DANNY LENNON wondered aloud whether the winter break was coming at the wrong time for his side as St Mirren rounded off 2012 with a thrilling 4-3 victory away to Dundee United.
The Paisley side have now lost just once in their last eight games and earned seven points from nine over the festive period. They now take on Kilmarnock at home on Wednesday before the Scottish Premier League shuts down for a fortnight.
"It's a fantastic three points for us and a terrific way to finish 2012," said the St Mirren manager. "The key to our success was the continuous workrate from the players, individually and collectively. We're just going to ask the boys for one last push before a very welcome break and look for the same commitment, work ethic and quality.
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"We've got players right on song at this minute so I'm not sure if the break's coming at the right time for us or not. What the players have given us over this important festive period has been nothing short of outstanding."
Lennon also confirmed that Paul Dummett, who scored St Mirren's opening goal yesterday, will remain on loan from Newcastle United until after the Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final on January 27, and will be joined in Paisley by Conor Newton, another Newcastle youth prospect, who has agreed to sign on loan until the end of the season. The midfielder could make his debut against Kilmarnock on January 2.
St Mirren's fourth goal was scored by David van Zanten. The Irishman was in line to face an embarrassing forfeit involving singing in a mankini at St Mirren Park if he failed to score this season so he was a relieved man to see his shot creep in.
"It was the first thing I thought about when the goal went in," he admitted. "It's a big relief. It probably would have been a good laugh if it happened but I'm happy that I don't have to do it. I'm delighted with three points and a big, big result for us."
Paul Hegarty, the Dundee United assistant manager, was left to rue another home match without a victory. The Tannadice club have not won in front of their own fans since August.
"It's very disappointing," said Hegarty. "To score three goals at home and come away with nothing is hard to take. But some of the goals we lost were poor by our standards.
"It cost us in the end and we've had too many games like that. We can't explain it. We have to try and rectify it."