WHAT a way to earn your first win at McDiarmid Park in almost 22 years and afford yourself some welcome breathing space at the bottom of the table.

The long-range thunderbolts from Gary Miller, a St Johnstone player until the summer, and Stevie Lawless, which secured this second Partick win in as many matches, were things of clinical, unquestionable beauty.

That the visiting support should have gone from such dazzling brilliance to watching the last 15 minutes through the cracks in their fingers as their team somehow weathered the storm after Steven MacLean had put the home side back in the game surely just added to their joy in the end.

Life as a Jags supporter is an emotional rollercoaster at the best of times. Consecutive wins over Dundee United and Saints, a side in excellent form, have given it a rather sunnier feel of late, though.

St Johnstone should have had a penalty when Abdul Osman handled the ball and ended his involvement in the game with four minutes to play. The referee, John Beaton, did send the midfielder off, but failed to realise his infringement had been committed inside the area.

MacLean should also have scored his second just moments earlier. It matters little now, mind you.

As Lawless points out, the conversations within the Thistle dressing-room have already turned to Goal of the Season awards after this remarkable afternoon rather than the thorny topic of relegation battles.

“Gaz is a wee bit unlucky that I have topped his goal,” said Lawless. “It was goal of the season for about five minutes until I scored mine.

“It was my first of the season and I would have taken a tap-in, to be honest, but I knew the minute I hit it that it was going in. It was a one-in-a-hundred strike.”

St Johnstone did have opportunities themselves in a hugely entertaining start to the match with Graham Cummins heading wide from a Simon Lappin free-kick and Dave Mackay forcing a terrific full-length save from Tomas Cerny with a low free-kick.

It was all a prelude to the real fireworks starting just before the half-hour, though. A cross from Callum Booth was headed into the path of Miller by Brian Easton around 25 yards out and he released an unstoppable low drive on the half-volley that swerved beautifully into the far corner.

Miller was only included in the side as a result of Mustapha Dumbaya calling off sick before kick-off. From the moment the ball left his right foot, there was only ever going to be one end destination.

If Miller’s goal was spectacular, Lawless’ effort on 34 minutes was something else altogether. He received a throw-in from Miller, cut in from the right and released a left-footed shot from at least 30 yards that flew into Mannus’ top right-hand corner with the singular purpose of an Exocet missile.

Saints had squandered a number of chances in the lead-up to Partick’s second and looked likely to count the cost of their profligacy, but, with Michael O’Halloran introduced for Lappin at the interval and bringing new drive to the home side, they got themselves back into the contest in the 48th minute.

Graham Cummins created space for himself on the left of the penalty area and MacLean was left in far too much space to meet his cross just a matter of yards out and head home. With nine league goals now to his credit, he is most certainly not a man to leave unattended in such a dangerous area.

The sad thing is that the game became a little bogged down after MacLean’s goal. Even so, there were still further chances with Saints missing two great opportunities in the closing eight minutes.

Cummins, replaced by John Sutton seconds later, put a free header straight at Cerny at the back post after being picked out at the back post by a Liam Craig corner. MacLean then controlled a ball from Easton inside the area, sidestepped Cerny and was just about to pull the trigger when Miller put in a crucial challenge.

Osman then handled a Joe Shaughnessy shot. Everyone in blue claimed for the penalty. Beaton, although brandishing a second yellow card, awarded a free-kick instead and MacLean blazed it into the crowd.

“I have seen it back and we should have had a penalty kick,” said Tommy Wright, the St Johnstone manager. “He was well inside the box, but the officials have missed that. It was not borderline and it is disappointing.”

Alan Archibald, the Partick manager, had his own view on Beaton’s big decision.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it was wrong,” he said. “They didn’t get many right, did they?”

St Johnstone (4-4-2): Mannus; Shaughnessy, Mackay, Scobbie, Easton; Wotherspoon (Caddis 76), Lappin (O’Halloran 46), Davidson, Craig; MacLean, Cummins (Sutton 82).

Scorer: MacLean (48).

Partick Thistle (4-2-3-1): Cerny; Miller, Lindsay, Seaborne, Booth; Osman, Welsh; Amoo (Frans 88), Lawless, Bannigan; Pogba (Doolan 72).

Booked: Seaborne (11), Bannigan (64), Osman (66). Sent-off: Osman (86).

Scorers: Miller (28), Lawless (34).

Referee: John Beaton.

Attendance: 3414.