Craig Wighton was delighted to come back to haunt Dundee United as he brushed off his Tannadice taunts.
The former Dundee striker will, of course, forever be remembered as the player who scored the winning goal in the so-called “Doon Derby” at Dens Park that helped relegate the Tangerines in 2016.
The now Hearts forward proved to be United’s nemesis again on Saturday as his 26th-minute goal for loan club Arbroath wrecked their unbeaten home league record and ended an unbeaten run in the Championship that stretched all the way back to October.
It was an enjoyable afternoon for Wighton, to say the least, as the Lichties recorded their finest result of an already fantastic season.
The win moved the Angus men up into fifth spot – one place ahead of the Dark Blues.
The victory was made all the sweeter for the striker because of the verbal volleys he received from some home supporters.
Wighton said: “I was getting a bit of stick during the warm-up so it was nice to shut them up.
“It was the usual stuff that you would expect like: ‘You have found your level.’
“It came back to haunt them a wee bit so happy days!
“I have quite a lot of messages on my phone and I have not managed to get through them all yet. I will sit and do that later on.
“Obviously, my family are all Dundee fans so it will be a nice moment for them as well.
“To get the three points is brilliant.
“We knew United had weaknesses and we thoroughly deserved it.
“They are so far ahead and that means they are quite comfy up there – maybe that was a factor.
“We knew, though, that if we got after them straight away and frustrated them that the crowd would turn and they did. It worked out perfectly for us.”
What turned out to be the winning goal arrived on 26 minutes.
It was a nice move that saw Colin Hamilton fire the ball towards United’s near post from the left.
It reached the alert Wighton and he steered the ball through home goalie Benjamin Siegrist’s legs with a clever flick of the boot from close range.
Wighton added: “I didn’t actually realise I had so much space, to be honest.
“It was a good ball in from Hammy and I managed to get across the front post and it went in.”
Given the connection to United’s city rivals, Wighton was asked about former club Dundee but all he is concentrating on is helping the Lichties finish above them.
“They seem to be struggling a bit at the moment and I want all of my former clubs to do well,” he said.
“To be honest, we at Arbroath should be looking to finish as high up the table as possible so I am not really too fussed about Dundee, to be honest.
“If we keep playing the way we are playing then hopefully we can finish above them.
“The aim is still to stay in the league as a part-time club but if we can produce performances like we did against United and the previous week against Partick then you never know.
“We will keep our feet on the ground and keep working away to secure safety first then take it from there.
“I have always kept an eye on Arbroath and I am not surprised the team have done so well this season.
“There is a really good squad and if you look at the last couple of matches you would not have thought they were a part-time team as everyone was busting a gut. The spirit we’ve got here will definitely help us for the run-in.”
Smiling as broadly as Wighton at full-time was Gayfield gaffer Dick Campbell, assistant Ian Campbell and coach Rab Douglas. They hugged each other and the players after the whistle finally blew following what seemed like an age of stoppage-time.
Ian took the place of his twin brother for the media duties and said: “It’s three marvellous points for us.
“Dundee United are a right good team and will probably win this league – I hope they do – but you’ve got to give a lot of credit to our players.
“It was a shutout at Tannadice and we’re really chuffed.
“The players’ attitude and teamwork was first class.”
United gaffer Robbie Neilson, meanwhile, felt all the damage was done before the break.
“I said at the start of the season that we were going to lose games and it is about how you respond to that,” stated Neilson.
“The last time we were beaten we went on a 13-game unbeaten run, winning nine on the bounce.
“You just need to react quickly to it.
“We have a game a week on Friday at Alloa so there is plenty of time to prepare and make sure we get back to winning ways.
“I think the first half lost us the game.
“We were nowhere near the levels we want to get at and gave away a very poor goal.
“Once you do that it’s an uphill battle against Arbroath, who are very well organised and had something to hang on to.”
United were also dealt an injury blow when striker Osman Sow, not long returned from a loan spell at Kilmarnock, suffered an ankle injury and was carried off on a stretcher.
He has the sympathy of his teammates, with midfielder Calum Butcher saying: “It didn’t look great.
“These things happen but it is disappointing for us because he was looking really good in training.
“He got a chance to get back into the side and he and Shanks (Lawrence Shankland) together would have been a top partnership.”