The Hearts bench beckoned Stephen Humphrys to head for the corner flag.

With seconds left and a slender 2-1 advantage over Dundee United to protect, it would’ve been the logical thing to do, right? But the big striker had other ideas.

Instead, he opted to shrug off a few tangerine jerseys with ease before pinging the ball high over keeper Mark Birighitti and into the net from his own half. Tynecastle erupted, Robbie Neilson declared the goal of the season competition over, and Humphrys admitted he just did not fancy following those instructions from the sidelines.

“Did I mean it? Of course, I did,” the striker insisted. “I saw the keeper off his line, I had just sliced one out of play two minutes before – and I thought I’d better not do that again. So, I carried it forward a little bit.

“I could hear the bench shouting on me to go to the corner. But I thought: ‘I’ve just sprinted forward, I’ve just sprinted back, now I’m sprinting forward again … I don’t fancy going all the way to the corner flag.”

“I had a look at the keeper, thought I would try my luck. And it was one of them where, as soon as you hit it, you know straight away that it’s going in. 

“I just had a quick glance after their lad tried to foul me. As soon as I knew that I’d shaken him off, I had a look and just tried my luck. It is by far the best goal of my career, definitely.”

Doubly impressive was the on-loan Wigan forward’s composure. He initially picked the ball up at the edge of his own 18-yard box, and the cry from the stands was for him to get it launched up the pitch.

“Well I did launch it, to be fair - it just happened to go in the net,” Humphrys said. “I had a stinker in training yesterday, to be fair, and missed a few. I’d been ill for a couple of days, missed training and was just lying in bed. 

“Yesterday was a shock to the system but I guess I got all my bad ones out of the way. I told the manager that, anyway. I am right-footed, just to clear that up. So, yeah, I hit it with my weak foot!”

Humphrys has been an instant hit since his summer move up from Greater Manchester, and Hearts’ fans adaptation of Manfred Mann’s ‘Doo Wah Diddy’ can be heard even when the 25-year-old isn’t on the pitch. The feeling is certainly mutual, and Humphrys says hearing his name being chanted means more than supporters will know.

“I love the fans here,” he said. “Whether they know it or not, lads can here when there are songs being sung about them. Even today when I came on, I could hear my song being sung – and you can’t really describe the feeling, to be honest.

“I grew up singing footballers’ names when I was a kid. To have it happen to you is an indescribable feeling, really. 

“I don’t know all the words by heart. I know the tune. But I’m not going to sing it…”

It could become a terrace favourite on Gorgie beyond the end of this season if Neilson has his way. He has made it clear he wants to keep Humphrys, who has 18 months remaining on his Wigan contract, in Edinburgh for the long term. But the striker says that’s a matter for the end of the season.

“I love it here and I’ve made that pretty clear. I’ve got 18 months left at Wigan, a club close to my heart. But I’ve come here, dedicated myself to this club – and we’ll revisit it at the end of the season. 

“I’ve said previously I don’t know the Hearts stance on it, properly. I don’t know Wigan’s stance. All I can do is focus on trying to win more games here.

“I’m getting a lot from this move. I’ve been injured for a couple of months but I’d like to solidify my place in the starting XI. And just get as many goals and games under my belt as I can.”

Dundee United, meanwhile, refused to depart the capital feeling sorry for themselves. Liam Fox’s side remain rooted to the bottom of the Premiership, but were impressive for much of Saturday’s defeat, certainly in comparison to last Wednesday’s meek 1-0 loss to Kilmarnock. But loss of Ryan Edwards to a first-half red card eventually told on tiring legs after Steven Fletcher, who missed a penalty at Rugby Park, had scored a well-worked opener.

READ MORE: Robbie Neilson declares goal of the season debate over after Stephen Humphrys stunner

“We are never going to feel sorry for ourselves,” he said. “Wednesday night, we know that wasn’t us. We did not play well and the result showed. But we went down to 10 men on Saturday and then we were fighting against it.

“But we will never feel sorry for ourselves. We have players in the changing room that will pick players up — including myself. I’ll be onto the younger lads. They are a great bunch and they listen to you, which is important.

“We are not daft. We know the position we are in. First and foremost, we need to play well. We can’t look to nick a win here and there. We need to play good football because good football produces results.”