Published: 6th February 2021
Shankland and Edwards scored a goal apiece to secure all three points for Dundee United in a heartening display in Dingwall.
Dundee United travelled north in search of their first win in 2021, facing off against a Staggies rejuvenated under new manager John Hughes.
United began in a 442 with Captain Reynolds recalled to the centre of defence alongside the towering Englishman Ryan Edwards, scorer of United’s late goal midweek. Peter Pawlett, who had impressed with his attacking impetus from the bench against Motherwell, earned a place in the starting XI.
Relentless rain and sleet across Scotland had rendered the nearby surface at Inverness unplayable, and had certainly taken its toll on the pitch at the Global Energy Stadium. Equal parts saturated mud and slick grass made conditions very difficult underfoot. Players slipped and slid, balls bobbled and precise passing was at a premium.
Ryan Edwards was to the fore for United both in defence and attack in the first half. He won several headers in the United box when the home team applied pressure, stabilising the Terrors at set pieces.
Lawrence Shankland had two near identical moments to open the scoring in the first half. The ball broke free to him beyond the County backline, leaving him one on one with the goalie. On both occasions, the Scotland cap couldn’t quite conjure a clear strike as Laidlaw hastily smothered him.
At the other end, Siegrist was forced in to one good save and had to tidy up high balls on several occasions as the Staggies contributed to a competitive opening period.
The second half narrative followed a perfect emotional parabola for Arabs everywhere. Ross County came out the more aggressive and dominated the twenty minutes after the break. The Highland side looked the far more likely to score, and United just could not find a foothold.
A period of extended home pressure saw County secure another corner. Things looked bad, but from the set piece, United sprung. Shankland sprinting hard up the left wing played the ball across to Jeando Fuchs. The Cameroonian thundered forward as the Staggies defence struggled to keep pace. The ball went wide, and was snapped back into the box by Smith, finding Shankland ready to pounce. Last season’s top scorer touched the ball clear of Laidlaw and slotted home. A massive goal in the story of United’s season.
A second set piece – so much United’s bête noire of late – provided the conclusive moment. A United corner this time, delivered beautifully by Peter Pawlett from the right, was attacked by Ryan Edwards. The Englishman rounded off a brace of fine performances by muscling in front of his marker and heading the ball beyond the goalie.
As the minutes ticked on, the legs of midfield machines Fuchs and Butcher ran out of steam. Manager Micky Mellon, doubtless delighted at the determination of his charges, brought on the all-American pairing of Powers and Harkes to see things out. The two refreshed the team nicely to ensure County couldn’t find their way back into the game.
Two goals and a clean sheet for the Tangerines, who pull eight points ahead of their Highland competition and add a couple of useful strikes to their goal difference.