Michael Doyle’s own goal might not have been the prettiest of the season but Dundee United manager Robbie Neilson insists it’s “a big one” that sets them up to put a stamp down on the league at Ross County.
After Pavol Safranko’s early header on Saturday, the Tangerines dominated the game against Queen of the South but had to wait to calm any nerves by sealing the points late on.
Robbie’s men were better than the Doonhamers throughout but weren’t able to relax with the knowledge the three points were in the bag until Paul McMullan forced Doyle into putting through his own goal on 81 minutes.
Despite the manner of the goal, Robbie is delighted to go into next week’s clash with promotion rivals Ross County on the back of two wins and two clean sheets, after their 2-0 win at Dunfermline the week previously.
He said: “It wasn’t a very good goal to score from our perspective but it was a big one for us.
“It’s difficult to break teams down in this league and Gary Naysmith had Queens organised really well and because they have the threat of Dykes and Dobbie you know if you make a bad pass and they nick it those two will score goals.
“One of the most pleasing things for me was the two centre-backs and full-backs shut everything off.
“It’s a big week for us, this Saturday is a big game in the league and also to put a stamp down. They (County) came to Tannadice and beat us 5-1 not long ago. Obviously, things have changed since then and it’s an opportunity for us to go there and show that we mean business.
“It will be a hard game. Ross County and Ayr are the two teams who have been on fire since the start of the season. County have had a wee blip with two draws but that happens in this league and they’ll take confidence from the performance they had here against us and think they’re going to turn us over again.
“We’ll need to prepare very well this week, we’ll stay over the night before – the chairman has been great from that perspective to fund that because I think it’s very important we take this game as professionally as possibly.”
The victory was also Robbie’s first home success since taking the job after being held to a draw by Inverness Caley Thistle on his home bow – the first of many, he hopes, to bring the crowds back.
He added: “It was a good result and important to get the first win at home.
“We had another good support from the fans which was great but it’s important we continue to build on that and get people coming back to the ground.
“I think there are still a lot of people who are unsure whether this is the turning point for us and I think the people there on Saturday will say it was a good result but there was also a good performance.
“We need the fans to keep backing us. When the players come out and see that it makes a massive difference.
“On Saturday, we went 1-0 up which was great but then we had a wee period in the second half where we were under pressure and the fans backed us.
“That helps you through and then we got the second goal and could start to relax.”
Queens boss Gary Naysmith, meanwhile, was annoyed by the manner of Safranko’s opener in the third minute.
“We made such a poor start,” he said.
“We spoke to the players about the first 20 minutes being important because United had built up momentum over the last couple of weeks but we lost a really poor goal.
“It was just a ‘floaty’ cross into the six-yard box and the guy has a free header.
“So I was really disappointed with that and then you worry a wee bit.
“We dug in, got to half-time, then changed it a wee bit. However, just as we really tried to go attacking we shot ourselves in the foot with a nonsense goal. The game was finished then.
“The effort and workrate was there from the players but we are not going to get anywhere if we keep making mistakes.”