Dundee United manager Ray McKinnon last night praised his team for building on their Irn-Bru Cup win with victory over Ayr United.
The Tangerines took the lead through Simon Murray on 23 minutes at Tannadice but were pegged back by a Gary Harkins penalty five minutes into the second half.
That left the stage clear for defender Mark Durnan to blast home the winner on 79 minutes, much to the relief of the home crowd.
The hope was that Saturday’s victory over St Mirren in the cup final at Fir Park could prove a turning point in the Championship campaign after a bad run.
There were one or two scares against Ayr – Durnan and Stewart Murdoch both had blocks to prevent the Honest Men equalising in the dying seconds – but they held on for a result that moved them to within one point of both Falkirk and Morton.
McKinnon said: “It’s not an easy task to get the players lifted and motivated after Saturday’s game but, listen, they did well.
“They controlled the game for long periods.
“It was a big thing for us to win tonight.
“Ayr sat in during the first half and were deep. It was difficult to break a team down when it’s like that.
“The response was good in what was a tough match against a team that was fighting for everything.
“Overall, we are delighted.
“We did get a wee bit of luck right at the death there but sometimes you need that luck.
“We deserved to win and if anybody is saying we didn’t then it’s ridiculous.
“We were stretched and players like Tony Andreu and William Edjenguele are out on their feet having played every match for us almost.
“It is tough going for us just now but they showed desire and didn’t give up and I’m pleased about that.”
McKinnon, though, was unhappy that his players let the opposition back into the game, something of which they have been guilty a few times.
“We had another good response to get the winner after another self-inflicted wound,” he added.
“We, again, caused their goal.
“We have to stop giving teams lifelines.
“When you do that it means you have a battle on your hands and we don’t want that – we want to be controlling games.”
Asked about Durnan’s goal, McKinnon added: “He has scored a few now and t was about time he did that because he hasn’t been winning many headers recently!”