St Mirren made a statement of intent on a significant day in the Championship as they finished the first quarter three points clear at the top.
Manager Jack Ross had a feeling it was going to be an important day with the chasing pack facing each other.
And he took time out to praise John Sutton who, largely unused this season, came off the bench to clinch victory.
Ross said: “It’s been a really good first quarter for us. The players and staff set goals at the start of the season and to be honest I thought they were ambitious but they have achieved them so they deserve a lot of credit.
“To keep churning out results as they have done and win seven out of the first nine games is terrific.
“I felt this was one of the biggest games of the season. We felt teams around us might drop points so it could give us a small cushion and that’s the way things turned out.
“John has done terrifically well at the club in different spells and he still has a part to play. His game time has been limited and in the manner that we play there will be times when we need him and times when we don’t.
“He went on with hunger and he might have scored before he did. It was a big goal because it allowed us to see the game out
St Mirren had dominated the first half and forced a number of saves out of Scott Gallacher before they finally took the lead in 36 minutes.
Adam Eckersley produced a good delivery from the left and Gavin Reilly, inset, clinically placed a downward header into the left corner,
Despite completely dominating, St Mirren might have conceded five minutes before half-time. Tom Walsh cut in from the right and rolled a great pass to Christian Nade but the big Frenchman scooped a shot over the bar.
They missed another chance two minutes into the second half when Nade helped on Sam Wardrop’s cross and Walsh fired over the bar from eight yards out, albeit from a tight angle.
Ross sent on Sutton for Ross Stewart and the big man came up trumps 19 minutes from time to seal an important win, particularly as Dundee United and Dunfermline dropped points.
The Buddies won a corner on the left and Sutton rose magnificently to get on the end of McShane’s ball to bullet a header into the net.
Disappointed Sons boss Stevie Aitken said: “I think for long spells there was nothing between the sides.
“We knew if they got a second goal it would kill the game off and I was disappointed with the header.
“We had about six good chances and I felt we deserved to take something out of the game.”