PAVOL SAFRANKO insists his Dundee United future is out of his hands as he strives to score the goals that could take the Tannadice team back to the Premiership.

The Slovak predator, on-loan from Danish Superliga club Aalborg, produced a moment of class worthy of a grander stage with the opening goal in a victory that sealed second place in the Championship.

Robbie Neilson’s side now face a maximum of four play-off matches, with an opening two-leg contest against either Ayr United or Saturday’s beaten hosts Inverness before the w2inners square up to the second bottom top-flight team.

For Safranko, who endured a mostly barren February and March, his fine strike was a 14th of a campaign where he has more than endeared himself to the United faithful.

HeraldScotland: Jordan White and Pavol Safranko battle for the ballJordan White and Pavol Safranko battle for the ball

READ MORE: Livid Neil Lennon warns his Celtic players "you're not on holiday yet" after Hibernian draw

The Tangerines and their US owners are understood to be very keen to see the 24-year-old make his stay on Tayside permanent, promotion or not, but Safranko played it cool as the dust settled in Inverness on Saturday evening.

After a solid victory spiked with controversy from the hosts’ perspective, Safranko addressed queries on his future but stressed: “Listen, it is not on me. I just do my best on the pitch and it’s a question for my [agents] and for Aalborg.

“I’m happy here and we’ll see what happens after the season is decided.”

Just how the remainder of the season pans out remains to be seen.

United will certainly hold one advantage over the two teams below them in the play-offs – squad size. For both Ayr and Inverness, fatigue could an issue among relatively small squads, while United’s depth offers plenty scope for rest and recuperation.

The win kept Ross County’s official title party on hold, but it would take an incredible set of circumstances to reverse the Dingwall club’s points and goal difference advantage.

There was certainly a jaded look to the hosts, less after Safranko’s moment of brilliance than after referee Greg Aitken failed to spot Paul McMullan’s handball in the lead-up to the crucial second.

Reflecting on his third goal in three games, Safranko said: “I just tried to hit the ball the best I could and it went in. I think last week’s was better – that was a very nice goal.

“But for this one, it was good set-up play from Nicky (Clark) and Peter (Pawlett) – a nice combination – and my finish was just the last part of the perfect move.

“We just want to stay focused because now we know the play-offs come and we need to be ready for it, like we were in the last two games. We will prepare well.

“I didn’t see Ayr United playing Ross County, but Ayr are a good team. We’re a big club so, hopefully, we can do the best for our club at this point in the season – and win promotion.

“I don’t know about rest and momentum – just play. Win the games.

“I don’t think too much about anything else. We just need to play the games and try to show our best. Next week is another game.

“I don’t think we need to do too much different in the last few matches or worry much about the tactics of rest and play – just continue to do what we do and I think we will do a good job.”

Even in defeat, Caley Thistle clinched their play-off spot against Ayr United, with only the order of home and away fixtures now to be settled for the quarter-final tie.

But the hosts were furious at the circumstances surrounding a clear handball by McMullan ahead of the crucial second goal and Brad Mckay’s late red card.

In truth, there wasn’t a huge Amount in the game with both sides claiming a clutch of chances.

But the decisive moments came either side of half-time with Pawlett’s flick-on allowing Safranko to swerve a lovely left-foot volley into the left corner of the net from 15 yards.

Just five minutes into the second period, though, United went two up.

The Caley Thistle defence were guilty of stopping to claim for handball as Paul McMullan waltzed a path through the penalty area and tucked away at close range.

Home anger only grew as late on as Brad Mckay took two yellow cards within seconds after going down in the penalty area under Jamie Robson’s attentions.

Booked initially for diving, referee Aitken seemed to take exception to the defender’s reaction and flashed a red card.

Defeat will matter little for the hosts if they can muster six big results in the play-offs, with midfielder Joe Chalmers wearied but optimistic.

HeraldScotland: Joe Chalmers and Ian Harkes try to get a foot on the ballJoe Chalmers and Ian Harkes try to get a foot on the ball

READ MORE: Rangers agree deal for Motherwell forward Jake Hastie

The former Celtic and Motherwell man said: “We’re obviously disappointed with the result, but it was a real moment of quality for the opening goal.

“In the second half, the decision went against us for their second goal and that kind of sucked the life out of us.

“From there on, I think we were well-beaten.

“But obviously, in the big picture, the job of getting to the play-offs is over the line now. We’ve managed to show some decent form over the last couple of months to pull away.

“It has been a good effort from the whole team. With a few injuries and a small squad, it hasn’t been easy.

“It is now about trying to get the balance of keeping up that momentum while freshening things and giving certain boys a deserved chance.

“We know it is an achievement getting to the play-offs but it basically starts afresh.

 “Results have been mixed so I don’t think there is going to be much between any of the teams in the play-offs.

“It is going to be a real battle, but it is one we’ll be up for.”