A few minutes after the clock struck four at Falkirk, it looked like being a beautiful Saturday for Dundee United.
They had just scored through Cammy Smith to deservedly take the lead against the Bairns.
The Tangerines were also aware of the scoreline at Firhill, with relegation-threatened Partick Thistle two goals up on Championship leaders Ross County.
However, it all went horribly wrong for United as the Staggies staged a remarkable comeback to win 4-2, while Falkirk levelled six minutes from time through a headed goal from Ciaran McKenna to peg the Tannadice men back.
It was good day gone bad for the Tangerines, who fell five points behind the Dingwall men having played a game more than their promotion rivals
To add to the Tannadice side’s woes, they lost two central defenders – Frederic Frans (groin) and Rachid Bouhenna (head knock) — to bad injuries, although boss Robbie Neilson thinks they will be fine.
At times, United looked far superior to their hosts but couldn’t put the game to bed and were punished.
Neilson said: “It’s disappointing not to get the three points.
“I thought we had more than enough opportunities to win the game but didn’t do it.
“But it’s another point on the board.
“Nobody will go through the rest of the season winning every single game.
“All the teams in the league have strengthened massively, and you can see that with Falkirk’s results since January.
“We would like to have taken three points — I think we did enough to take three points — but we didn’t manage to get it over the line.
“We probably had at least two or three opportunities where we should have scored.
“We had a couple more where we didn’t have that final finish or final pass but it will come and if we create those opportunities in the next game (against Inverness at home tomorrow) I’m sure we’ll take them.
“We’ve still got to play Ross County twice and still got to play Ayr and other teams have got to go to Falkirk and other difficult venues.
“You just have to look at yourselves and keep getting points on the board and keep the run going as much as you can.
“There are 11 games to go and nobody is taking 33 points, believe me.
“When you don’t take the three you take the one point and you bounce back as quickly as possible and take the three points again.
“We’ve got a chance to do that on Tuesday night.”
The Tangerines had made three changes to the side that won down at Queen of the South.
Into the side came Mark Connolly, Calum Butcher and Smith. Out went Bouhenna, Morgaro Gomis and Paul McMullan.
There was another excellent away support backing the Tangerines and, on five minutes, United almost took the lead when Falkirk’s Jordan McGhee headed against his own bar before Pavol Safranko fired the rebound over.
There was an injury blow for defender Frans on 22 minutes, with the big Belgian staying on the ground after winning a challenge in the centre circle. Unfortunately, he had to be carried off and was replaced by Bouhenna.
The half-hour had been and gone before Falkirk had their first attempt on goal and even then the header from Davis Keillor Dunn didn’t trouble United goalie Benjamin Siegrist.
Ian McShane’s 40th-minute freekick for Falkirk from just outside the area required a fine save from Siegrist, who used a finger to push it over the bar.
The match was crying out for a goal and United got it just four minutes after the restart.
It was a beautifully-crafted counter, which was scored by Smith and made by full-back Jamie Robson, who worked a fabulous one-two with Safranko on the left before squaring the ball for his teammate to get a tap-in.
Just a couple of minutes later, Peter Pawlett blasted past the post after another good United break.
The Tannadice men lost another central defender on 68 minutes when sub Bouhenna suffered a head knock at a United corner and had to be replaced by Gomis. Butcher moved back to defence from midfield to cover.
They couldn’t hold out, though, and conceded an equaliser with just six minutes to go.
A freekick was played into the United box by McShane and Siegrist couldn’t get to it before McKenna, who nodded into the net off the post to make it 1-1.
Neilson was more irked by the concession of the setpiece in the first place rather than the keeper’s inability to deal with it.
He added: “I’m more disappointed we gave the freekick away.
“We won the bounce ball and then we decided the pull their man down.
“We spoke about it before the game, that Falkirk’s best opportunity to score against you is from freekicks and corners.
“With a few minutes to go, the ball’s going away from goal, we’ve got possession of it but we gave away the freekick.
“So that’s a learning curve for us.”