Dundee United’s crucial win over Kilmarnock displayed the capabilities the team possesses but hasn’t yet shown enough of.
They need to find that heady mix much more frequently.
Inconsistency bedevils all sides, but Liam Fox’s squad have suffered more than most.
However, the 4-0 win v Killie proves the squad have the tools to do the job – when their application and tactics are right.
Ryan Edwards and Ross Graham in the middle of defence were seldom troubled, but looked assured when danger threatened.
Dylan Levitt’s artistry and Arnaud Djoum’s tenacity, along with energetic legs around him, ensured midfield supremacy, and Steven Fletcher led the line with craft and guile, using all his experience to distract markers and make space for his teammates.
Without a failure on the night, United were succinct of movement, first to every loose ball and determined in the tackle.
Four separate scorers was also heartening.
Kilmarnock, who’d taken just one point from eight away games were very poor, but I’m a big believer that you can only play what’s in front of you and United played them off the park.
Liam Fox is a steady Eddie and knows football’s ups and downs too well to get carried away with one excellent performance.
Saturday’s game at Pittodrie before the World Cup break, against a team United have already beaten 4-0, is a great chance to prove they’ve found the form they’ve occasionally looked capable of but have too often failed to show.
“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”
The phrase is attributed to basketball coach Tim Notke, but it applies to football too.
I said here last week that Dundee had to win at Firhill or risk being left behind in the title race.
Gary Bowyer’s side took Notke’s mantra to heart in a battling second half performance to come from two goals down to win 3-2 – and are now just three points behind leaders Ayr.
It was a big win for a squad which, like United’s, has often proved to be less than the sum of its parts.
The Thistle keeper wasn’t clever with either Zach Robinsons first headed goal, which he flapped at, or Cammy Kerr’s edge of the box curler, which went through him as though he was Casper the friendly ghost.
In between those, he was marooned on his line as Ryan Sweeney prodded home in what the late Arthur Montford would have labelled ‘a stramash’.
The nature of the goals is irrelevant though.
What counts in a league where four points separate the top six are grit, guts, desire and determination.
Without that, all the talent in the world counts for little.
The Championship title won’t be won anytime soon, but it can be lost very quickly.
Dundee’s win in Glasgow showed their appetite to stay the course.
When the Jags went down to ten men, Dundee put the boot on their throat with Kerr’s vital winning goal.
That’s the killer instinct needed – and coming fittingly from a great competitor who bleeds dark blue and wears the shirt with pride.