St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright took a small crumb of comfort following their 4-0 defeat at Motherwell in the fact that his team were not getting cut adrift.
Bottom side Saints have shown signs of revival in recent weeks with their first two wins in the Ladbrokes Premiership and a draw against Aberdeen but they also conceded four goals against Hibernian during that run and again were brought back down to earth at Fir Park.
The Perth side squandered chances to counter Motherwell as the hosts made a sloppy start but fell behind when the lively Jermaine Hylton crossed for Devante Cole to nod home in the 29th minute.
Motherwell stepped it up after the restart and Peter Hartley headed in from a 49th-minute corner but even then Saints were well in the game and Matty Kennedy missed the best of their chances to grab a lifeline.
Another corner yielded the third goal in the 72nd minute though as Jake Carroll netted on the rebound and the remainder of the game was only lit up by an 89th-minute breakaway which finished with substitute Christy Manzinga rounding off the scoring.
Wright admitted after the game that he needed to bring in an experienced defender in January and took solace from the league table with Saints only three points off seventh on Saturday night and with company on 11 points at the foot of the Premiership.
“The good thing of it all is that we are not getting cut adrift,” he said. “That is the biggest positive we have got, because we are still in there.
“Hamilton and Livingston only gained a point on us, St Mirren got beat, there’s not much change at the bottom of the table for us. We all seem to be dropping points.
“But that’s only a small comfort, the fact that nobody is getting away from us. We have to get better.”
Manzinga’s goal came on his long-awaited debut. The French-born attacker, who played in the same Paris St Germain youth team as former Well defender Cedric Kipre, impressed on trial in the summer after leaving a club in Belgium, netting a spectacular overhead kick in a friendly at Gretna.
Motherwell signed the 24-year-old despite uncovering a hamstring problem and manager Stephen Robinson is optimistic the gamble will pay off.
“It’s fantastic for him,” Robinson said. “He has had to wait a long time for his chance through injury. We took a bit of a gamble on him. He hasn’t been fit, he has been getting there.
“I think his understanding of the game is still quite naive but he’s got raw attributes there and hopefully he is another good find for us.
“We don’t know what he’s going to do sometimes so I’m not sure that the opposition do.
“But I’m delighted for him because he is a brilliant boy, living over here on his own.
“The boys have really taken to him and everyone is really, really delighted for him with the work he has put in.”