St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin knows their festive fixture list will define their Ladbrokes Premiership campaign.
The Buddies climbed off the foot of the table and into ninth place as they got December off to a flying start with a crucial 1-0 win over 10-man Hamilton.
Cammy MacPherson’s second-half strike sealed their first away league win this season and ended a run of three straight defeats.
Goodwin insists it was vital to beat Hamilton, who dropped to second-bottom, and wants more of the same when they take on Livingston and St Johnstone in their next two games.
Prior to the winter break they also face Celtic and Kilmarnock, with Goodwin admitting their next two fixtures are massive as they strive to preserve their top-flight status.
Goodwin said: “You know, these are the games we’re going to be judged on, Hamilton we managed to beat them 1-0 and a couple of weeks ago we beat Ross County 2-1.
“We are disappointed to lose any game and we could probably have picked up a couple of points against Hibs and Aberdeen but we didn’t.
“Losing to Motherwell, there is no disgrace in that because Stephen Robinson has had plenty of time to build a good squad of players and they did turn us over quite comfortably.
“But these are the games that our season will be decided on. This was a massive result for us.
“I would have loved it to be a bit more comfortable and your heart is in your mouth in the last five minutes because I didn’t think we managed the game well enough but all the credit must go to the players because I thought they were outstanding, every single one of them.”
Goodwin was delighted to get Cody Cooke back as he made his first league outing of the campaign after suffering a knee ligament injury in July.
He said: “Cody was excellent when he came on. We knew that we would only get the hour out of Kyle McAllister because he has been out for a wee while so we were always going to make that change.
“But I thought Cody was outstanding and led the line really well. He got into good areas and got a good shot off that brought out a good save.”
Hamilton, who had Alex Gogic sent off in the 77th minute, have now failed to win in their last 10 games.
Head coach Brian Rice remains confident they can halt their poor run but knows they need to produce more quality in both boxes.
Rice said: “The players are hurting. That’s one thing about the players they give it everything they’ve got.
“Their commitment and endeavour is never in question. We were down to 10 men again and kept battling away. It’s very difficult but they keep going.
“I don’t think it’s belief. I just think it’s a wee bit more quality in the final third and to keep the back door shut.
“It was a big game for us and we’re really disappointed in the manner we lost the game.”
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