Tommy Wright hailed his St Johnstone squad for securing an “incredible” fifth-straight Ladbrokes Premiership top six finish.
The Perth outfit eventually stumbled over the line as they crashed to a 3-0 defeat at Kilmarnock in their final pre-split fixture.
But Hamilton and Ross County did Saints a favour by beating Dundee and Partick respectively as Saints were reprieved.
Wright, though, could not praise his squad enough, saying: “I think 3-0 was a bit harsh on us but ultimately other results went well for us and it’s another great achievement getting into the top six.
“It’s an incredible feat to get into the top six for the fifth year in a row and it’s the players who deserve all the credit because it’s them who do it.
“Particularly this year too because we had six players missing today through injuries. We sold our best player in Michael O’Halloran in the January window too so it’s testament to the players to deal with that. It’s been a difficult season, but I am proud of the players and I do think getting top-six this season is even better than last season and previous years.”
Killie’s victory was boss Lee Clark’s first after seven attempts since he replaced Gary Locke in February and he admits it could yet prove to be a turning point for the Rugby Park side and their survival fight.
Kris Boyd hit the post early on but the former Rangers poacher refused to buckle, sweeping home the opener from a free-kick after 25 minutes as he finally hit his first goal of 2016.
Kallum Higginbotham made it two with a back-post header after 66 minutes but Saints were frustrated when Liam Craig’s headed finish was disallowed for a push on Mark O’Hara while Jamie MacDonald performed heroics in the Ayrshiremen’s goal.
And Kilmarnock’s first victory since beating Motherwell eight weeks ago was confirmed when Boyd lashed home a last-minute penalty after Rory McKenzie was tripped by Plamen Krachunov in the box.
Killie now have an eight-point cushion over bottom dogs Dundee United but remain four points behind Accies and outright safety.
Clark said: “The big picture isn’t it being my first win, the win for the team is the most important thing.
“I’ve been more than happy with the level of performance from my team, with the exception of Ross County we’ve been playing really well. We just haven’t had the luck.
“But we carried on after a nervous start and we got into our stride, we scored three and could have scored more. We have been delivering that type of performance without the goals.
“It was never a worry for me, I knew if we kept the level of performance and took our chances and enjoyed a bit more luck then we would get the result.
“It’s absolutely the aim to try and track down Hamilton, the aim is to track down the teams above us.
“We have five games left and we need to try and take as many points from them as possible and get closer to Hamilton and the other teams.
“We need to keep going as nothing has been achieved yet but when you play the way we have then you have a chance of winning games.”