Manager John Hughes says the “football gods” shined on Ross County as they secured their place in the Scottish Premiership with a win over Motherwell.
Trailing to an early Sam Foley opener – and with Kilmarnock leading against Hamilton – the Highlanders were facing a play-off final against Dundee.
But goals from Iain Vigurs and Michael Gardyne ensured the Dingwall men finished 10th.
“Two goals from guys who have given so much to this club,” said Hughes.
“Iain Vigurs scored a fantastic goal and Michael Gardyne was cool and composed.”
Motherwell finish the season in eighth, after being leapfrogged on the final day by St Mirren.
County needed a point to ensure safety, but it was a tall order against a Motherwell side who had not been defeated at home since February, and had lost just once in their last seven Premiership games.
And, early on, the home side got their noses in front when a cross deflected on to the thigh of the on-rushing Foley, who did not know much about it but claimed the opening goal.
Within minutes, news filtered through that Kilmarnock had taken the lead against Hamilton.
Now County were looking at a play-off spot, but they could have moved back up the table moments later when the ball fell kindly in the box for Jordan White, but he volleyed his shot off the top of the bar.
It was looking like a frustrating afternoon for John Hughes’ side, but they took control of the contest and their own destiny in the second half.
It began with Vigurs conjuring up a special strike to level. After an exchange of passes, the County captain curled a delightful left-foot shot around the goalkeeper.
Stephen Kelly could have made it 2-1 but swiped fresh air when a low cross was played into his path. But County kept pressing and Gardyne latched on to a through ball and made no mistake, finishing inside the near post to give County their lead.
Now only two goals from Motherwell would put them back into trouble, but it never looked likely as the home side’s campaign petered out to an unremarkable conclusion.
Man of the match – Iain Vigurs
What did we learn?
Motherwell got their noses in front but never looked like they would build on their lead. The urgency was clearly with the visitors as they battled to preserve their Premiership status.
County took their time to get going but played some good football in the second half, and once again showed they can step it up in a big game.
What did they say?
Motherwell manager Graham Alexander: “We’ve thrown away three points. We should have been better than that today, we have been better than that. It’s a sore one, we have to take it on the chin.
“We went into a mode where ‘this will be enough’, and you can’t do that in professional football.”
Ross County manager John Hughes: “We found a shape that suits us, we’ve got boys who can look after the ball, we’ve got boys who can dig in, and all the credit goes to the players. They were all in it together.”