St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright praised his players for recovering from an awful start to the season as they moved to within four points of the top six with a hard-fought victory away to Hamilton.
The Perth side were bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership table earlier in the month but have put together a four-game unbeaten run to move up to ninth.
Ali McCann’s goal 10 minutes from time was enough to win this lacklustre encounter against Accies.
Wright said: “I named the team before the game – normally I do that earlier. But I said to the ones on the bench they were going to play a big part and it was important they were ready.
“Callum Hendry comes on and makes a difference. It’s a well-worked goal in the end and the one bit of magic in a pretty quiet game.
“We’re absolutely delighted to get three points and another clean sheet. We now have an opportunity to get through the 20-point barrier.
“If we can win on Sunday against Ross County, that will finish the year off pretty well. We had a bit of a disaster in terms of the start of the campaign, but we seem to be turning that around.
“If you keep clean sheets, you always have a chance to win the game. At home, we’ll be wanting to take the game to Ross County and have a massive opportunity to move up a place and get to 22 points. Six weeks ago, nobody probably gave us any chance of doing that.”
Hamilton boss Brian Rice felt defeat was harsh on his side but conceded they did not create enough chances to test St Johnstone goalkeeper Zander Clark.
He said: “Our play up to the final third was excellent, especially in the opening 45 minutes. But the most important thing is putting the ball in the net and the last thing we did with the ball wasn’t up to scratch.
“We played well in the first half but without an end product and I think we’ve had our pockets picked today. St Johnstone have been doing that for years and fair play to them.
“However, I don’t think that anyone could question that we were the better team, that’s not up for debate. But we’ll dust ourselves down and go again.”