0 - 3
European Cup (1st Round 1st Leg)
John Reilly (2)
Eamonn Bannon (30)
Derek Stark (66)
Hamish McAlpine .1
Derek Stark .2
Billy Kirkwood .2
Richard Gough .4
Paul Hegarty .5
Dave Narey .6
Eamonn Bannon .7
Ralph Milne .8
John Reilly .9
John Holt .10
Davie Dodds .11
John Clark .12
Alex Taylor .14
|Mario Grech for Jesmond Ciantar (61)||
Alex Taylor for John Reilly (63)
John Clark for Davie Dodds (85)
Sinasi Berisa (Yugoslavia) (Referee)
For all the experience United have acquired on the European stage, there would still have been some nerves amongst the players as they prepared for the club’s debut fixture in the European Cup against Maltese champions Hamrun Spartans. United’s tie was the second game of the day at the Ta Qali National Stadium, with Rangers’s match against Valletta taking place earlier in the afternoon. Jim McLean picked the same starting eleven that defeated Dundee eleven days ago with Billy Kirkwood being rewarded for his goal against Hibs with a start at the expense of Maurice Malpas.
Any nerves were quickly soothed when John Reilly continued his tremendous run of form by putting the Tangerines ahead after just two minutes. Eammon Bannon found room on the left hand side to fire in a low cross that the Hamrun defence struggled to clear and Reilly was quickest to react, prodding the ball home through a forest of legs to give United the lead. The youngster who has been ably deputising for the injured Paul Sturrock, has now scored five goals this season. Eamonn Bannon then got his name on the scoresheet on 33 minutes. Davie Dodds had dropped deep to play Ralph Milne in behind his marker down the right hand side where he crossed into the box for Bannon to meet it with a diving header past the ‘keeper, Charles Brincat.
In the second half, United kept Hamrun at arms length. The home side’s robust approach to tackling, allied to the referee’s lenient view of it would have concerned McLean with a Tayside derby to prepare for on Saturday, but his side were able to increase the pressure on the Spartans goal when required. Five minutes after the restart, Reilly should have claimed his third brace of the season, when Bannon found him at the far post, but he rushed his shot and sliced it wide when it seemed easier to score. Bannon himself hit the post a couple of seconds later with a shot from outside the box that beat Brincat all ends up. With just over twenty minutes remaining, United claimed their third goal of the evening. Spartans defence once again was unable to deal effectively with a ball in the box, a Bannon corner was cleared only as far as Derek Stark, who was able to smash the ball into net for his second goal of the season. A feature of United’s play this early in the season has been its ability to share goals around the squad, with only goalkeeper Hamish McAlpine and Dave Narey in the starting eleven failing to find the net after eight games in all competitions. Alex Taylor and teenager John Clark were brought on to help United see out the game and pick up some invaluable European experience.
The venue may have been lacking the glamour of previous European away days like the Camp Nou or Stade Louis II, but the history books will show Dundee United’s first ever match in the European Cup ended in a comfortable 3-0 win. Perhaps one could forgive manager Jim McLean for allowing himself to contemplate, for just a moment, tougher, more exciting challenges ahead in Europe’s premier club tournament.
Match report written by Stewart Todd
|Hamish McAlpine (GK)||35||8||-||587||3|
|Alex Taylor (sub)||21||6||2||11||2|
|John Clark (sub)||18||4||-||7||-|
No league table has been added for this season.