Callum Davidson hailed on-loan Rangers winger Glenn Middleton for firing St Johnstone past Ross County 1-0 and into the top six for the first time this season.
The manager feared the substitute's perfectly timed 86th-minute strike – his first for the club – would not prove enough to pip St Mirren.
But a late Hamilton equaliser deprived the Buddies of two precious points and the Perth club squeezed into the top half of the table just before the split, thanks to a goal difference of just two in their favour.
"It was great timing," said Davidson, whose Saints have posted an impressive run of just two losses in 15 games.
"All credit to the players after finding themselves at the bottom of the league earlier in the season and now making the top six.
"It has been a great season for us, winning the Betfred Cup and now this. I couldn't be happier.
"I thought it was a really good performance, playing on the front foot. We limited them to very few chances and had a few ourselves to score.
"But I thought it was going to be one of those days, especially when I heard St Mirren were winning.
"I was delighted for Glenn. He has had to be patient. His attitude was brilliant.
"With the form of the team he has struggled to get in but he and Stevie May worked their socks off when they came on."
County manager John Hughes admitted his underperforming Staggies were far from their best.
But he remained confident they can claw their way to safety in a three-way relegation fight with Hamilton and Kilmarnock.
"You have to be honest in your assessment of the game. If we'd taken anything, it would have been an injustice," he admitted.
"That's the worst we've played – especially in the first half – since I've come to the club.
"It's not been like them but we were second-best all over the pitch. It was like the ball was a hot potato.
"From now until the end of the season, we need to be at it. You need to have that glaze in your eyes when the wife's talking to you and just concentrate on the football 24/7 and get yourself in that zone.
"I trust the players. My frustration is that I know they've got better in them than they showed here today."