A stoppage-time strike by Crusaders' Gavin Whyte ended Dundee United's IRN-BRU Cup hopes at Tannadice this afternoon. The Terrors' much-changed side went ahead early in the second half through Fraser Fyvie but the Irish League side levelled through David Cushley before grabbing that late winner.
By Peter Rundo
Despite taking the lead early in the second half, Irish League side Crusaders hit back to deny manager Csaba László a winning start and end our hopes of retaining the IRN-BRU Cup.
His first selection was a combination of fringe players and three from the Development Squad with only Fraser Fyvie, who captained the side, and James Keatings having seen action as second half subs against St Mirren.
United made a nervy start against the Irish part-timers who had hammered Linfield 5-2 shortly after they had lost at Tannadice in the previous round. Indeed, the visitors' high pressing game meant the Tangerines made little headway in attack with a James Keatings strike that was just off target the only time their goal was threatened.
Mind you, in a lacklustre first half, not a lot was happening at the other end either. Crusaders' only real chance of the first period came after 33 minutes. David Cushley won possession just inside the United half and raced forward, but his attempted dink over Deniz went straight into the keeper’s arms.
After the interval Billy King replaced Scott Allardice and the Terrors' tempo increased and was duly rewarded with a goal ten minutes after the restart when Fyvie first timed a 25-yarder into the top right-hand corner.
But that advantage was cancelled out midway through the second half against the run of play. Jamie Glackin won a corner on the left and when the kick came over, the unmarked Cushley had all the time and space in the world to head home from six yards.
United hit back and were unlucky not to regain the lead two minutes later when a King effort slipped through the keeper Brian Jensen’s hands and hit the post, only to rebound into his awaiting arms. Further chances followed as United went all out for the winner, the best of which was a terrific King shot from outside the box which Jensen brilliantly tipped over on the 90 minute mark.
So it was frustrating to say the least that the Tannadice rearguard was caught napping when failing to deal with a long ball from which substitute Gavin Whyte, a one-time United target, stole in to slot home the stoppage time winner.
Man of the Match: not too many enhanced their reputation, but in addition to his terrific goal, skipper Fraser Fyvie led by example and showed his quality.
Dundee United: Deniz, Quinn, McMullan, N’Koyi, Edjenguele, Allardice (King 46), Keatings (Smith 89), Fyvie, Taylor, Ritchie, Hornby. Subs not used: Donaldson, Murdoch, Robson, Chalmers, Thomas.
Crusaders: Jensen, McChrystal, Beverland, Ward, Brown, McClean, Caddell (Burns 87), Forsythe, Snoddy (Whyte 61), Glackin (Owens 81), Cushley.
Subs not used: Dougherty, Coates, Heatley, Kerr.
Attendance: 2,048 (Visitors 102).
Referee: Robert Hennessy (Republic of Ireland).