There is an innocence to Johnny Russell which is only betrayed when he strays on to a football pitch.

Polite and endearing to speak to, the Dundee United forward comes across as a well-rounded character but it is likely that there are more than a few defenders in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League who might just disagree.

He addressed United's win over Ross County on Saturday with a cheeky grin. That same look must haunt those charged with subduing the striker over the course of a season.

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Against County his overall contribution to his side's victory was impressive even before you consider that Russell seized on a mistake to draw United level before Stuart Armstrong struck the winner.

United's full menace lies in the diversity of talent at their disposal; Jon Daly is a sturdy foil for Russell in attack, while Armstrong offers dynamism on the right and Gary Mackay-Steven brings subtle trickery on the left. Russell tends to seize prominence but he is ably supported.

The rest of the league be warned: on Saturday, United succeeded in territory where the likes of Celtic, Hibernian and Aberdeen have failed this season. There was enough to suggest that United will not be made to languish for too long in seventh place.

For Russell, who countered Iain Vigurs' opener, there was modesty in the appraisal of his own contribution and just a hint of concern at the familiar manner of the victory. It was the third time in a month his side had had to overturn a disadvantage to glean a result.

"We managed to come from behind and turn it around," he said. "That has been the story all too often for us. For some reason we are not working as a team to stop the opposition scoring first – we cause some of the goals ourselves.

"It was certainly great character from the boys but we'd rather go in front in matches, rather than always have to fight back. There was talk [of United's prospects for the league campaign] at the start of the season and we want to be up there. Our results haven't been good enough to put us up there."

Despite an impressive start to the season County have been unable to pull their attention away from the lower reaches of the league table. They have only won once in their last five matches and even his strike left Vigurs with little comfort.

"Personally it's good to get a goal, but unfortunately we lost today," Vigurs said. "If we score goals we're going to have to shut teams out."