Gavin Gunning marked his return to the Dundee United side with two goals in the 3-1 defeat of Scottish Premiership opponents Motherwell.
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Ryan Dow opened the scoring at Tannadice, before Gunning - sidelined in recent weeks by a knee injury - netted either side of the interval.
Although John Sutton pulled a goal back from the penalty spot, United held on for the three points.
Jackie McNamara's side were the better team on the night and deserved to record a third successive win against Stuart McCall's men - who were a shadow of the side which has lit up the top-flight in recent weeks.
The hosts were first to threaten when they carved out a genuine scoring opportunity inside five minutes.
Keith Watson's cross from deep was met by midfielder John Rankin, who let fly but saw his effort go narrowly past Well goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen's far post.
United made the breakthrough in the 22nd minute after Shaun Hutchinson's attempted backpass from midway inside his own half fell well short. Dow wasted no time in picking up possession and homing in on goal, before steadying himself sufficiently to sweep a shot past Nielsen and into the far corner from 12 yards.
It was not until the end of the first half that the visitors were evident in an attacking sense, with Radoslaw Cierzniak being forced into his first save in 35 minutes.
Sutton caused some problems with his physical presence inside the United penalty area as he helped the ball onto Iain Vigurs.
Vigurs' point-blank shot with his left-foot looked netbound until Cierzniak instinctively palmed it away.
The home side increased their lead in simple fashion in the 42nd minute.
Dow's corner was head-flicked on by Nadir Ciftci and Gunning was lurking at the far post to stab the ball over the line.
It was richly deserved on the balance of play - although United did survive a scare a minute later when Gunning appeared to go through Iain Vigurs inside the box. However, referee Bobby Madden did not award a penalty.
Things were to get worse for the visitors at the start of the second half when they found themselves trailing further.
Vigurs brought down Ciftci 25 yards from goal and Gunning had only one thing on his mind as he tried his luck from 25 yards, and was fortunate to see his effort take a strong deflection off the Motherwell defensive wall before finding the far corner of Nielsen's net.
There appeared no way back for the Lanarkshire club but things changed somewhat when they were awarded a 56th minute penalty.
Ciftci was penalised for handball from James McFadden's free-kick and Sutton sent Cierzniak the wrong way from the spot to reduce the deficit to 3-1.
That goal served to give the visitors some fresh hope, although United had the chance to reinforce their lead on the hour mark but Armstrong could not keep his shot down from 12 yards.
The home defence came under some pressure towards the end, although Gary Mackay-Steven could have sealed things with 10 minutes remaining, only for Nielsen to foil his low shot from 10 yards.
But the hosts held out with plenty to spare to move to within seven points of second-placed Aberdeen.