Dundee United defender Mark Durnan admitted he got lucky as he helped rescue a point against Morton.
The 1-1 draw kept the Tangerines’ unbeaten home record intact but, more importantly, they stayed in second spot in the Championship – two points clear of both Falkirk and the Greenock men.
With the big one looming against Hibs at Tannadice a week on Friday, it would have boosted the confidence to have produced some free-flowing football and played Morton off the park.
It wasn’t to be, though, as they struggled to break down the visitors’ defence until Durnan got in the way of an attempted clearance from Morton captain Lee Kilday after an inswinging corner from the right by Scott Fraser.
The ball blasted into the big man and rebounded into the Morton net with just seven minutes to go.
That drew them level after Kilday had scored with a close-range-header at the back post six minutes before the break.
Durnan said: “No, I wouldn’t say it was the best goal of my career.
“It was a bit fortunate but they all count.
“To be honest, it just hit me.
“I tried to react a wee bit but it came off me and looped into the top corner of the net.
“I’m delighted to get a goal and it came at a vital time for us because we were trying to push on.”
Despite the sense of relief that swept around the stadium after the equaliser, United and their fans were still left a bit deflated at full-time.
Durnan admitted: “I’m actually disappointed with a draw because I thought we had enough chances to win the match.
“It is a good unbeaten run we are on at home but we want to win every match.
“It was disappointing to lose a goal from a setplay but I think we showed a lot of character in the second half.
“We didn’t start the game well but there was a reaction after the break and I thought we were going to get the winner but we didn’t.
“We had a few chances that I think the boys will be kicking themselves for missing.”
United will have a week and a bit to recover for their next match against the league leaders, who drew at home to Dunfermline on Saturday night.
That leaves the Easter Road side seven points ahead of Ray McKinnon’s men.
Durnan said: “It will be a big night.
“I am looking forward to the Hibs match and I’m sure the fans will be too.
“It is a vital one for us.
“We want to win every game but especially that one because it’s so important.”
The Morton game took a while to warm up and it was 11 minutes old before home keeper Cammy Bell had to dive to save a freekick from Ross Forbes.
United were getting forward but without really troubling Derek Gaston in the Ton goal.
The hosts woke up a bit on 24 minutes when Tony Andreu spun inside the box and tried to shoot as he fell to the floor but Gaston gathered easily.
A minute later, the Tannadice men came even closer when Nick van der Velden sent Thomas Mikkelsen clear but the Dane shot over the bar.
United were on top now and they almost took the lead on 29 minutes when Andreu fired a Fraser cutback over from eight yards.
However, on 39 minutes it was the Greenock men who edged ahead.
A corner was swung over from the right by Forbes and, with keeper Bell deciding not to come out to intercept, Kilday couldn’t believe his luck as he headed home at the back post.
United would have been level on 53 minutes had Fraser shown more composure with his finish.
Andreu managed to poke the ball across to Charlie Telfer, whose pass forward reached the feet of Fraser inside the box. It looked like a certain goal until the midfielder blasted over the bar from six yards.
Substitute Simon Murray was only on the pitch for a couple of minutes when he had a great opportunity to equalise after a knockdown by Mikkelsen but the shot – his first touch – was straight at Gaston.
The home crowd grew more and more frustrated when, on 80 minutes, Fraser tried his luck from the edge of the box but he fired it into the grass and it was an easy save for Gaston.
Three minutes later, though, they were level.
The goal followed a period of sustained pressure that led to a corner on the right, which was taken by Fraser.
When the ball came over Kilday tried to clear but it struck Durnan and spun back into the net.
It was a huge stroke of luck but the big man celebrated like it had been a 30-yard screamer.
United manager Ray McKinnon said: “Sometimes you need a bit of luck so we’ll take that goal.
“I must admit that we are disappointed not to have taken the three points.
“It was a horrible game in the first half.
“You could see what Morton has set their stall out to do and we fell into the trap.
“We really should have gone in at the break at nil-nil. When games are like that you really need to manage it.
“Instead, we lost a goal from a setpiece and that’s disappointing.
“I just felt, for a certain reason, that we put ourselves in a position in the first half where we weren’t going to win the game because people weren’t doing what we were telling them to do.
“We were better in the second and got forward.
“We posed more of a threat so I will give them some credit for salvaging that point.”