1 - 0
League Cup (Group B)
|Blair Henderson (11)||
Tony Watt (missed pen.) (63)
1. Blair Carswell
2. Kieran Watson
3. Michael Allan
4. Kevin Waugh
5. Jordan Tapping
6. Bradley Whyte
7. Jamie Dishington
8. James Craigen
9. Blair Henderson
10. Rhys Armstrong
11. Cameron Russell
Jack Walton .1
Kevin Holt .4
Scott McMann .33
Ollie Denham .5
Kieran Freeman .22
Liam Grimshaw .8
Mathew Cudjoe-Anim .28
Archie Meekison .17
Ross Docherty .23
Glenn Middleton .15
Tony Watt .32
12. Alan Brown
14. Ethan Sunderland
15. Ayrton Sonkur
16. Gavin Morrison
17. Chris Inglis
18. Samuel Jones
19. Adam Meek
20. Samuel Newman
Jack Newman .13
Flynn Duffy .25
Ross Graham .6
Chris Mochrie .26
Logan Chalmers .11
Craig Sibbald .14
Declan Glass .21
Miller Thomson .29
Rory Macleod .27
Samuel Jones for Rhys Armstrong (70)
Gavin Morrison for Michael Allan (75)
Samuel Newman for Blair Henderson (75)
Ayrton Sonkur for Jordan Tapping (83)
Declan Glass for Liam Grimshaw (65)
Chris Mochrie for Glenn Middleton (65)
Rory Macleod for Tony Watt (65)
Logan Chalmers for Archie Meekison (76)
Miller Thomson for Ollie Denham (85)
|Kevin Waugh (48)||None.|
Stewart Luke (Referee)
United kicked off their 2023-24 season with a toothless showing in front of a packed Ainslie Park in the opening group match of the League Cup. In a tepid affair, the Terrors ultimately offered nothing in reply to a solitary goal scored by SPFL newcomers, Spartans, sparking fan uproar and concern for the season ahead.
Jim Goodwin named a new look eleven following a summer of significant transition. There were debuts for all five of his new signings – Jack Walton, Kevin Holt, Liam Grimshaw, Ollie Denholm and newly named captain, Ross Docherty.
The Spartans, eager to give a good showing on their season curtain-raiser following their promotion from the Lowland League, showed flashes of creativity from the outset. Six minutes in, Cammy Russell should have done better when he was played in by Blair Henderson but sent his shot soaring over the bar. It came as no surprise though when they took the lead 11 minutes in, Russell unlocking the defence before slotting to Henderson for a finish from close range.
Were it not for a good save from Jack Walton it could have been 2-0 soon after, the on-loan Luton stopper reacting well to save from Jamie Dishington. It took until the 26th minute for United to register their first shot on target, Glenn Middleton trying his luck with a stinging shot from outside the area saved by Blair Carswell. Moments later, Carswell had to react quickly to turn a looping shot from Tony Watt away to safety.
United had the most of the ball for the duration of what was turning into a frustrating first half, but the Spartans remained content to sit in and watch United huff and puff their way around the eighteen yard box, restricted to shots from distance.
United started the second half in the same vein, but despite Matthew Cudjoe coming close with a zipping shot just over the bar on 54 minutes, they struggled to make a breakthrough.
Tony Watt, seeking redemption in his second chance at the club after returning from a loan spell, had probably United's best chance from open play on 63 minutes. Working hard in midfield to win the ball, he broke clear before being pushed wide only for his left-footed shot to be blocked.
United were handed a lifeline just a minute later, when Russell fouled McMann inside the area, prompting referee Stewart Luke to point to the spot. Penalty taker Watt was to discover though that Carswell is something of a spot kick specialist, as he easily saved the striker's effort from 12 yards.
With 25 minutes to go, Goodwin rang the changes by making a string of substitutions, and United did seem to up the tempo. On 69 minutes, sub Declan Glass should have done better with a shot from close range but Carswell again was up to the task.
United continued to flatter to deceive, managing to keep the ball without ever creating anything. At the other end though, there was little sign that Spartans could grab a second.
Substitute Miller Thomson had the last say on the game, rattling the Spartans crossbar with a right footed shot after being slipped in on goal by Cudjoe a minute into stoppage time. It was United's last throw of the dice before succumbing to one of the most humiliating defeats in the club's long history.
Tensions were high at full-time as the voices of traveling Arabs were beginning to be heard, mostly notably at the players' tunnel where words were exchanged between the coaching staff and spectators.
If the aim of this League Cup opener was to paint a picture of the season to come, it was no masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination. United's lack of final product, despite enjoying the majority of possession, was met with plenty of fan concern as they came away from the game.
Match report written by Niall Harkiss
|Jack Walton (GK)||25||1||-||1||-|
|Chris Mochrie (sub)||20||1||-||21||1|
|Miller Thomson (sub)||18||1||-||6||-|
|Logan Chalmers (sub)||23||1||-||41||3|
|Declan Glass (sub)||23||1||-||29||2|
|Rory Macleod (sub)||17||1||-||21||-|
No games played.
|League results since United's last match|