2 - 2
League Cup (4th Round)
Johnny Russell (73)
Jon Daly (96)
Farid El Alagui (70)
Ally Graham (118)
Lauri Dalla Valle
Farid El Alagui
Johnny Russell for Lauri Dalla Valle (56)
Stuart Armstrong for Scott Robertson (94)
Dale Fulton for Blair Alston (69)
Liam Dick for Kieran Duffie (75)
Ally Graham for Jay Fulton (100)
Barry Douglas (90)
Jon Daly (93)
Kieran Duffie (35)
Dale Fulton (98)
Calum Murray (Referee)
Having overcome Airdrie in the previous round, United were drawn against First Division Falkirk at Tannadice in the League Cup Quarter Final. Peter Houston stuck with the same side that had drawn 0-0 at home to St Johnstone at the weekend with out of sorts Johnny Russell left once again on the bench.
Unsurprisingly United had the better of the chances in the first half against their lower league opposition and after only 11 minutes, Scott Robertson headed just wide of the target. However Falkirk did have some chances of their own with prolific striker Farid El Alagui proving a handful for the United defence. Lauri Dalla Valle went close to giving the home side the lead when his header caught Michael McGovern off his line but the Falkirk goalkeeper did well to tip the ball onto the bar and out for a corner. United hit the woodwork again when a left-footed volley from Jon Daly inside the area crashed off the crossbar with Falkirk living very dangerously.
United passed up numerous good chances in the opening exchanges of the second half before Falkirk took the lead against the run of play in the 70th minute. A cross from substitute Dale Fulton was met by Farid El Alagui whose header beat Dusan Pernis to open the scoring. United hit back almost straight away through substitute Johnny Russell whose tenacity inside the box gave him the opportunity to lash a shot low across the face of goal and into the far corner from the left side of the box. Johnny Russell squandered two further chances in normal time to send United through to the next round but ultimately the match went into extra time.
After only five minutes of the first period of extra time United took the lead: Johnny Russell setting up Jon Daly to fire home from the right side of the box. Daly hit the woodwork for the second time in the match when he rattled the crossbar with a 25 yard volley from a long ball up the field from Dusan Pernis. The game was now end-to-end with both sides creating good chances: El Alagui shot across the face of goal from a narrow angle before Daly headed just wide from a Flood corner. Johnny Russell had an effort from 18 yards saved by McGovern and Garry Kenneth shot wide of target from a free-kick. It looked like United would manage to see the game out with only a few minutes remaining but there was another twist in the tail as Falkirk scored a late equaliser: Ally Graham getting on the end of the clearance from McGovern – which had evaded the United defence – to prod the ball past Pernis.
With the match finishing all-square after extra time, penalties would be needed to decide which of the two teams would proceed to the semi-finals. In the end one penalty miss was enough to decide the shoot-out: Willo Flood blazing over the crossbar at the Eddie Thompson end which cost United a trip to Hampden and sent Falkirk through after claiming a memorable scalp.
|Dušan Perniš (GK)
|Lauri Dalla Valle
|Stuart Armstrong (sub)
|Johnny Russell (sub)
No league table has been added for this season.
Tonight we welcome Falkirk back to Tannadice and there is no doubt in my mind that we are in for a particularly difficult tie. That really is underlined by them having knocked Rangers out in the last round, so they really deserve to be here. After shipping nine goals in our three previous SPL games, it was a case of getting back to basics against Saints, and there was reward for all hard work on the training ground in keeping a clean-sheet. Now we are looking to build on that. If I was to be critical, going forward we definitely could have used the ball better, because we were nowhere near our usual standards. But that would be being hyper critical given how intense the boys were in the determination in ensuring Saints didn't score. As ever, everyone worked extremely hard. The disappointing thing was that the guys who you know can pass the ball better were a wee bit tentative and that's what happens after losing a couple of games. That and not creating as many chances as we normally do, however, was my only tinge of disappointment. Of course, we are a very young side with the average age on Saturday just 22, but they are learning week by week and hopefully tonight, they can earn the right to experience a cup semi-final.
Manager Steven Pressley has done a magnificent job, especially as he has to work on a shoe-string budget. That has forced him down the line of nurturing young players and Steven and all his staff deserve the utmost praise for having knuckled down to the job and got on with it to the extent that they are capable of producing performances such as the Rangers game. Their team isn't entirely an unknown quantity to us having played them in a pre-season game, but at that time the youngsters in the side were relatively new to each other and just getting to know each other. But I can guarantee that it will be a very different story tonight. For our part we are looking forward to welcoming them back. The club is a very special place for me personally, having spent so many years there, but the one thing I'll be looking to make sure of is knocking them out of the cup! After all there is a semi-final place at stake and reaching it would help the club financially. It would also help me in making my budget that wee bit bigger. The money is important, but like our fans getting to advanced stages of cup competitions is where we all want to be. It is something that we have experienced fairly regularly in recent years, and if we do make it through hopefully we can go one better. We head into this lie with Falkirk on the back of Saturday's goalless draw with St Johnstone.