Nicky Clark has revealed the Dundee United players were fully aware at half-time on Saturday that the next 45 minutes could prove to be a pivotal point in their season.
The Tangerines – watched by new owner Mark Ogren sitting in the stands – had struggled to break down a Dunfermline side who were being managed by Stevie Crawford for the first time since he took over from Allan Johnston last week.
The game was deadlocked at 0-0 but at the break the home players knew that with league leaders Ross County losing to Queen of the South and second-top Ayr only drawing with Inverness in a game they would ultimately go on to lose, it was a perfect opportunity to close the points gap.
And United did just that with Clark proving to be the hero as he came off the bench to net what proved to be the only goal of the game late on to take the Tangerines to within three points of the Staggies at the top of the table.
The 27-year-old said: “We knew at half-time that Ross County were losing and Ayr were drawing so we were aware it was massive for us to get the three points and luckily enough we did.
“The league is really tight but we just need to concentrate on our own performances and results and then check to see how they have done.
“First and foremost we need to go out, put the graft in and make sure we pick up three points.”
When asked if he was surprised to see County stuttering, Clark said: “No, not really. This is a hard league and everybody beats everybody else.
“We have slipped up a lot this season as well so it is whoever grabs the bull by the horns and goes on a run which can make all the difference.”
Clark’s manager Robbie Neilson was delighted his side had taken all three points ahead of a meeting with Ogren to discuss potential signing business during this transfer window.
Neilson said: “If you are going to win titles, sometimes you need to grind it out and we did that today.
“The three points were very important for us but for the new owner coming over, he could see what we need as well.
“I will have a conversation about targets and what we are trying to do with the club in this window.
“It is good to get the three points but also good that he can see there is still a lot of work to do here.”