Dundee United returned to Ladbrokes Championship action at Tannadice today, with last season’s bogey team, Dumbarton, the visitors.
By Gordon Aitchison
Ray McKinnon made nine changes from the team which laboured to victory against Alloa in their previous game. Only William Edjenguele and Paul McMullan were retained in the starting line-up. Dumbarton, who had only two points from their opening four games arrived hoping to emulate their successes against United last season, taking seven points from a possible twelve.
Stevie Aitken’s task looked to made more difficult with the last minute withdrawal of Kyle Hutton, his place was taken by David Wilson.
Dumbarton broke the deadlock after just five minutes. Murdoch’s slip allowed Walsh to cross from the left, Quinn’s attempted clearance only deflected the ball into the path of David Smith who gleefully kneed the ball in at the far post.
Stanton nearly had United level two minutes later but his drive, after a direct run through the middle, flew over the bar. On twenty minutes United created their best chance of the half, McMullan fed Stanton, his clever feed into Fraser was taken first time, but the effort was straight at Gallacher in the Dumbarton goal.
Dumbarton were the more clinical team with the ball, time and time again catching out a static United defence. Jamie Robson and Paul Quinn having to stretch to make last ditch clearances. On thirty minutes Jordie Briels rounded the keeper and shot into the side netting from a wide angle, when a little more time and care could have setup McDonald in the six-yard area. Scott Fraser then wasted another opportunity, hosting past three Dumbarton defenders, but his cross sailed over the bar.
Fyvie was next to rescue the Tangerines, getting a toe onto another dangerous cross, deflecting the ball from the path of Smith.
Dougie Hill was cautioned in the forty third minute, referee Aitken counting out his numerous infringements.
Half Time: United 0-1 Dumbarton
Patrick N’Koyi replaced Sam Stanton at the beginning of the second half as manager McKinnon changed things to get United a foothold in the match.
Immediately United put the Sons' defence under pressure, McMullan breaking down the right, his dangerous cross was cut out by the keeper, N’Koyi then used his strength to get in an effort, which was deflected wide.
N’Koyi’s presence was making a difference as he next set up McMullan who drove a cross right through the danger area, but there were no takers.
Briels was cautioned as the game approached the hour mark, for punching the ball away in frustration, he was then further angered as his own weak effort on goal was easily collected by Gallacher.
United fans had their hearts in their mouth as a wicked twenty five yard free kick, from the impressive Froxylias, was spilled by Lewis, thankfully he gathered the rebound before Smith could connect. United then had a great chance when King did well to set up Briels and he had a powerful effort from 18yards, which was deflected for a corner. N’Koyi then stung the keeper’s palms with a strong effort as United put more and more pressure on the Dumbarton defence.
McMullan then fired high and wide from just inside the area. The United fans screamed for a penalty as the ball appeared to come off the hands of Stuart Carswell, but referee Aitken did not blink. Gallacher then got down well to cut out a King cross as United sought a, by now, deserved equaliser. McMullan should have scored on the seventieth minute, arriving late at the far post but his header flew two yards over an unattended goal.
Christian Nade replaced Marson. A fantastic effort from Tom Walsh nearly had Dumbarton two goals up, a well hit dipping shot that Lewis palmed onto the bar. McDonald was the next to waste an opportunity, his shout from six yards, like so many before it, sailing over the bar.
Keating’s nearly made an immediate impact, after he came on as a sub, but just could not stretch enough after a slide rule pass from King. Gallagher, for Dumbarton, then went close as he waltzed passed three defenders, before Edjenguele blocked his goal bound effort.
James Keatings did come to United’s rescue with just four minutes remaining, firing in a delightful free kick from twenty yards out after King had been fouled.
Full Time: United 1-1 Dumbarton
Summary: Biggest question for the manager will be why it took United an hour to get going. After the hour mark United were absolutely dominant and should and could have scored several goals. But for a defensive slip very early United did not look under threat, but they themselves did not really pose Dumbarton any issues until two thirds of the game already passed.
Man of the match: James Keatings - this may seem strange given a fleeting ten minute performance, but the goal may prove very important at the business end of the season.
Dundee United: Lewis, Murdoch, Quinn, McMullan, McDonald, Fraser ( King 57 ), Stanton ( N’Koyi 45 ), Edjenguele, Robson, Briels ( Keatings 81 ), Fyvie (c)
Unused Subs: Mehmet, Durnan, Toshney, Flood
Dumbarton: Gallacher, Smith ( Gallagher 80 ), McLaughlin, Carswell, Walsh, Wardrop, Hutton, Hill, Morrison ( Nade 70 ), Froxylias ( Roy 89 ), Barr (c)
Unused Subs: Ewings, Wilson, Johnston, Prior,
Referee: Greg Aitken