JOHN Hughes admits his side scored goals at the “right time” during their 3-2 win at Sheffield United – and has hailed two-goal hero Steve Howard.
With just five minutes on the clock the veteran striker stole between two home defenders to head beyond George Long.
Michael Doyle levelled going into half-time but within 10 minutes of the restart Ritchie Humphreys had restored the lead.
And, with 18 minutes remaining, Howard got on the end of a James Poole cross to steer another header over Long.
Harry Maguire did pull one back in stoppage time but it was all too late, the points belonged to a delighted Hughes.
“We scored the goals at the right time and it gave us something to hang on to,” said the Scot.
“We had to make sure that we get our tactics and team shape right and that was certainly the case.
“The likes of Sam Collins and Peter Hartley were very good at the back but we were excellent to a man.
“We got the substitutes right as well and we knew that would be important.”
And Howard, moments before his crucial second, could well have been withdrawn himself.
“We looked to Stevie to see if he was okay and he held his hand up towards us – we didn’t know whether he meant five minutes or I’m okay,” laughed Hughes.
“He’s a big focal point for us to play towards, but we need those legs around him such as Charlie Wyke and James Poole.
“I’m delighted for him that he got his reward with two goals.
“I was always going to keep faith with Steve.
“When the ball comes in that box you need someone to go and head it and Steve has been different class since I came to the club.
“But we need to look after him.
“We have to nurse him through it.”