Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara insists his side are loving their recent run of fine form – but would never get carried away.
Dundee United 1-0 Ross County
Scorer: Dundee United - Mackay-Steven (69)
Referee: I Brines
United are now sitting second top in the Scottish Premiership thanks to their hard-fought 1-0 victory over Ross County on Saturday, when Gary Mackay- Steven’s 69th-minute winner gave them their latest victory.
McNamara’s side have now chalked up six straight wins and are the undoubted form team in the country heading into the festive period, which includes a bumper clash with north-east rivals Aberdeen at Tannadice on New Year’s Day.
“We’re delighted with the way things are going,” said the United manager. “You always hope to play good football and get results at the same time, which is what we’re striving to do.
“County came here and put bodies behind the ball but we got our just rewards in the end. We always encourage the boys to play to their strengths, which is what they’re good at.
“We’ve had a lot of hard games recently but it’s just about taking one at a time and trying to get the three points. We’re not looking too far ahead and the boys are all just focused on the next game.”
United midfielder John Rankin echoed the thoughts of his manager as the side look to try to cement second place. Rankin said: “It’s still early days and we haven’t done anything yet.
“But we’ve every right to be confident with the way we are playing right now. It’s really enjoyable to be part of it and, when teams come and sit back, it’s a sign of respect. We’re getting used to it and it is up to us to break them down and show we can handle that.”
United were strong favourites to continue their purple patch as they faced a Ross County team which had taken only one point from their previous six league outings.
And the Taysiders began as though they meant business, creating their first chance in seven minutes when Ryan Gauld released Stuart Armstrong who was about to pull the trigger before former Tannadice defender Brian McLean got back to intercept with a sliding challenge.
The hosts had another opportunity in the 12th minute when they cut the County defence apart after John Rankin’s threaded pass sent full-back Andrew Robertson free down the left. Robertson then squared the ball for Brian Graham but, as the big striker rolled the ball into the net, the flag went up for offside to deny United the opener.
At the start of the second-half, the hosts put together another decent move which saw Mackay-Steven’s pass being left by Paul Paton for the onrushing Rankin. Rankin had only one intention, which was to shoot, and he left fly from 25 yards, only to see his effort go just over the bar.
It was all United at this stage and they did not have too much longer to wait until they finally went ahead in the 69th minute. Nadir Ciftci spread the ball out to Armstrong who, in turn, crossed for Mackay-Steven who finished well from 12-yards. United had to make do with one goal this week but still picked up three points at full time.
County manager Derek Adams felt his side competed well for long spells but urged them to move on and try to end their eight-game league run without a win.
Adams said: “It’s about trying to take the positives from this game into the next one.
“Dundee United are very much on form just now so we just had to try and compete with them. I thought the lads did that pretty well and all we have to concentrate on is our main aim, which is staying in the SPFL.”