Pavol Safranko’s goal and performance against Ross County might just have provided Dundee United boss Robbie Neilson with a major boost at he tries to get his team back to the Premiership.
Last Friday night’s draw with the leaders in Dingwall almost certainly means the Tangerines are heading for the play-offs.
There is no point in pretending otherwise, the loss of an injury-time equaliser in that top-of-the-table clash was a massive, and probably fatal, blow to hopes of winning automatic promotion.
But Slovakian international Safranko’s display was encouraging and might just have solved a major dilemma for the manager.
For a start, the striker’s excellent first-half strike was his first in 10 outings for club and country, and having his second top scorer – with 12 goals he trails Nicky Clark by one in the scoring charts – back among the goals has to be a timely plus for Robbie.
Possibly just as important was the 24-year-old was handed a different role last Friday and it was one in which he excelled.
Almost certainly in part down to that recent lack of goals but also because of the success Paul McMullan enjoyed as a central striker in the Tannadice win over County last month, the manager moved Safranko out wide and again went with McMullan through the middle.
As the game unfolded and his goal emphasised, the man on loan from Aalborg showed that, with his usual high energy level, his slightly deeper starting position did not prevent him getting forward to add to the goal threat.
Operating facing the opponent’s goal rather than usually getting the ball with his back to it when he is being used as the main striker, Safranko proceeded to show that, as well as being a man who gets on the end of chances, he can be a creator of them.
Twice from deep he played inch-perfect defence-splitting passes that should have led to what would have been a decisive second goal.
And that hitherto unseen aspect of his play might just mean his manager is tempted to keep him in this deeper role.
As well as adding to the overall goal threat of the team, it might solve a problem that’s been apparent since major changes were made to the squad in the January transfer window.
With Safranko leading the line up front, Clark has usually operated just behind him while new arrival Peter Pawlett has been pushed wide.
That’s brought success but Pawlett has made no secret of his desire to play centrally and, when he did in the recent win at Dunfermline, showed he can be a potent force there.
Now Neilson knows with Safranko deployed in a wider area, he can use the former Aberdeen man in the middle and push Clark one forward.
Right up top is the area where the 27-year-old played for previous employers Queen of the South and Dunfermline where he enjoyed a goals-to-games ratio that was just shy of one every two matches.
There would, of course, also be the option of using McMullan at the head of the attack, particularly when faced with big central defenders who lack pace like those at County.
It’s also still hoped Osman Sow will recover in time from his injury problems to make a contribution in the closing weeks of the regular season as well as through the play-offs.
Those options could help United find the net more than they have done of late.
If nothing else, they also make it harder for opposing managers to guess who’ll be where in the attacking areas when they come up against the Tangerines in the run-in.