Adrian Sporle with a chance

Published: 8th May 2021

Dundee United bowed out of the Scottish Cup at the semi final stage, going down 2-0 to Hibs at the national stadium.

Micky Mellon sent out his strongest XI for United’s biggest game of the season. It was the same group of men that had so emphatically beaten Aberdeen at Pittodrie to advance to the Semi Finals. Hibernian at the national stadium would be a different proposition, with the wide open spaces of the Hampden pitch offering a perfect setting for the pacy runners. 

The stands stood achingly empty, a far cry from the thick tangerine smoke and song that had seen the team bus off at Tannadice yesterday afternoon. 

Both teams began with tempo and forward momentum. United enjoyed plenty of possession and looked to knock it between their midfield diamond and front three. Hibs looked to launch attacks through the thundering running of Boyle. 

McNulty and Shankland in particular linked well early on, with the former connecting with the latter with a fine ball that came to nothing. On six minutes, Shankland worked the first chance of the game, carrying the ball twenty yards towards a retreating Hibernian rear-guard. He slipped in Harkes but the midfielder couldn’t shape himself for the shot in time. United showing plenty of intent. 

The pace of Boyle was always going to be a threat down the United left, but Our Academy Graduate Jamie Robson set himself for the challenge. Every time the Australian internationalist set off, he’d have the tangerine shadow of Robson streaking beside him, smothering his possession and cutting off his options. A Robson block on a Boyle cross broke to give Hibs their first serious chance. Hallberg advanced onto the deflected ball and hammered a strike wide. 

The first half hour saw chances shared between the sides in an open and lively contest. Doidge and Nisbett both tried to create for Hibs, with Ian Harkes having United’s best chance, heading a McNulty cross beyond the goal.  

It was the capital city side who opened the scoring on 27 minutes. A long ball behind the United defence had Liam Smith scrambling. The fullback nodded the ball high skyward. Jackson Irvine got in under the landing zone, controlled the ball well and played in Nisbett. The striker leathered the ball into the bottom corner. 

The first half lost its vibrancy from that point. Hibs looked to protect their lead to the break, and United struggled to exert any dominance. The final 15 petered out, leaving United with everything to do.

The second half very nearly sparked for the Terrors immediately. A powerful run from McNulty scything through Hibs forced Porteous to foul the United man on the edge of the area and take a yellow card. Nicky Clark blazed the resultant free kick wide. 

Hibs had much of the play, however, and United were struggling to impose themselves for an extended period in the contest. 

On 58 minutes Hibs scored again. A fine backheel from Nisbett set an offside Doidge loose. The big Welshman buried the ball, and the linesman’s flag stayed down. The Terrors found themselves two down and in big trouble. 

Micky Mellon tried to alter the narrative with some changes. Harkes and Clark made way for Pawlett and Spörle. 

On the hour United had their best opportunity. McNulty fired a cross in to Shankland who struck first time. The keeper saved in a dive down at his near post. The Tannadice side pressured from two subsequent corners, but couldn’t find the net. 

Robson latched on to a long pass from his fellow fullback Smith and struck goalwards. His shot went wide. It would be United’s last meaningful chance. 

The final half hour saw United struggling to contain Boyle. The speedster pressured first Edwards then Robson into conceding free kicks on the edge of the box, the United men finding themselves in the referee’s book for their infringements. 

Micky Mellon’s men tried in vain to create chances late on, but even with five minutes of additional time, United were unable to find a way onto the scoresheet. 

The Scottish cup adventure that began at home to Partick Thistle and took in Forfar and Aberdeen comes to its conclusion in a rainy Glasgow. 

DUNDEE UNITED: Deniz, Robson (AG) Reynolds (C), Edwards, L Smith, Butcher, Harkes, Fuchs, Clark, Shankland, McNulty. SUBS Doohan, Spörle, Chalmers (AG), Appere (AG), Pawlett, Davidson (AG), Watson (AG), K Smith (AG), Connolly. 

HIBS: Macey, Hanlon (C), Porteous, McGinn, Doidge, Boyle, Newell, Nisbett, Hallberg, Doig, Irvine. SUBS: Marciano, Gray, Macgennis, Wright, Stevenson, Murphy, McGregor, Laidlaw.