WHEN Danny Lennon and Gary Locke shook hands and hugged at full-time here they could well have been wishing each other good luck ahead of a nervy 48 hours for both.
This draw brought down the curtain on the season for both St Mirren and Hearts, but not for their respective managers who must wait until tomorrow to discover if they will still be in the same jobs come the start of next season.
If you are a betting man, then a few quid on Locke remaining in post and Lennon departing would seem like a decent wager at this point. The St Mirren board have delayed and delayed making a decision on whether to extend their manager's contract but their procrastination is set to come to an end tomorrow morning. It remains unclear whether it will be thumbs up or down for Lennon, although, given the length of time it has taken to get to this point, the signs do not look particularly good for the embattled St Mirren manager.
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He was unable to strengthen his argument to be kept in the post by leading his team to the victory that would have seen St Mirren achieve their best-placed finish since 1989 - Hearts having pegged back their hosts, who had taken a first-half lead - but should his four-year stint come to an end he can at least walk away with his head held high after delivering the club's first major trophy for 26 years.
"It's out of my hands," admitted Lennon. "I can only do what I've done in four years at this football club. The facts are there. Whether that is good enough for the board remains to be seen.
"They know how hard I work on a daily basis but it is now in their hands to offer me an opportunity to build on the foundations we have put in place."
The picture looks slightly rosier for Locke. With Hearts' protracted takeover now all but concluded, new majority shareholder Ann Budge will meet with staff and players at Tynecastle tomorrow. Among the topics for discussion is Locke's future and whether he will be given the chance next season to try to take the club out of the Championship. This has been a testing campaign for the novice manager, given Hearts have been burdened by a 15-point handicap for going into administration, but his young side's impressive recent run - just one defeat in their last eight games - may be enough to persuade Budge to give him a new contract.
"We'll meet Ann early in the week and we'll see what happens," said Locke. "Whether I'm due another chance is for the new owner and other people to decide. Ann will have her plans in place and know what she wants to do. Once I hear what she has to say we'll take things on from there."
A bumper Hearts support made the most of their final match in the top division for a season at least, keeping up a fair old racket throughout the 90 minutes. A varied songbook included chants in praise of Locke, a burst of bravado with "bring on the Rangers" and another sung in anticipation of "going to Cowdenbeath". There was also the small matter of Hibernian's relegation scrap to occupy them, the roar that greeted news of Kilmarnock's goal as loud as anything heard all day. "We're going down with the Hibees," they cheered, showing that, despite their team's plight, the Hearts fans haven't lost their sense of humour.
The game itself was largely incidental with Hearts long relegated and St Mirren safe, the leisurely pace of proceedings a reflection of that. It was St Mirren who scored first. Kenny McLean's shot was parried by Jamie MacDonald but Conor Newton was able to hook the ball over the goalkeeper from a tight angle. Hearts equalised two minutes into the second half. The goal wasn't too dissimilar to the one claimed by St Mirren, Jamie Walker's effort blocked by Chris Dilo but only into the path of Dale Carrick, who fizzed a shot into the net.
Only an outstanding save from Dilo denied Callum Paterson a winner in injury-time but a draw was a fair result. Now comes the anxious wait for both managers.