2 - 1
2 - 1
Pavol Šafranko (8)
Peter Pawlett (29)
|Bob McHugh (73)|
1. Benji Siegrist
30. Mark Reynolds
49. Charlie Seaman
55. Mark Connolly
3. Callum Booth
18. Calum Butcher
47. Ian Harkes
50. Peter Pawlett
14. Pavol Šafranko
10. Nicky Clark
25. Cammy Smith
Robby McCrorie .23
Lee Kilday .2
Jack Iredale .3
Gregor Buchanan .4
Reghan Tumilty .14
Chris Millar .7
Jim McAlister .8
Dylan Dykes .15
Greg Kiltie .20
Bob McHugh .11
Andrew Dallas .44
34. Ross Laidlaw
4. Frédéric Frans
12. Sam Stanton
8. Fraser Fyvie
15. Aidan Nesbitt
7. Paul McMullan
9. Osman Sow
Derek Gaston .1
Kerr Waddell .5
Charlie Telfer .6
Robert Thomson .10
Michael Tidser .12
Keelan O'Connell .17
Gary Oliver .18
Fraser Fyvie for Calum Butcher (64)
Aidan Nesbitt for Cammy Smith (68)
Osman Sow for Peter Pawlett (74)
Kerr Waddell for Lee Kilday (36)
Michael Tidser for Jim McAlister (56)
Mark Reynolds (80)
Kerr Waddell (83)
Gregor Buchanan (87)
Gavin Ross (Referee)
An impressive first half performance was enough to give a much-changed Dundee United all three points at Tannadice against Morton.
Dundee United had made eleven signings during a busy January transfer window, and four new signings took places in the starting line-up, namely Mark Reynolds, Mark Connolly, Peter Pawlett and Calum Butcher. The final player was of course a familiar face, having made 30 appearances for United between 2013 and 2015. Nicky Clark and Ian Harkes, the latter player making his first start for the club, also came into the starting line-up. The players to drop out from the previous week’s defeat in Ayr were Fraser Fyvie, Morgaro Gomis, Frederic Frans, Rachid Bouhenna, Sam Stanton and Paul McMullan.
The two games between the sides this season had both ended in 1-1 draws, with Dundee United needing a last minute equaliser to rescue a point in the previous meeting between the sides at Tannadice in September. The new look United side did not need long to start pressuring their opponents, with any concerns that the new-look team would struggle to gel blown away by a superb first half performance in which United should have scored more than the two goals they did manage.
The first threat came in the third minute when a good run from Ian Harkes ended with the American player firing a low cross across the Morton penalty area which was deflected wide for a corner kick. The set piece was played into the box by Peter Pawlett and was headed just over the bar by Mark Connolly. Morton broke forward from the subsequent goal kick and a shot from Rangers loan signing Andrew Dallas was deflected just wide of the post by a good save from Ben Siegrist.
After seven minutes, only a great save from Morton goalkeeper Robby McCrorie prevented the home side from taking the lead. Calum Butcher was fouled by Greg Kiltie around 20 yards from goal, and the free kick from Peter Pawlett was well saved by McCrorie. However, the opening goal was only delayed by around a minute as United took the lead. Calum Butcher did well to retrieve a seemingly lost cause at the edge of the Morton penalty area. He broke forward, playing a neat one-two with Pawlett, before hitting a low shot across McCrorie that may have been sneaking in at the far post, but Pavol Safranko made sure by sticking out a foot and deflecting the ball into the net.
United were rampant by this stage, and continued to put the Morton defence under siege. A driven cross from the left from Callum Booth soon after the goal was scrambled clear by Lee Kilday just before Nicky Clark could get to the ball. Peter Pawlett had another chance on the 16th minute when he robbed Jack Iredale in midfield and drove towards goal, but once he was in a position to get a shot away it was blocked by Kilday. Pawlett’s next chance arrived after 20 minutes after he met a Booth cross from the left, but his near post header was somehow clawed away by Robby McCrorie. Cammy Smith became the next home player to see a shot blocked as the United pressure continued, before a Safranko cross was hacked away from the lurking Nicky Clark by Gregor Buchanan. Peter Pawlett had yet another shot soon afterwards, which again was parried by McCrorie. On the rebound, Nicky Clark just failed to reach the ball.
The deserved second goal finally arrived after 29 minutes. Nicky Clark pieck the ball up in midfield and slid a clever pass through to the advancing Peter Pawlett, who slid the ball past McCrorie to net himself a debut goal and double United’s lead. The goal did not interrupt United’s domination, and two minutes later only another superb Robby McCrorie save, this time from a drive from Cammy Smith, prevented a third goal.
With six minutes left until the break, the away side though they had found an unlikely way back into the game when Andrew Dallas smashed a shot into the net from a few yards out but the strike was ruled offside by the assistant referee. In the final minute of the half, McCrorie was again forced into action after Gregor Buchanan was dispossessed in his own penalty area by Pavol Safranko, but the Slovakian striker’s effort on goal was saved by the impressive Morton goalkeeper, although on this occasion Safranko really should have scored.
Dundee United’s domination of proceedings continued into the second half, although the first chance, a shot three minutes into the half from out wide by Peter Pawlett, was speculative at best. Cammy Smith saw a shot deflected wide a couple of minutes later, and the subsequent corner kick from Peter Pawlett was headed wide of the post by Pavol Safranko.
Morton had a rare chance of their own five minutes into the half when Dylan Dykes hooked the ball over the bar after the ball was played into the United penalty area, but normal service was resumed a few minutes later when United won a free kick at the other end after Callum Booth was brought down by Reghan Tumilty. Peter Pawlett sent the free kick into the box and Mark Connolly just failed to reach the ball at the back post.
The pace of the game began to drop as the half drew on, probably reflecting the relative lack of match fitness among the United players. The Morton players gained encouragement from this as they tried to get back into a game which should have been well out of reach. Two United players were replaced just after the hour as Fraser Fyvie and Aidan Nesbitt were brought on for Cammy Smith and Calum Butcher. Fyvie’s first involvement on the 73rd minute was an inauspicious one as his wayward pass just outside the United penalty area was intercepted by Greg Kiltie. The Kilmarnock loanee crossed the ball to the front post where Bob McHugh had a tap in. All of a sudden, United were only 2-1 ahead in a game in which they should have been out of sight. They made their third and final change in the wake of that goal when another debutant was brought on in the shape of Osman Sow, who came on for Peter Pawlett.
The goal brought a new lease of life for Morton, and all of a sudden their players had a spring in their step. By and large, United were able to weather the storm. With eleven minutes to go, the visitors won a free kick on the right, and Kerr Waddell should maybe have done better as he could only head Michael Tidser’s delivery wide of the post. Mark Connolly headed an Aidan Nesbitt corner kick wide of the post at the other end a couple of minutes later. Osman Sow then broke forward but his final ball was lacking as it was intercepted and cleared by Gregor Buchanan.
With a few minutes left United should have grabbed a third goal when Ian Harkes broke from midfield and passed the ball to Aidan Nesbitt, but the American’s pass was poor when arguably Sow was in a better position, and Kerr Waddell was able to execute a perfect tackle on Nesbitt to snuff out the chance.
Dundee United were able to see the game out after four minutes of stoppage time, although the win ended up being a lot less comfortable than it should have been given the performance in the first hour of the game. Despite that, it was a good win for United after a much improved performance.
Match report written by Derek Keilloh
|Benji Siegrist (GK)||27||20||-||20||-|
|Aidan Nesbitt (sub)||21||5||-||5||-|
|Fraser Fyvie (sub)||25||17||2||34||5|
|Osman Sow (sub)||28||1||-||1||-|