St Johnstone ended a run of four straight defeats against Partick Thistle with a richly deserved success which had special resonance for midfielder Paul Paton.
The former Thistle captain was given a hostile reception from home fans, but a first-half goal from Steven Anderson and a second from Steven MacLean after the break meant it was Paton who was all smiles at the end.
The 29-year-old, who joined Dundee United after skippering the Jags to promotion in 2013, said: “It was a good win but I was gutted with the reception I received from the Thistle fans. It was expected, so I am just delighted to be able to leave with the three points.
“If I am being honest, I am a bit disappointed that things ended as they did during my time with Thistle and that I don’t have a better rapport with the fans.
“You move on in life, and I took the decision that was best for me and my daughter at the time.
“I don’t care what anyone says. I just came here for the points, and that’s what I left with.”
Tommy Wright’s side got their noses in front after weathering a bright opening 10 minutes from the hosts, with Zander Clark doing well to keep out a low Steven Lawless effort.
The opening goal came midway through the first half when Chris Millar laid the ball into the path of Danny Swanson on the right and he picked out Anderson with a cross deep to the back post.
The angle looked too tight for a shot, but the defender stuck out his left boot and the ball flew behind Tomas Cerny.
There was only going to be one winner after that, and the second goal came on 64 minutes when Swanson intercepted a loose pass from home substitute Kyle Edwards.
Swanson picked out MacLean and he twisted and turned before cracking the ball past replacement goalkeeper Ryan Scully from 20 yards.
The visitors saw the game out with the minimum of fuss and, while Paton may struggle to understand the reception he received, he is well on-board with what Wright is looking to do with the Perth club.
Paton explained: “I felt with the shape we had that we would be really difficult to break down.
“There is also a real togetherness and you can feel that togetherness when we are playing.
“You feel that the boys were going to run hard for each other, make tackles and fight for each other.”
The summer signing from Dundee United reckons he has quickly learned Wright’s winning formula, adding: “The secret is the mentality of the older players and I have seen a lot in the time I have been here.
“The boys all want to fight hard for each other and they all want to win for the team, themselves and for their families.
“The experienced boys at this club do wonders for it.
“It’s about hard work at the top and all the way down, and that creates a good rapport with the fans. A lot of the boys have been here for years.
“They won the Scottish Cup and everything is great at the minute but we need to make sure it stays that way.”
Anderson received special praise from Paton, who said: “Ando scored a few goals against Dundee United when I was there, and there were a few big goals amongst them.
“I know he has that in his locker, and it was great technique… He scored with his left foot, which is his bad one, so it was a brilliant goal. It set us up nicely for the day.”
While the older players may be leading the way with their commitment, midfielder Swanson is supplying the guile, with Paton pointing out: “Danny has been a breath of fresh air.
“He did well here last season before I joined, and this year he’s been great.
“He’s the man we go to when we need someone to be creative and get us goals,” he added.
The season may still be in its infancy but Paton believes the Perth men are again poised to push for a place in the top six at the expense of so-called bigger clubs.
“Top six is the aim for every team, but it’s going to be really hard this year if you look at other clubs’ budgets compared to us.
“We are punching above our weight but that is what we aim to do.
“We need to aim high. We are there just now and we would like to stay there.”