Dundee United have “proved a point” with their most emphatic away win of the season.
Any sort of victory would have been acceptable given their three-game losing streak on the road, and the nature of the last two of those in particular.
Not since Celtic came to their ground in March 2017 has a side beaten Inverness Caley Thistle by three goals in the Highlands.
And Nicky Clark, the scorer of United’s second, believes a message has been sent out.
“Obviously we had a couple of poor performances away from home and we knew this was a big week for us with three games,” he said.
“I think we’ve shown what we’re all about.
“This is always a hard place to come, especially in tough conditions.
“That’s three wins and three clean-sheets. All in all it’s been a good week.
“To a man across the team we were excellent. It’s a massive three points.”
It was at defenders and central midfielders that most of the criticism has been directed following the losses at Alloa and Queen of the South and Clark reserved special praise for the players in those areas of the team.
“I thought the boys at the back were excellent,” said the former Rangers and Dunfermline man. “Big Benjy’s save at 1-0 was crucial.
“The back four have been great, Paul Watson especially since he’s come back in.
“The physical of things had been questioned and rightly so because of the results we’ve had.
“We proved a point.
“In the middle of the park Calum Butcher and Ian Harkes were making their tackles and the two centre-halves did a great job.”
United took a first half lead when Paul McMullan’s drilled cross was turned into his own net by Shaun Rooney.
At 1-0 Benjamin Siegrist made the reflex save to deny Keatings that Clark referred to and seconds before Clark grabbed the crucial second, Keatings missed a sitter of a back post header.
Clark’s goal proved to be the point of no return for Caley Thistle and a penalty from Lawrence Shankland after Liam Smith was brought down made it a stroll for the visitors in the final minutes.
“The game was in the balance at 1-0,” Clark admitted. “Anything can happen.
“When Butch slipped me in I just tried to make sure I hit the target and I was delighted when it hit the net. The goal came at a great time for us.
“After that goal we could relax a bit and play.
“Then we got the penalty. I gave it to Shanks because I’d already scored!”
It took “bottle” from his players to perform as they did, according to manager Robbie Neilson.
He said: “I was pleased. The first half was a competitive game, a good one for the neutral.
“But I thought in the second half we deserved to win the game on dominance of play and physicality in midfield. We stood up to it well.
“Everyone was asking questions externally after losing three away games.
“We spoke after the last defeat and said we had three games in a week, an opportunity to get nine points. The players earned the right to get nine points.
“It shows the bottle we’ve got – we’ve come to one of the hardest places in the league and got a 3-0 result.
“It shows what we’re capable of. We had 780 fans up today, backing us to the hilt, and the players have sent them down the road very, very happy.
“It is said we don’t have a great away record, but we’ve won three and lost three, winning all of them at home.
“When you’re at Dundee United you need to win every week. People forget very quickly what you’ve done.
“The stats show we’re a very strong team at home, but also a strong team away from home, which bodes well for next Friday.”
Caley Thistle boss John Robertson felt United’s “slicker” passing and movement allied to more “clinical” finishing decided the contest. But he also felt Shankland could have been red-carded in the first half for a flying elbow on Jamie McCart.
“I don’t blame the referee,” he said. “We’ve seen it on video and the referee is blindsided with no chances of seeing it.
“However, his assistant is standing 10 yards away and should have seen a clear elbow.
“It’s a tangle and maybe Lawrence is trying to free himself but accidental or not he has caught him with his elbow.”
Neilson said: “What I think has happened is Shanks was away to flick it around the corner and the guy has grabbed him. He’s just tried to barge him back out of the way.
“The linesman was 10 yards away and the ref 15 yards away. The swarming of the referee blows everything out of proportion.”