Jim Goodwin has urged his Dundee United stars to lap up the thrill of a mouth-watering Championship race against Raith Rovers.
The free-flowing Fifers roared to the summit of the second tier on Friday night, battling from behind to defeat Partick Thistle 4-3 at Stark’s Park. It was their sixth successive victory in all competitions.
They’ve got to embrace this situation and not be anxious about it.
However, United responded in professional – if unspectacular – fashion at Tannadice, reclaiming top spot courtesy of Kai Fotheringham’s scrappy winner against Ayr United.
“Raith Rovers are having a fantastic season but our focus isn’t on Raith Rovers,” emphasised the United gaffer.
“I’ve said that to the players: they’ve got to embrace this situation and not be anxious about it.
“It’s about enjoying the excitement of being in a title race and competing with Raith. We’ve got to focus on the job we do, and let the noise build up outside – whether in the media or among the fans.
Goodwin: We were the better team throughout
Fotheringham’s goal – his 10th of the campaign – came just after the first audible murmurs of discontent from the stands.
Louis Moult had already seen a goal disallowed, while Ross Docherty, Fotheringham and Chris Mochrie all missed passable opportunities.
“It gets frustrating, the longer the game goes on,” acknowledged Goodwin. “But I’ve got to credit the players because the conditions were difficult. The pitch was cutting up and starting to get heavier as the afternoon went on.
“I felt one goal was going to decide it and I’m delighted we were able to get it. I think the result was a fair one and we were the better team throughout.”
“Heat of the moment”
Meanwhile, Goodwin conceded that Dave Bowman’s passion for United may have “got the better of him” as he explained the circumstances around the first-team coach’s dismissal.
Bowman was sent to the stand by referee Nick Walsh shortly before the hosts broke the deadlock.
Asked what had irked the Tannadice legend, Goodwin laughed: “Well, it doesn’t take much, as people probably know!”
“No, there was a decision that went against us,” he added. “The ball hit off an Ayr United player in the box and, if it’s not a penalty (for handball), then it’s a corner-kick.
“Dave made his thoughts clear to the linesman, who wasn’t too pleased. It means a lot to him, and it was just heat of the moment stuff. That passion and emotion has maybe got the better of him.”