1 - 0
1 - 0
Nicky Clark (pen.) (68)
1. Benji Siegrist
17. Jamie Robson
55. Mark Connolly
49. Charlie Seaman
30. Mark Reynolds
47. Ian Harkes
50. Peter Pawlett
18. Calum Butcher
10. Nicky Clark
14. Pavol Šafranko
7. Paul McMullan
Mark Ridgers .1
Shaun Rooney .2
Brad McKay .22
Coll Donaldson .5
Kevin McHattie .29
Liam Polworth .7
Charlie Trafford .24
Sean Welsh .15
Joe Chalmers .4
Nathan Austin .9
Jordan White .19
34. Ross Laidlaw
44. Paul Watson
13. Morgaro Gomis
15. Aidan Nesbitt
8. Fraser Fyvie
25. Cammy Smith
9. Osman Sow
Cameron Mackay .21
Carl Tremarco .3
Jamie McCart .6
Darren McCauley .8
Aaron Doran Cogan .10
Danny Mackay .23
Roddy MacGregor .35
Aidan Nesbitt for Paul McMullan (59)
Morgaro Gomis for Nicky Clark (78)
Paul Watson for Charlie Seaman (84)
Aaron Doran Cogan for Kevin McHattie (76)
Darren McCauley for Charlie Trafford (82)
Danny Mackay for Joe Chalmers (90)
Mark Connolly (32)
Peter Pawlett (48)
Pavol Šafranko (82)
Kevin McHattie (17)
Shaun Rooney (47)
Peter Pawlett (72)
Barry Cook (Referee)
After a run of three away games, Dundee United returned to Tannadice to take on Inverness Caledonian Thistle in a Tuesday evening game.
The game was the first of two successive matches at home to the Caley Jags, with this league game being closely followed by a Scottish Cup quarter final. The away side had a great recent record at Tannadice, not having lost away to United since March 2014. Head coach Robbie Neilson made two changes from the team which drew against Falkirk in United’s previous game. Mark Reynolds had missed the previous two games due to being unable to play on the artificial surfaces at Dumfries and Falkirk but returned to the team for this game, and Paul McMullan also returned to the starting line-up. The players to drop out were Frederic Frans, who had sustained an injury against Falkirk, and goalscorer against the Bairns Cammy Smith who dropped to the bench.
The two previous games between the teams had both ended in 1-1 draws, and another tight game was expected with Inverness having drawn 12 of their 25 league games so far this season. However, given that the two sides above United in the league, Ross County and Ayr United, were playing each other, United knew this would be a huge opportunity to gain on one, or both, of those teams.
The first chance came after four minutes, and it came for the home side after Paul McMullan burst into the box and fed Peter Pawlett, although the former MK Dons and Aberdeen player shot just over the bar from around ten yards out. Two minutes later, McMullan was again the architect as he broke forward from midfield and passed to Charlie Seaman on the United right, although his cross was too far in front of the waiting Nicky Clark and Pavol Safranko. Seaman had an effort on goal of his own within 60 seconds, but his low shot was dragged just wide of the post. More good play from United on the 9th minute saw the next chance, as Ian Harkes became the latest player to get a cross in, and although Nicky Clark just got his studs onto the ball, he could not get enough on it to divert the ball into the net. Calum Butcher played the ball through to Safranko in a good position on the edge of the area soon afterwards, but sadly the Slovakian striker was standing in an offside position.
The game settled down after that frantic start, and Inverness began to see more of the ball after being unable to create anything in the opening stages. However, in the 18th minute Mark Ridgers was called upon to make a save for the first time after Nicky Clark latched onto a header towards goal by Calum Butcher. Ridgers was able to block Clark’s shot from point blank range.
Inverness had their first half chance after 20 minutes when Shaun Rooney launched a long ball forward for Nathan Austin to chase, but Ben Siegrist was able to come off his line and smother the ball before the Inverness striker could reach it. Three minutes after that there was a scare for the home team as Joe Chalmers crossed the ball from the left to an unmarked Tom Walsh at the back post, but luckily for United Walsh’s control was poor and the home defence were able to clear the ball. Inverness were looking the more threatening side at this stage of proceedings, and after forcing a corner kick which was sent into the box by Joe Chalmers, United were relieved to see Shaun Rooney head the ball onto the roof of the net. Seconds later, a free kick from Coll Donaldson from over 30 yards out was deflected over the bar, and Ben Siegrist did well to hold onto the resultant Joe Chalmers corner kick from just under his crossbar. A minute later, Siegrist was called into action again to save a deflected Nathan Austin shot as the away side turned up the pressure.
In the 33rd minute, United were nearly undone by another set piece as Liam Polworth floated a free kick into the box which Coll Donaldson headed a few inches over the bar. United were able to break up the pitch after that near miss, although Jamie Robson’s cross from the left was hooked away by Joe Chalmers just before Paul McMullan could get there. Two minutes after that United nearly took the lead in bizarre fashion after Peter Pawlett blocked an attempted clearance from Mark Ridgers, but the ball flew just wide, much to the relief of the Inverness goalkeeper. Ian Harkes then had a shot defected wide as United tried to regain the initiative. With five minutes to go until the break, Nicky Clark tried to tee up Paul McMullan, and although the pass was blocked it fell for Pavol Safranko who saw his shot charged down by the Inverness defence. Aside from a Peter Pawlett shot from distance two minutes before the break which went very high and very wide, that was the end of the first half chances.
The chances continued after half time. Within a minute of the restart, Nicky Clark was able to create some space for himself in the Inverness penalty area. He got a shot away, but it was straight at Mark Ridgers who saved comfortably. A few minutes into the half, a low Paul McMullan cross was hit wide by Peter Pawlett after the ball was left by both Nicky Clark and Pavol Safranko, while at the other end Liam Polworth shot over for the visitors from the edge of the penalty area. The chances were continuing to come thick and fast at both ends, but neither side was able to break the deadlock. Some loose play from United a few minutes later presented a chance to Joe Chalmers but the ball was cleared off the line by Ian Harkes, before Robbie Neilson made his first change of the night by bringing Aidan Nesbitt on for Paul McMullan.
Nathan Austin was the next player to threaten for Inverness on the hour mark, but his looping header floated wide of the far post. The chances were beginning to dry up at this stage as the game degenerated into a midfield battle. Nicky Clark did have another effort on goal after 64 minutes, but his overhead kick from 12 yards out was again straight at Ridgers and the keeper saved well.
The deadlock was finally broken midway through the half, and it came from the penalty spot after Peter Pawlett was fouled in the penalty area by former United defender Coll Donaldson. Nicky Clark stepped up to take the penalty, and he sent Mark Ridgers the wrong way to give United a vital lead with his 9th goal of the season and his second penalty in three games. However, within a couple of minutes United’s task was to become tougher as they were reduced to ten men when Peter Pawlett picked up his second yellow card for a foul on Kevin McHattie in midfield, meaning that they would have to see out the last 20 minutes of the game at a numerical disadvantage.
With twelve minutes left Charlie Trafford fired a shot over the bar from 18 yards out as the away side sought a way back into the game. Nathan Austin then got a header in on goal but Ben Siegrist got down low to save. Siegrist then did well to pluck a Coll Donaldson cross out of the air under heavy pressure, before he made a slightly easier save from a Joe Chalmers shot. The sending off had placed United under huge pressure and it was all Inverness at this stage. United brought on Morgaro Gomis and Paul Watson for Nicky Clark and Charlie Seaman as they tried to see the game out.
The pressure did not let up, although Aidan Nesbitt was able to break up the field after an Inverness corner was cleared, but he was rather isolated and the away side were able to win the ball back. The away side put Coll Donaldson up front in an attempt to rescue the game, and only a great save from Ben Siegrist in stoppage time prevented him from equalising as he somehow got a hand on the defender’s effort on goal to tip it over the bar.
United clung on for a vital 1-0 victory, and Ayr United’s defeat against Ross County meant the Terrors moved into second place in the Championship, still five points behind the Staggies having played one game more.
Match report written by Derek Keilloh
|Benji Siegrist (GK)||27||24||-||24||-|
|Paul Watson (sub)||28||18||4||18||4|
|Morgaro Gomis (sub)||33||6||-||207||7|
|Aidan Nesbitt (sub)||22||6||-||6||-|
Clearly, last month's Transfer window was extremely hectic with the arrival of so many new players. Now the dust has settled, I have to say that I am very pleased not only with the players we have brought in, but also with its knock-on effect and the improvement in the players who were already here as they have stepped up to the plate again and shown the qualities that they possess. So it was a pleasing window so far but there are still quite a few games to go in which they must continue to prove themselves. All the wheeling and dealing has given me a strong squad and in the run in we will have to utilise the whole squad. So it is important that all the guys who don't figure on a Saturday are kept match fit by playing in the reserves. And you saw the benefit of that at Queen of the South where Frans and Bouhenna and McMullen came in and Paul Watson was utilised as a substitute which gives you that extra wee lift Osman Sow played in last Tuesday's reserve game against Hamilton which was his first 90 minutes for almost two years. Al! of which shows how important it is keep everybody match fit to ensure that when they are ready when called upon.
The trend in all our recent games is to have had the better of the first half, but not been so dominant after the break. However, that is the nature of this league in which there are definitely no mugs against whom you expect to turn up and win four, five or six nil. Consequently, you can't expect to dominate entirely, so there'll always be periods where they'll do well whether that be first or second half. It was the same against Falkirk last Saturday, who you must remember, are the in-form team in the league despite being near the bottom. Certainly, we have had some tough away games. Against St Mirren we dominated for a long period and then had to scrap it out during the latter stages and they are a decent Premiership side as has been shown by recent draws at Pittodrie and Tynecastle. It was a similar story at Dumfries where Queen of the South have the best home record in the Championship having handed out big defeats to Ayr and Ross County as well as a convincing win over Dundee in the Scottish Cup. In both of those games I was pleased not just with the football we played, but the ability to dig in and see the games out. Tonight we welcome Inverness Caley Thistle for the first of our two games in five days and both will be very tough encounters. I went up to watch their Scottish Cup replay with Ross County and the resilience they showed to come back twice from behind was great. In addition to having great physicality, they also pass the ball very well and are quite expansive. So we know these two big games for us are going to be a big challenge in our battle for automatic promotion and an opportunity to reach Hampden.