Dundee United striker Steven Fletcher credited recently-appointed manager Jim Goodwin with restoring their fitness and confidence after they ended their long run without a win.
Goodwin tasted victory at the fifth attempt since replacing Liam Fox when Jamie McGrath netted a last-minute penalty to earn a 2-1 victory over Hibernian at Tannadice on Sunday.
It was a first win in 12 cinch Premiership matches and cut United’s deficit back to two points following Ross County’s win over St Johnstone the previous day.
Fletcher had opened the scoring early on and United were relatively comfortable, but Hibs looked the likelier team to win following their 70th-minute equaliser and Kevin Nisbet hit the bar for the visitors before McGrath had the decisive say at the other end.
Fletcher said: “It was a long time coming and I think we showed good character on Sunday, especially when they got the goal back.
“In weeks gone by we have gone under, retreated inside ourselves and not shown our quality. We showed that character against Hibs.
“That’s down to the gaffer. He has come in and filled the boys with confidence in the weeks he’s been here. Our fitness levels and standards, everything is higher. That paid off on Sunday.
“The gaffer came in and said, ‘listen, you aren’t fit enough’. We knew that. He’s come in, given us a mini pre-season. It was good. The boys bought into it straight away, which is half the battle when a new manager is coming in.
“Jamie’s composure was unreal too.”
Although Fletcher headed United in front, the finale was redemption for the former Scotland striker given he had volleyed over from 12 yards early in the second period.
The former Hibs and Wolves striker won the penalty when he got in front of Will Fish as the defender attempted to clear.
“I missed a sitter and Immi (Ilmari Niskanen) missed a chance as well,” said the 36-year-old, whose team face Motherwell at Fir Park on Saturday. “Ian (Harkes) had a half-chance when he broke into the box as well.
“When you have those chances, you think to yourself ‘is it not going to be our day?’.
“We kept plugging away and, as soon as I saw the ball bounce in the box, my eyes lit up.
“I knew I could get a touch on it and that he (Fish) would take a swing. I knew he was going to kick me. Bit of experience there…”