A late Jamie McGrath penalty secured Jim Goodwin’s first win as Dundee United boss, as the hosts defeated Hibernian 2-1 at Tannadice in a result that keeps United in touch with 11th place Ross County at the bottom of the cinch Premiership.
Steven Fletcher nodded his side into the lead with a seventh minute header, before Lee Johnson’s away side equalised with 20 minutes lefts through a thunderous Mykola Kuharevich strike.
Both Fletcher and substitute Ilmari Niskanen blazed chances over the bar for the Dundee outfit, whilst Hibs forward Elie Youan pulled a shot wide when he looked certain to send all three points back to Edinburgh.
It was captain Fletcher who was to be involved again before the end however, winning a penalty under the challenge of Will Fish minutes from the end, allowing Jamie McGrath the chance to take a crucial win for his side.
Hibs almost took an early lead when Kevin Nisbet found himself with a golden chance after a minute. Harry McKirdy fired a ball across the box which somehow bounced awkwardly off the front man as Mark Birighitti denied an almost certain goal from point blank range.
As Hibs’ centre forward passed up an early opportunity, his veteran counterpart at the other end of the pitch made no mistake. Aziz Behich delivered a tantalizing ball to the penalty spot where Fletcher angled a powerful header into the bottom corner beyond David Marshall, to give the league’s basement side a huge advantage.
With former managerial legend Ivan Golak in attendance in the stands, Goodwin’s men maintained a solid performance throughout the second half; despite having less of the ball they were barely troubled by the visitors in the first hour.
Substitute Ilmari Niskanen passed up a chance with 2o minutes remaining, volleying high over the bar and his side were duly punished seconds later when Hibs grabbed an equaliser somewhat against the run of play.
Charlie Mulgrew found himself caught under a cross from Marijan Cabraja, allowing the ball to drop at the feet of Mykola Kuharevich who blasted his effort in off the underside of the bar to level the tie.
The visitors were in the ascendency in the closing stages, with Kevin Nisbet crashing a free kick off the cross bar as the match hurtled towards a finale.
With two minutes left of the 90 minutes however, the hosts were gifted the opportunity to snatch all three points from the spot when Will Fish fouled Fletcher in the area. Jamie McGrath stepped up and proved he was the coolest man in Tannadice as he rolled his spot kick past Birighitti to deliver a vital win in United’s battle against the drop.