ST MIRREN won’t be welcomed back at Fir Park any time soon. A week on from stealing away with a penalty shoot-out win to take their place in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals, they carved out what could be an even more precious victory in their ongoing battle against relegation.

Thoroughly outplayed in the first half by a Motherwell side that created but spurned an abundance of chances, Saints rolled with the punches and then unleashed a few of their own after the break.

Jon Obika drew them level soon after the restart before Ilkay Durmus’ volley three minutes from time sealed their first league victory since the end of December.

It had the effect of lifting them six points clear of bottom side Hearts and four points ahead of Hamilton Accies in 11th having played a game fewer.

“Our away form has been very poor prior to this so this is a huge victory for us,” said St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin.

“Earlier this season we might have been happy with a point but we felt Motherwell were there for the taking at 1-1. And we got our reward in the end.”

In contrast, Motherwell’s barren run goes on. They have not won in their last eight games and not in front of their own supporters since December 7. They remain in third place in the table but still only a point ahead of Aberdeen.

“We should have been out of sight and it could have been three or four nil,” sighed manager Stephen Robinson. “But St Mirren were always going to come into the game. And they were clinical and we weren’t.”

There was better news for Motherwell with the return of David Turnbull after more than nine months out. The midfielder was given the last 19 minutes in his long-awaited return from the knee injury – and subsequent surgery – that kyboshed his summer move to Celtic.

“It was good to see David back,” added Robinson. “That’s probably the limit of where he is in terms of game time. He’s not ready to start football matches.”

Missed penalties proved to be Motherwell’s undoing in that cup replay but they were clinical when it mattered here after 13 minutes.

Rolando Aarons bamboozled Akin Famewo with a step over as he sped into the box and the on-loan Norwich defender clattered him to the turf. Liam Donnelly nonchalantly stroked in the penalty.

Motherwell were completely in control at this point and only a terrific double save from Vaclav Hladky prevented first Declan Gallagher and then Tony Watt from extending their lead minutes later.

St Mirren then almost conceded a goal from their own corner. Waters’ weak delivery was cleared to Watt who motored up the field before unleashing a shot that Hladky was again equal to.

The visitors’ sole attempt on goal in the opening 45 minutes was a deflected Durmus shot that was easily saved.

They emerged for the second half, however, with renewed fire in their bellies. And within five minutes they had drawn level.

Lee Hodson did well to advance into a dangerous area and from his cross Obika poked the ball over the line at the second attempt. Like Donnelly, it was his 11th goal of the season.

It was fairly even after that, with the visitors having more of the ball but not always using it productively. Motherwell looked a threat on the counter but struggled to carve out chances.

St Mirren left it late to claim their winning goal. Substitute Tony Andreu crossed for Durmus who was given too much space to apply a smart finish.