Match ends, St. Mirren 0, Ross County 3.
St Mirren were consigned to a bottom-two finish in the Scottish Premiership as Ross County's impressive revival continued with a Liam Boyce hat-trick.
Third-bottom County cruised to a win that lifts them 16 points clear of the Buddies at the basement.
County merited their lead thanks to Boyce's close-range toe-poke.
St Mirren's Viktor Genev was sent off shortly after the break and two more clinical Boyce finishes ensured an eighth win in nine unbeaten games.
The continuation of the fine form under Jim McIntyre was not only bad news for St Mirren but also for Motherwell.
County are now six points clear of the second-bottom side and the Buddies are left with Ian Baraclough's Steelmen as their only remaining, if distant, target if they are to avoid the one automatic relegation spot.
St Mirren manager Gary Teale had gone for aerial power up front as he brought back captain Steven Thompson to partner Yoann Arquin up front, with Gregg Wylde on the wing to supply the ammunition and James Dayton and Kieran Sadlier dropping out.
The problem for a team who have only scored eight times at home this season was that, for all his qualities, Thompson has never been prolific while Arquin has now helped two sides to the bottom of the Premiership this season having left County just before the Dingwall side's revival.
St Mirren's one moment of threat before falling behind came via a rare bit of skill as John McGinn performed a neat Zidane-turn before firing powerfully over.
The home side had hoped for a big turnout as they drank at the last-chance saloon, but the funereal atmosphere suggested the fans had already given up the ghost.
Their mood of gloom deepened as County's understandably unchanged starting line-up started the game the more confident side.
St Mirren were dogged in defence and survived a series of corners, but they were living too dangerously in a season bereft of Paisley-patterned luck for that to last.
Indeed, it proved third time lucky for County when Michael Gardyne's shot was blocked, Craig Curran's follow up was parried at point-blank range by Mark Ridgers, but the goalkeeper was beaten by Boyce's prodded finish.
County consistently threatened to break behind a St Mirren defence playing a dangerously high line and pot shots from Boyce and Martin Woods threatened to extend the lead.
The Buddies' cause was not helped by an injury that forced defender Marc McAusland to be replaced with forward Thomas Reilly before 45 minutes had passed.
It was made even more impossible when Genev was shown the red card three minutes after the break for a last-man challenge on the goalscorer.
St Mirren took 60 minutes to force Mark Brown into a save, but McGinn's deflected drive presented a simple catch for the goalkeeper.
Either side of that, the traffic was all towards the home goal, Gardyne striking the outside of the post with the free-kick that followed the red card and the diving Ridgers superbly denying Woods and Raffaele De Vita.
Boyce showed the skill that won him a spell with Werder Bremen by gathering a Gardyne cross on his chest, nutmegging Jim Goodwin and firing past Ridgers from 12 yards.
The Northern Ireland international completed County's first top-flight hat-trick in stoppage time as he turned in a Tony Dingwall cross.
- 4McAuslandSubstituted forReillyat 43'minutes
- 52GenevBooked at 49mins
- 15ArquinSubstituted forSadlierat 67'minutes
- 9ThompsonSubstituted forGowat 69'minutes
- 26WoodsSubstituted forKissat 84'minutes
- 24De VitaSubstituted forDingwallat 79'minutes
- 11CurranSubstituted forSernasat 86'minutes
- 22Palazuelos Garcia
- William Collum
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, St. Mirren 0, Ross County 3.
Goal! St. Mirren 0, Ross County 3. Liam Boyce (Ross County) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Tony Dingwall.
Foul by Filip Kiss (Ross County).
John McGinn (St. Mirren) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Liam Boyce (Ross County).
Stephen Mallan (St. Mirren) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Substitution, Ross County. Darvydas Sernas replaces Craig Curran.
Attempt blocked. Liam Boyce (Ross County) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Substitution, Ross County. Filip Kiss replaces Martin Woods.
Attempt saved. Liam Boyce (Ross County) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Attempt saved. Kieran Sadlier (St. Mirren) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Substitution, Ross County. Tony Dingwall replaces Raffaele De Vita.
Goal! St. Mirren 0, Ross County 2. Liam Boyce (Ross County) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Michael Gardyne.
Martin Woods (Ross County) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Kieran Sadlier (St. Mirren).
Attempt missed. Jackson Irvine (Ross County) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high following a corner.
Corner, Ross County. Conceded by Sean Kelly.
Substitution, St. Mirren. Alan Gow replaces Steven Thompson.
Substitution, St. Mirren. Kieran Sadlier replaces Yoann Arquin.