SOMETIMES it's all about the timing.
With speculation mounting over his future, Danny Lennon chose the perfect moment to guide St Mirren to their first home victory of the year. It brought to an end a run of five successive defeats and had the effect of lifting them out of the relegation play-off place and up to ninth in the table.
The introduction of Gregg Wylde as a 77th-minute substitute could not have been better timed either. With Kilmarnock tiring, the pace of the former Rangers winger would prove pivotal in providing the cutting edge a stodgy match had lacked until that point. Within a minute, Wylde had created an assist for Conor Newton to put St Mirren in front.
He then made sure of the points with a terrific solo run and shot that crashed in off the far post. It was a short but impressive cameo and the relief among the home fans at full time was a clear sign of just how important his introduction had been.
"I'm absolutely delighted to get three fantastic points," manager Lennon said. "There was a lot of talking done this week by myself, my staff and my players and everyone wore their hearts on their sleeves. I've got to compliment wee Wyldey.
"From not being in the starting line-up he gives you the reaction every manager wants. He's certainly going to be a valuable member of our squad from now until the end of the season."
As the pressure eases on Lennon - for the time being at least - then it may be Allan Johnston's turn to feel a bit hot under the collar. This was a fifth successive match without a victory for Kilmarnock, the result ensuring they remain very much a part of what is likely to be a fraught battle to avoid the play-offs.
A section of the away support made their feelings about the manager clear, singing "you're out of your depth" but it could all have been different had a Kris Boyd shot found the net rather that hitting a post not long after St Mirren had gone in front.
"It's a disappointing result, although there wasn't much in the game at all," Johnston said. "In the second half it opened up and both teams had opportunities.
"Unfortunately, ours didn't go in. With Boydy's form this year you're surprised [his chance] didn't hit the back of the net. It just wouldn't go in for us today."
St Mirren shaded things in terms of possession, but did little with it until late on. A half-chance for Paul McGowan was expertly snuffed out by Manuel Pascali and a Kenny McLean free-kick whizzed past from 30 yards. In a desperately poor first half, the visitors were even less accomplished.
It was better after the break and Robbie Muirhead, who replaced an off-the-pace Alexei Eremenko, had Kilmarnock's first chance of the game 30 seconds after coming on. St Mirren responded with a glut of opportunities, but Samson saved Steven Thompson's header from a Josh Magennis' cross, made a terrific stop to keep out a McGowan effort, then shovelled Magennis' near post shot away for a corner.
Kilmarnock came back with a lash from Muirhead that Marian Kello stretched to palm away before Wylde ultimately made the difference, crossing for Newton to finish from around 15 yards and then rounding off a precious victory by netting three minutes from time.