The 53rd minute save from Martin Boyle was his seventh spot-kick stop of this season and proved a pivotal moment in the top of the table tussle.
“Cammy is unbelievable, you never expect him to keep doing it because law of averages means someone is going to score. But I did have a feeling he might do it tonight,” said his delighted boss. “I was standing thinking ‘there’s every chance he’ll save it here’. Cammy saved their penalty and we scored our penalty, that’s what it came down to in the end. It was a good, hard-fought win against an excellent team.”
Having foiled Neil Lennon’s side, United then secured all three points with a penalty conversion at the other end, the impressive Tony Andreu sending Ofir Marciano the wrong way.
“I didn’t think we were at our best in the first half,” admitted the Easter Road gaffer, “but in the second half we were in the ascendancy and the game hinged on two penalties . If we had scored at that time, we were well on top in the game and we had a few chances after that. At 0-0 anything can happen. I didn’t think we deserved to lose the game so it’s a sore one.”
There was a bit of in-house bickering as Boyle and fellow striker Grant Holt argued over who should take the spot-kick and while the former got his way in the end he must have wished he had let it go, as Bell saved his effort.
“Boyle was designated last week so he was on them,” revealed Lennon. “Grant missed the last one. Whether it put Martin off, I don’t know, but he has been hitting them alright in the week. But he didn’t hit it well enough tonight. That one got away.”
It means that the sides are now level on points with only six goals separating them at the top but McKinnon is not getting carried away.
““We’re delighted to be up there joint top of the league now but nothing is won in December. I said before the game I didn’t think this was a defining game because there’s so far to go still. We need to bring players in in January to keep the team moving along the way we want it to go. But tonight we’re delighted.”