1 - 1
1 - 1
Eamonn Bannon (86)
||Kevin Sheedy (67)|
John Holt for Richard Gough (45)
Maurice Malpas for Derek Murray (59)
John Clark for Ian Britton (75)
Southall for Arnold (45)
Richardson for Ainscow (78)
Rimmer for Johnson (76)
Irvine for Heath (81)
G.B Smith (Edinburgh) (Referee)
Jim McLean gave both Derek Murray at full-back and Ian Britton in midfield, a chance to prove they can enhance the regular line-up. Everton were the competition for United in this challenge match. 27 year-old goalkeeper Jim Arnold, a £175,000 signing from Blackburn Rovers, played between the sticks for the visitors in a team that also included Graeme Sharp and Steve McMahon.
It was a useful exercise for the Tannadice team, not least of all for the sight of Paul Sturrock who was continuing his climb back to international form, in perfect time for United's decisive league visit to Parkhead on Wednesday. Sturrock it was who gave the 5000 crowd their first moment of excitement, when after only four minutes he turned neatly in the box and forced an agile diving clutch from Arnold with a rising 10-yard volley. the striker, looking sharp and incisive, threatened again 60 seconds later when he took all the pace out of a raging Milne centre and set up a simple chance, which Dodds squandered. Everton's first raid on McAlpine took 21 minutes to arrive, and there was a close call for United when Heath and former Dumbarton player Graeme Sharp were a fraction shirt of contact with Johnson's cross. McAlpine was busy again five minutes later, when Johnson forced him to turn his 10-yard effort round the post after Heath had dispossessed Narey.
The home players started the second half in the same hungry mood, and when Sturrock sent Milne racing in on goal in 50 minutes the winger's right-foot shot swept past substitute 'keeper Southall but nicked the outside of the post. Everton took consolation from that let off and stole upfield to take the lead 20 minutes from time. Johnson's pass gave Kevin Sheedy the opportunity to fire in a speculative 30-yard shot and it went into the net low down to McAlpine's left hand. Some justice was served with three minutes remaining when a John Holt lob from the right found Bannon clear in the box and, although the midfield player was falling as he made contact, his first time effort raged high into the Everton net. The match ended in a draw but the English side would be the first to concede that their share of the score line hardly bore true reflection on the flow of the game. Although they did contribute to an entertaining friendly.
Tonight we entertain Everton and this fixture comes by way of light relief in comparison with recent matches. Regular readers of this column will hardly need reminding that I have felt that all season we have asked too much from too few and perhaps these players can spend the ensuing ninety minutes in relaxed mood. Hopefully, free from the pressures our League campaign has imposed, we can regain our eariy season rhythm which has only been in evidence on fleeting occasions since the turn of the year. If we achieve this, then we can face next week's vital trip to Parkhead, duly refreshed. During the past few weeks we have bounced back into the championship race on more than one occasion. Last weekend's results, once again, gave us hope. However, there is no doubt that our encounter with Celtic on Wednesday will be our last chance, with no life-line if we fail. Irrespective of whether we win the title or not, it won't alter my thoughts that we have a good playing pool. It compares favourably with Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen, all of whom have greater financial resources. The players' efforts in sustaining a challenge for the championship has been magnificent. Of late I have been forced to take a few chances in some team selections by including players not a 100% fit. Fortunately, all concerned did their best despite their injury handicap. However, no one at Tannadice will be satisfied with second or third spot.
Recently we have met all four of tomorrow's semi-finalists, beating three (two on their own ground). My criticism is that whilst most would acknowledge our ability to have reached the last four, the factor that has let us down is our lack of winners in the side. Only Hamish McAlpine, Richard Gough and Derek Stark have consistently displayed the resolution and determination that wins matches. We have players with greater ability on our books but they must match the three aforementioned in that department otherwise we may well have to face a similar situation to last year with no silverware at the season end. Ability alone is not sufficient if players lack the hunger necessary to make them winners. I would like to add my tribute to Aberdeen on their superb European achievement this season, my only regret being that we aren't keeping them company in the UEFA Cup semi-final. Returning to this evening's match, we have always enjoyed good games in our matches with Engiish sides and hopefully tonights meeting will see a repeat of the early season clashes with West Ham and Southampton.