IT was the 48th minute. St Mirren were hosting Hearts in a winner-takes-all relegation scrap at the foot of the table, knowing a win would propel them four points clear of the drop zone. If Jim Goodwin’s men lost by two or more goals – like they did the last time the two sides met – then they would be propping up the rest at the foot of the Premiership.

It didn’t happen, though. Jon Obika bustled his way through the visitors’ defence before prodding the ball home, sparking scenes of wild jubilation around three quarters of the Simple Digital Arena as the Buddies ground out a slender victory.

It would be the last top-flight game in Scotland before football came to a grinding halt and the three points would prove incredibly valuable to the Paisley club. As the infighting began and Hearts’ relegation to the second tier was confirmed, Goodwin couldn’t help but look on and think, ‘There but for the grace of God’.

“Listen, that was the most important result in the club’s recent history: there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “It doesn’t even bear thinking about but if we’d lost that game 2-0 then we’d have been the ones at the bottom of the league and being relegated.

“We’d be in the same position Hearts find themselves in – them, Partick Thistle and Stranraer – and it’s been horrendous for them. You feel for them, of course you do, but I’m just glad we’re not there and that we’ve been able to plan for the Premiership this summer.”

That planning is now under way and in full flow. Jak Alnwick has been recruited from Rangers to fill the void left by Vaclav Hladky, while Richard Tait has also been snapped up after the full-back’s Motherwell contract expired.

Goodwin hopes to bring in a few more new faces in the coming months. The financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic has understandably caused the Buddies to tighten the purse strings a little, but the former Alloa boss thinks that there are positives to the current situation, too.

“We’re constantly in dialogue with agents and players,” he said. “I’d like to get another four or five in.

“Defensively we’re quite light. It’ll be a while till Ryan Flynn and Kyle Magennis are back. In forward and midfield we’re not too bad but if I could bring in another striker I’ll try to do that.

“The pandemic has had a huge impact on everything. We’re no different. The board have been a great support up to now. We had great discussions in December/January talking about the summer trying to make sure we were as safe as soon as possible then to plan for next season.

“That budget we discussed has gone out the window which I can completely understand in the circumstances. We’ve had to readjust slightly but players are having to readjust their demands as well.

“The majority of players and agents are realistic about the contracts on the table. We have to be fair to the players as well.”

Goodwin continued: “It’s fair to say that six or seven of the teams in Scotland would have struggled to compete with a number of teams in League Two last season - which is the fourth tier in England. But now because of this we are actually getting inundated with a number of players from agents we enquired about last season but couldn’t necessarily afford them.

“But now, all of a sudden, they become players we may be able to get up the road. And that’s because of the situation in England as well.

“We were never ones for paying astronomical amounts of money anyway. The club has always been run very, very well. We live within our means; which I think is important. As a business model I think we are a good example to everyone else out there and that is what we aim to do.

“I’m not one who’s going to go in and demand three or four grand a week for a player when I know that doesn’t fit within our structure. We are in a good position at the moment.

“We’d obviously like to have a bit more money in the bank, as would everyone else, but I think the fans and everybody out there can be reassured that the club is being run properly and we certainly won’t be putting ourselves in to any hardship in the coming months, that’s for sure.”