Published: 3rd February 2024
AYR UNITED 1 (MURPHY 2')
DUNDEE UNITED 2 (WATT 67', DOCHERTY 82')
3PM SATURDAY 3 FEBRUARY 2024
Tony Watt and Ross Docherty were on target as United came from behind to go four points clear at the top of the cinch Championship!
THE TEAM TALK
Jim Goodwin named two changes in this afternoon's DUFC XI!
Into the side came Louis Moult and Alex Greive, replacing Tony Watt and Kai Fotheringham in our forward line.
Our Skipper, Ross Docherty, also featured after returning from injury last weekend. Declan Gallagher is still ruled out which afforded Ross Graham his fourth consecutive start after some stellar showings.
Graham was just one of six DUFC Academy graduates named in our matchday squad.
BEHIND EARLY DOORS
A brilliant strike from Jamie Murphy opened the scoring inside two minutes.
Greive's hooked clearance was expertly brought out of the air by Paddy Reading in the centre of the park. Sliding in Murphy down the left, he knocked the ball past Liam Grimshaw who could only haul down Ayr's number 15 for a freekick and the first caution of the match.
It was Murphy who stepped up from the tight angle and curled the ball into the top right corner, leaving Jack Walton no chance.
The hosts almost made it two but Walton thwarted Anton Dowds with a smart stop from close range. United countered immediately, with David Wotherspoon expertly picking out Moult with a threaded pass, but as he fired at goal on his left foot, Charlie Albinson in the hosts' net was down low to save well.
PRESSURE NOT TELLING
A significant number of corners failed to lead to anything more - the wind playing a large part in some wayward deliveries. It was however a first half in which Goodwin's side largely dominated.
Glenn Middleton found himself in shooting range as some determined running and quick feet allowed him to jink into the box. Unfortunately for the men in green, his effort flashed by the post. Wotherspoon, Middleton and Greive all looked lively whilst efforts from distance from Craig Sibbald failed to trouble Albinson.
Bodies on the line defending stopped us from drawing level as we approached the half. Five minutes before the break, Grevie looked to be brought down inside the area before they could pull the trigger, but Referee Gavin Duncan waved play on before drawing curtains on the first 45.
A high challenge from Middleton sent sparks flying in the opening flashpoint of the second period. The result was cautions for Middleton, George Stanger and Ben Dempsey.
The Gaffer rolled the dice on 59 minutes as Watt and Fotheringham replaced Wotherspoon and Greive. Our first chance of the half followed as Middleton's low cross for Fotheringham was diverted behind by Reading for a corner. Our number 15's delivery was on the money for Holt, but he could only nod wide of the target.
BACK ON TERMS
Watt made his mark with a goal just ten minutes after his introduction.
Making space inside the hosts' penalty area, he turned inside his defender and squeezed a low, left-footed strike into the near corner to restore parity.
TAKING ALL THE POINTS
There was a let-off for United as Scott McMann denied Dempsey with a brave block before Jack Sanders could only send the ball wide following a corner.
However, against his former club, Docherty was the man to clinch all three points.
Again Watt was involved. Turning provider this time, he lofted the ball towards the back post and on the stretch, our Skipper stabbed the ball past Albinson at his near post - sparking delirium in front of the 866 travelling supporters.
Into the 90th minute, the hosts were reduced to ten as Stanger was shown a second yellow card after the earlier stramash.
???? “The players deserve all the credit. We had to come up with a different way of grinding out the result which, at this stage of the season, is all that matters.”#DUFC Manager Jim Goodwin on this afternoon’s #cinchChamp action at Somerset Park ???? pic.twitter.com/9UtaZrZ2JH— Dundee United FC (@dundeeunitedfc) February 3, 2024
Starting XI: Albinson, McAllister, McGinty (c), Stanger, Reading, Dempsey, Syla, Bryden, McKenzie, Murphy, Dowds
Subs: Mutch, Sanders, Smith, McGeady, Tomlinson, Amartey, Musonda, Willoughby, McHugh
Starting XI: Walton, Holt, Graham, Grimshaw, Wotherspoon, Sibbald, Middleton, Fotheringham, Docherty (c), Watt, McMann
Subs: Newman, Greive, Moult, Tillson, Meekison, Freeman, Mochrie, Cudjoe, Petrie
It's a top-of-the-table clash as we travel to Kircaldy on Friday 16 February to take on Raith Rovers.
Images: Richard Wiseman.