Jamie Gullan has had to wait for his first senior goal, but it came at the perfect time for Raith Rovers.
After 10 appearances without hitting the target, the on-loan Hibs forward broke his duck in Tuesday’s play-off semi-final first leg win over Forfar Athletic.
The crucial second half strike has given Rovers a 2-1 advantage heading to Station Park on Saturday as Gullan (inset) made the required impact after coming off the subs bench at half-time.
“It’s been a long time coming getting my first goal for Raith and my first in the professional game,” he said.
“I’m absolutely delighted because it came at a crucial time.
“It’s good to get the lead going into Saturday, which will be another tough game.
“We just need to keep it tight and see what happens.”
Gullan’s strike was an instinctive finish as he reacted sharply to a loose ball in the box after a Kevin Nisbet free-kick deflected off the Forfar wall.
“I didn’t have long to think about it at all,” he said. “It dropped so I’ve just tried to get any contact on it and thankfully it went through the defender’s legs and got the lucky side of the post.”
Gullan has scored freely for the Hibs reserves but he admitted that his search for a goal in a Raith jersey had become a weight around his shoulders.
“It’s a big relief,” he said.
“At the start I was happy just to get games and minutes, but once I settled down I wanted goals and assists.
“I was getting a bit frustrated with myself for not scoring because I felt I was getting into good positions and not finishing them.
“The manager was saying to me in training every day that I would’ve scored that if I was in a Hibs strip.
“It was getting to the point where I was going to wear one underneath!
“I’m glad that’s off my back and hopefully now there’s more to come.”
Hibs are closely monitoring Gullan’s form at Raith, and with four years left on his contract at Easter Road, he is hoping to make the breakthrough under new boss Paul Heckingbottom.
“I’m trying to impress Hibs and also trying to get Raith back to the Championship,” he said.
“There’s a scout at every game who reports back to the coaches, and they’ll tell me what I’m doing well, what I need to improve on and what they want from me.
“It’s good to know they’re still keeping tabs. I’ve not worked that long under the new gaffer so I just need to go back in pre-season, hopefully with good reports, and try to impress.”
Gullan is hoping to follow in the footsteps of youngsters such as Oli Shaw, Fraser Murray and Sean Mackie, who broke into the Hibs first team at a similar age.
“That gives me confidence that I can go and make the step up as well,” he said.
“Seeing them go on and do well really gives me a boost and shows if I work hard I can get to the first team.”