Dundee UNITED boss Peter Houston has conceded that he must shoulder some of the responsibility for Johnny Russell’s indifferent form this season.
The 21-year-old striker impressed when bursting on to the scene last season, scoring against both halves of the Old Firm, and many at Tannadice believed he would be the natural successor to David Goodwillie who departed to join Blackburn in the summer.
Prior to Saturday’s game against Caley Thistle, however, Russell had only scored three goals this season, prompting United manager Houston to put him on the substitutes’ bench for United’s trip to the Highlands.
But with United trailing 2-0 to Inverness goals by Jonny Hayes after just 69 seconds and Billy McKay’s strike two minutes into the second half, Houston introduced Russell.
And the Scotland Under-21 international was on the scoresheet in the 51st minute to give the visitors hope, before a Roman Golobart own goal after 64 minutes and another Russell effort 12 minutes from time completed a sensational comeback by United.
Caley Thistle finished the game with ten men, David Davis red-carded for two cautions with seven minutes remaining.
Houston was delighted with the turnaround and paid tribute to the performance of substitute Russell. He said: “He certainly made an impact and I was delighted for him.
“Young players can often find their second season more difficult than their first season, but he showed a positive reaction to being put on the bench by coming on and making a huge difference.
“He was magnificent for us last season and I’ve maybe not helped by playing him in a number of different positions during this season. However, I do see him as going on to become a striker eventually.”
For Inverness boss Terry Butcher, who lost Chris Hogg to what looks like a knee injury that will cut short his season, the game ranked up there with some of his worst experiences in football.
He said: “It’s hard to believe we’ve lost 3-2. I’ve certainly not had many worse days than this.”