1 - 1
League (Promotion Playoff 1st Leg)
|Andy Lyons (20)||
Christian Dailly (86)
Tommy Smith for Derek McWilliams (66)
Tommy Turner for Billy MacDonald (83)
Gary McSwegan for Ray McKinnon (49)
Owen Coyle for Andy McLaren (80)
|Andy Lyons (45)||None.|
Jim McCluskey (Stewarton) (Referee)
For United's first and hopefully last venture into the unchartered waters of the play-offs, Manager Billy Kirkwood made three changes. Mark Perry as expected was ruled out because of injury and with Maurice Malpas suspended, there was a new full-back pairing in the form of Rab Shannon and Jamie McQuilken. Ray McKinnon returned in midfield with Owen Coyle dropping down to the bench.
The United supporters equalled the home support in the 10,000 plus crowd for this match on which so must rested. Nerves were apparent in United's early play as Thistle forced the pace. First action for either keeper came after 12 minutes when Ally Maxwell palmed over a pot-shot from lan Cameron from 12 yards.
Thistle's domination of those early stages brought tangible reward eight minutes later, Steven Pressley fouled McDonald in the air and Andy Lyons stepped up to curl a 30 yard free-kick at great pace well beyond the reach of Ally Maxwell. Half an hour had elapsed before United posed a threat in front of goal, but it almost brought an equaliser, Craig Brewster's corner was only cleared as far as Dave Bowman and his well struck low drive was diverted inches wide by Robbie Winters.
There were some encouraging signs in the run up to the interval as United at last took a grip on proceedings. This certainly spilled over into the second period with United now well in command. Though worryingly chances came and went. Gary McSwegan who had replaced Ray McKinnon soon after the interval shot wide after running on to a through header from Robbie Winters. Walker then blocked a volley from Craig Brewster as the chances came thick and fast.
With 25 minutes left Craig Brewster turned beautifully only to see his effort come back off the bar and a surprised and relieved Walker collected the rebound. At this point United supporters must have felt it wasn't going to be their day! Thistle almost had the temerity to snatch a second, but Ally Maxwell saved first from McDonald and then Cameron as the home side made a rare break up field.
Walker again rescued Thistle in palming away a header from Craig Brewster after Robbie Winters had supplied the cross from the right. Less than five minutes remained when Dave Bowman crossed for Christian Dailly to majestically head the equaliser into the top right-hand corner of Walker's net. The joy in the Tannadice ranks was mirrored by the dejection of the homsters. Mind you it might have all been different had Rod McDonald scored when a Steven Pressley clearance bounced off Dave Bowman and obligingly into the Thistle man's path. Fortunately Ally Maxwell came to the rescue. Having said that, Owen Coyle had an opening, but clipped the ball over as the first leg of what was more like a one-off cup tie came to an exciting conclusion.
CLUB COMMENT - Had it not been for Nicky Walker, we might have come away with a win." - BILLY KIRKWOOD, MANAGER..
|Ally Maxwell (GK)||31||42||-||42||-|
|Owen Coyle (sub)||29||33||8||33||8|
|Gary McSwegan (sub)||25||30||17||30||17|