice’s side, the other being a second-half miss when the game was goalless from substitute Mikel Miller when a square ball would have given Tony Andreu a tap-in that not only deflated Hamilton, but sparked St Mirren into life.

“The best players in the world square that ball, which is why they’re the best players in the world,” he said. “And maybe that’s why Mickel Miller’s at Hamilton. It’s not his fault and I’m not blaming anyone for anything.

“It’s all done and dusted now and I’ve told the players not to feel sorry for themselves, to get on the bus and start preparing for Saturday’s game. Nothing’s changed; we know what we need to do, and we didn’t achieve it tonight, so we need to do it this weekend.”

Hamilton had looked as though they would weather the St Mirren storm before McAllister intervened. He showed a lovely touch to bring a bouncing ball under control before miscuing his volley off Lennard Sowah, only for it to fall perfectly for him to finish low past Woods.

Accies were down to nine before the end as their final substitute Miller was forced off after landing awkwardly, and they were picked off in injury-time as Magennis dribbled into the box, wrong-footed Ziggy Gordon and calmly slotted into the bottom corner.

As the St Mirren fans partied and Kearney reflected on a good night’s work, he took the time to reaffirm his commitment to the club amid speculation linking him with former side Coleraine.

The Gazette: Oran Kearney was full of praise for the fans Oran Kearney was full of praise for the fans

“I think that is the bandit that is social media,” Kearney said. “My head has been 110 per cent on preparing for this game and again it will be exactly the same in preparing for Saturday’s game.

“I am here - I am loving it. I am hearing things, like families this and families that. From the word go I have made it known that my family are in Northern Ireland and I am here and I find a way to work with that.

“Coleraine is a club that is very close to my heart, of course, because I wouldn’t be sitting here now if it wasn’t for Coleraine.

“But in the same stretch I am here to do a job and I am very happy and I hope the club are happy with me.”

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