Lawrence Shankland’s second-half strike won the day for Dundee United as they saw off Partick Thistle 1-0 at Tannadice to remain top of the Championship.
The former Ayr United hitman came back to haunt ex-boss Ian McCall, scoring with a glancing header off the post on 62 minutes to maintain the Tangerines’ three-point lead at the top of the table.
United boss Robbie Neilson made one change to the team which beat Dunfermline 2-0 on Saturday, with midfielder Adam King coming in for centre-half Troy Brown.
That meant Calum Butcher once again shifted back into the centre of defence from midfield.
However, they were forced into another change after just 45 seconds of the contest as Peter Pawlett pulled up with hamstring complaint and was soon replaced by Louis Appere.
And the big striker had an instant impact playing off the left, latching onto Paul McMullan’s back heel on 10 minutes and putting a dangerous cross into the box which was eventually cleared.
McMullan then had the first clear chance of the match on 17 minutes as he robbed Stuart Bannigan 20 yards inside his own half and raced through on goal.
With Bannigan and Sean McGinty bearing down on him, the attacker only managed to poke the ball straight at Scott Fox in the Thistle goal, who gratefully collected.
Soon after, the visitors had their first clear-cut opportunity as Dario Zanatta’s shot on the turn in a crowded penalty area forced Benjamin Siegrist into a save.
And it was hearts in mouths for United on 34 minutes when it appeared Partick had taken the lead, only for Kenny Miller’s strike to be ruled out for offside after Siegrist once again saved from Zanatta.
A minute later, though, it was nearly the Terrors pulling out in front as Fox had to claw an Appere thunderbolt from a tight angle behind for a corner.
Nicky Clark then found Shankland with a free-kick as the chance opened up inside the 18-yard box only for the hitman to see his left-foot strike deflected behind.
On the stroke of half-time United gave away possession on the edge of the box as Ian Harkes failed to control a poor pass from Jamie Robson, allowing Shea Gordon to steal in for Partick.
Gordon was then brought down for a free-kick, which James Penrice conspired to steer wide.
Two minutes into the second period the Terrors went close again. Shankland nodded Clark’s free-kick into the path of Butcher in the six-yard box with the Englishman’s header going narrowly over.
And Shankland went inches closer to finding the back of the net on moments later as he cracked a left-foot drive off the crossbar
Zanatta forced his way through the home defence on 53 minutes and unleashed a stinging drive which Siegrist had to palm away.
However, it was United who finally made the breakthrough on 62 minutes. And to no one’s surprise, it was talisman Shankland latching onto a driven Appere cross from the left to steer a glancing header in off the post for his 15th goal of the Championship campaign.
Substitute Sam Stanton nearly made it two on 75 minutes as he curled a right foot shot just wide of a Partick post as the Tangerines tried to put the match to bed.
Four minutes later, though, the Jags almost equalised as Joe Cardle’s audacious flicked effort trundled just wide of the United goal.
However, the Tangerines held on through the final nervy moments for another big three points.
With title rivals Ayr United, Inverness and Dundee all also winning, Dundee United’s gap at the top of the Championship remains at three points as they head for Caley Thistle on Saturday.
Dundee United XI (4-2-3-1): Siegrist (GK); Smith, Robson, Reynolds (C), Butcher; Harkes, King (Stanton 59); McMullan, Pawlett (Appere 3), Clark (Watson 90+2); Shankland.
Subs not used: Deniz (GK), Sporle, C Smith, Cooney.
Partick Thistle XI (4-2-3-1): Fox (GK); Williamson, Penrice, Saunders, McGinty (C); Gordon, Bannigan; Cardle (Harkins 80), Palmer Zanatta; Miller (Mansell 68).
Subs not used: Sneddon (GK), O’Ware, Slater, De Vita, Kakay.
Referee: Greg Aitken.