Dundee United striker Steven Fletcher explains why he celebrated goal against Hibs

Steven Fletcher found the net 43 times in his five-year stint at Hibs, so when he hit the half-century of Scottish league goals on Sunday, to help secure victory over his former club, he wasn’t looking to rub it in.
Dundee United's Steven Fletcher celebrates after making it 1-0 against Hibs.Dundee United's Steven Fletcher celebrates after making it 1-0 against Hibs.
Dundee United's Steven Fletcher celebrates after making it 1-0 against Hibs.

But rather than quash his celebrations as a nod of respect, the Dundee United striker said that instincts took over. “That’s the first time I’ve scored against Hibs,” said the 36-year-old former Scotland forward, who spent the majority of his career playing in England, playing for Burnley, Wolves, Sunderland, Sheffield Wednesday and Stoke before being enticed north of the border at the start of this season. “I know some people don’t celebrate [against their ex employers] but, with what that result meant to us as a group, the emotions just take over. We need to pick up points. Hopefully, [that win] is an important one. My job is to go out there and score as many goals as possible and from now on, I’ll keep trying to plug away and get a few.”

Having headed home the opening goal, after Hibs equalised he then won the late penalty which colleague Jamie McGrath coolly dispatched past Easter Roa keeper David Marshall to give the Tannadice hosts their first league win since January 2 and sustain their hopes of escaping relegation. “I missed a sitter and Immi [Niskanen] missed a chance. 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 [Will Fish] would take a swing [and give away the penalty]. I knew he was going to kick me. Bit of experience there!”

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But the fact that they were able to keep battling right up until the 90th minute was a reflection of the work carried out by Jim Goodwin since he took the helm just over a month ago. “It was a long time coming but I think we showed good character, especially when they got the goal back. In weeks gone by, we have gone under, retreated inside ourselves and not shown our quality. But, 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. When the gaffer came in, he said: “Listen, you aren’t fit enough”. We knew that. He’s come in and given us a mini pre-season. The boys bought into it straight away, which is half the battle.”

Having watched second-bottom Ross County pull away from them on the Saturday with a win, three points against Hibs saw the deficit return to two points with plenty still to play for. “I know pressure will always be out there, but we can’t think about that. We need to take care of the results we can affect — like we did on Sunday. It’s a massive statement but we’ll take every game as it comes. Hopefully the tide has turned and we can go on a run, picking up results.”