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Jim Goodwin insists Dundee United’s battling performance against Aberdeen has given him “hope and positivity” for the rest of the season.

The Tangerines had the better of the first half of Saturday night’s cinch Premiership encounter at Tannadice but fell behind to a Duk goal after the break.

United hit back thanks to a Jamie McGrath penalty but the Dons wrapped up the points with two further strikes from Ross McCrorie and sub Marley Watkins.

It was Goodwin’s first game in charge of United but he saw enough from his side in defeat against the club who sacked him at the end of January to believe they can lift themselves off the bottom of the table and beat the drop.

Goodwin, who revealed he was hit on the head by a coin thrown by Dons fans during the game, said: “For any professional sportsperson, the minimum requirement is maximum effort. I got that from the boys, right up to the end.

“I know people don’t like stats and the only stat that matters more often than not is the scoreline.

“That’s all people will talk about but we’ve had 24 attempts on goal and more possession.

“But the bottom line is we didn’t capitalise on the good opportunities we had and that’s the bit that’s hurting us most.

“I can’t be too hard on them. If I didn’t think they were trying or if I didn’t think there was a reaction to what we were asking, then you’d be really concerned.

“But we saw enough fight and determination to give me hope and positivity.”

Goodwin’s attention has already turned to Wednesday night’s trip to Livingston with United looking to close the four-point gap on the two sides immediately above them in the table, Kilmarnock and Ross County.

The 41-year-old added: “This is the game in hand that gets us back on an even keel in terms of games played.

“It’s another difficult game. We’ve got some decisions to make with Wednesday coming round pretty quickly.

“We’ll assess the squad and see what it looks like. We’re missing one or two through injury.”

Barry Robson took over as interim Aberdeen boss after Goodwin’s sacking and the win at Tannadice was his third victory in five games with the Dons now up to fifth.

And the 44-year-old insists there is even more to come from his players.

Robson said: “For me, I saw it in their eyes – I have seen it in training recently too – that they really want to go to war for you.

“They want to go to war for their club. At this stage of the season the way the pitches are, they have managed to do that.

“But listen, we will get better and better.”