Dundee Utd 2
Falkirk 1
League (Championship)

Dundee Utd
2 - 1

League (Championship)
Saturday, December 22nd, 2018
Tannadice Park. Att. 5,267
3:00 PM Kick-off

Sam Stanton (22)
Pavol Šafranko (53)
Aaron Muirhead (pen.) (90)

Team Managers
Robbie Neilson
Ray McKinnon

Starting Eleven
1. Benji Siegrist
33. Fraser Aird
3. Callum Booth
19. Rachid Bouhenna
4. Frédéric Frans
2. Stewart Murdoch
8. Fraser Fyvie
11. Billy King
12. Sam Stanton
7. Paul McMullan
14. Pavol Šafranko
David Mitchell .12
Lewis Kidd .2
Jordan McGhee .3
Aaron Muirhead .4
Patrick Brough .18
Thomas Robson .14
Prince Buaben .17
Paul Paton .6
Ruben Sammut .8
Zak Rudden .19
Marcus Haber .24

34. Matej Rakovan
24. William Edjenguélé
17. Jamie Robson
44. Paul Watson
20. Christoph Rabitsch
9. Craig Curran
16. Matty Smith
Leo Fasan .1
Tom Dallison-Lisbon .5
Dennon Lewis .9
Scott Harrison .15
Andy Irving .25
Mark Russell .26
Cieran Dunne .35

Paul Watson for Fraser Fyvie (63)
Craig Curran for Pavol Šafranko (71)
Matty Smith for Fraser Aird (79)
Andy Irving for Lewis Kidd (61)
Dennon Lewis for Marcus Haber (61)
Scott Harrison for Prince Buaben (75)

Pavol Šafranko (64)
Sam Stanton (65)
Craig Curran (90)
Zak Rudden (33)
Marcus Haber (48)
Prince Buaben (58)
Ruben Sammut (70)
Aaron Muirhead (78)
Scott Harrison (90)

Red Cards
None. Paul Paton (65)
Match Officials

Steven Kirkland (Referee)

Match Report

United ended a run of three games without a win in the Scottish Championship as they beat bottom side Falkirk 2-1 at Tannadice.

There was only one change to the team that drew 1-1 in Inverness in Dundee United’s previous match as Paul McMullan replaced Matty Smith. Falkirk manager Ray McKinnon made his first visit to Tannadice since being sacked as United manager in October 2017. The away side were still bottom of the Championship but had shown better form in recent weeks under McKinnon’s stewardship, especially away from home. Falkirk also had two former United players in their starting line up in the shape of Prince Buaben and Paul Paton.

It was a slow start to the game, with a glancing header from Frederic Frans from a Fraser Aird corner on the right in the fifth minute that went just wide being the only chance of note in the early stages, although the home side were largely dominating possession with captain Fraser Fyvie dictating play in midfield. Falkirk’s first opportunity came as Zak Rudden flicked the ball past his man before racing forward, only to be denied by Ben Siegrist who had advanced from his line to boot the ball clear.

Although United had the bulk of possession Falkirk remained dangerous on the break as Tommy Robson advanced forward before playing a low cross into the box in the 15th minute of the game. The ball bounced up via a deflection into the path of Zak Rudden whose header was tipped for a corner by Siegrist. From the resulting delivery, Patrick Brough headed a dangerous cross back into the six yard box, where Aaron Muirhead and Marcus Haber were unable to connect properly before United cleared. Pavol Safranko missed a good chance soon afterwards as he connected with a Callum Booth cross with his knee, but the ball looped harmlessly over the bar. United were getting plenty of balls into the Falkirk box, but so far had been unable to convert any of those opportunities.

The opening goal finally arrived midway through the first half, and as much as the lead was deserved the goal came about in slightly fortunate circumstances. Sam Stanton picked up the ball on the edge of the Falkirk penalty area and he was allowed to turn and get a shot away. The shot would probably have not troubled David Mitchell in the Falkirk goal, but the ball took a huge deflection off Falkirk defender Aaron Muirhead to wrong foot the Falkirk goalkeeper, and the ball went past Mitchell and into the net.

Stanton had another shot from the edge of the box five minutes after his goal as United continued to dominate, but this time Mitchell was able to make the save. Two minutes later, Fraser Aird played the ball to Pavol Safranko in the Falkirk penalty area. He chested the ball down to the onrushing Paul McMullan, but again Mitchell was able to save. McMullan then missed the target with a header from a Stewart Murdoch cross as United sought to press home their advantage.

The rest of the first half saw United have the majority of possession, but they failed to create many more chances in front of goal. With five minutes to the interval, David Mitchell was forced into a fine stop to tip a superb Fraser Aird volley from 18 yards over the bar. From the resultant corner, the Falkirk defence were only able to clear the ball to the edge of their own area where Rachid Bouhenna smashed in a drive that David Mitchell did brilliantly to turn onto the crossbar, ensuring that one goal was United’s only reward from a much improved first half performance.

The second half began as the first half ended, with the home side in complete control. In the second minute of the half, United really should have made it 2-0 when Frederic Frans headed over from a Fraser Aird free kick which was conceded by a foul on Billy King by Prince Buaben. Five minutes into the half, Stewart Murdoch attempted an ambitious overhead kick meeting another Fraser Aird corner, although the ball went well over the bar.

United got the second goal they deserved eight minutes into the second half, and it came from yet another Fraser Aird corner as the Canadian floated the ball in from the United left. Marcus Haber made a vain attempt to clear the ball, and Pavol Safranko headed the ball down across David Mitchell for his eighth goal for Dundee United, and his first for four games. The goal was especially welcome for Safranko after he had struggled in front of goal in United’s previous game in Inverness.

United continued to dominate after the second goal, and former United favourite Prince Buaben earned himself a booking for fouling Fraser Fyvie as Falkirk attempted to stem the tide. Rachid Bouhenna sent a shot over the bar from just inside the penalty area, before Fyvie, who had not recovered from that bad challenge from Buaben, was forced off with an ankle injury after a lengthy spell of treatment on the sidelines. He was replaced by former Falkirk player Paul Watson.

Falkirk’s day went from bad to worse after 64 minutes as they were reduced to ten men. Pavol Safranko fouled Paul Paton in his own half, and the former United player took exception to the challenge, angrily confronting his opponent before headbutting the Slovakian. After a melee involving several players from both teams was split up, a red card for Paton was the inevitable result, with Safranko booked for his part in proceedings.

Rachid Bouhenna tried another effort on goals from fully 40 yards out, which went both high and wide. With 20 minutes left David Mitchell tipped a free kick from Fraser Aird over the bar, although mystifyingly referee Steven Kirkland awarded a goal kick. At the other end, Zak Rudden had a low drive held by Ben Siegrist before Tommy Robson delivered a good cross from the left that was flicked on by Dennon Lewis just ahead of Rudden. There was a further late scare from United as Ben Siegrist went down hurt with ten minutes left after United had used all three substitutions, but fortunately after treatment the goalkeeper was able to carry on.

United were continuing to chase the game and had several good chances in the closing stages to get a third goal. Falkirk goalkeeper David Mitchell was called upon to make a couple of saves, firstly by parrying an 18 yard shot from Paul McMullan, before foiling United substitute Craig Curran. His next save was even more impressive, somehow keeping out a diving header from Frederic Frans with a superb reaction save.

Just when it looked like United would see the game out comfortably a twist came in the 90th minute as Falkirk halved the deficit. There did not appear to be much danger when Falkirk substitute Dennon Lewis picked the ball up on halfway, but he weaved in and out of several challenges from United players before making his way into the penalty area, where his run was halted by a foul from Paul Watson. Aaron Muirhead smashed the ball past Ben Siegrist to give the visitors some small hope of rescuing an unlikely point.

Despite that late blow, there was never any realistic prospect of United failing to gain the three points, and they saw the remaining few minutes of injury time out without further incident. The win saw United remain in third place in the Scottish Championship, four points behind league leaders Ross County.

Written by Derek Keilloh

Squad Statistics (as at December 22nd, 2018)

2018-19 All Time
Benji Siegrist (GK)26 14 - 14 -
Fraser Aird23 203203
Callum Booth27 15 - 15 -
Rachid Bouhenna27 14 - 14 -
Frédéric Frans29 182182
Stewart Murdoch28 14 - 801
Fraser Fyvie25 131304
Billy King24 1526310
Sam Stanton24 172659
Paul McMullan22 2136112
Pavol Šafranko24 178178
Paul Watson (sub)28 134134
Craig Curran (sub)29 153153
Matty Smith (sub)21 101345

Team Sheet (Scanned Photo)

League Table (as at December 22nd, 2018)

Pld W D L +/- Pts
1. Ross County 18 10 6 2 +19 36
2. Ayr Utd 17 10 5 2 +18 35
3. DUNDEE UTD 18 9 5 4 +2 32
4. Inverness CT 17 5 11 1 +6 26
5. QOS 18 5 8 5 +5 23
6. Morton 18 5 7 6 -7 22
7. Dunfermline 18 5 5 8 -7 20
8. Alloa Athletic 18 3 7 8 -9 16
9. Partick Th 18 4 2 12 -14 14
10. Falkirk 18 3 4 11 -13 13

League results since United's last match
22nd December 2018
Alloa Athletic2-0QOS
Dundee Utd2-1Falkirk
Dunfermline0-0Ayr Utd
Morton1-2Inverness CT
Ross County2-0Partick Th