Disappointment on the opening day of the season for United as they lose 3-2 to Championship rivals Dunfermline.
By Ian Isbister
United went into today’s opening game of the season with Dunfermline unbeaten in their last 15 games against the Pars. With 2 ex Dunfermline players in Nicky Clark and Fraser Aird now in United’s starting eleven, and ex United player Mark Durnan now playing for Allan Johnston’s side, today’s game was sure to have plenty of talking points. United edged the Fifers out of the play-offs at the end of last season and the two sides were sure to kick off the season as some of the favourites to win the Championship.
Both sides started strongly and the immaculate Tannadice surface was perfect for a rich vein of passing in the opening exchanges. United’s Stanton and Barton took advantage in the opening minutes to supply the twin partnership of Clark and Curran with plenty of through balls to run onto.
Despite looking sharp it took until the 15th minute for United to create their first real chance of the game with Curran the provider on this occasion as his header was straight into the path of Clark whose firmly struck shot skimmed past Robinson’s right-hand post. The end to end action was only broken up by the niggly fouls being committed by both sides. Three bookings in the first half and a host of free-kicks in the middle of the park only served to heighten the tension between both sets of players. Dunfermline were causing the United defence plenty of trouble as the pace of Hippolyte and El Bakhtaoui created several chances in the first half hour.
With no other clear cut chances it looked as if the first half would end goalless until United made the breakthrough in 43 minutes. The home side won a free-kick 40 yards from goal and as Rabitsch’s ball was floated into the box it resulted in an old fashioned stramash. Eventually Edjenguele was able to head the ball into the path of Clark. The ex Dunfermline striker, so prolific in his time at East End Park, made no hesitation in firing past Robinson to give United a 1-0 lead to take into the dressing room at half-time.
Manager Csaba Laszlo made an immediate change for the beginning of the second half. Another ex Dunfermline player, Fraser Aird, came on for Rabitsch, the latter having been booked in the first half and involved in one or two battles.
The Pars were nearly level in the opening 60 seconds of the second half as Hippolyte took an opportunistic shot from over 45 yards out. His looping effort had Rakovan scrambling back to his goal line and tipping the ball over for a corner. Dunfermline had started the second half much stronger than United and were now seeing plenty of possession. In 59 minutes they had their efforts rewarded with an equaliser. El Bakhtaoui set up Thomson on the edge of the box, and his left foot effort was firmly placed into Rakovan’s left hand corner of the United goal.
Just eight minutes later the Pars were ahead. A speculative cross into the United box was met by Jackson Longridge and his powering header into the United goal made it 2-1 to the Fifers.
Worse was to come for United as in 83 minutes it was 3-1 to Dunfermline. Keeping it in the family, it was Jackson’s brother Louis this time who was on hand to score for the Pars. As the visitors streamed forward the ball fell to Longridge in the centre of the box and his right foot shot was too much for Rakovan who despite his best efforts couldn’t keep out the fierce drive.
At 3-1 down the United players were clearly stunned but they did look to make amends and were awarded a free-kick just outside the box in 89 minutes. Fraser Aird stepped up and his low curling effort found the right hand corner of Robinson’s goal to make it 3-2.
Despite the late rally, United couldn’t muster an equaliser and now travel to Queen of the South to look for their first win of the campaign.
Man of the Match - Yannick Loemba. Not many standouts for United today but the new signing showed plenty of trickery and a range of passes that should see him become a fans' favourite.
Dundee United: Rakovan, Wardrop, Frans, Edjenguele, Robson (McMullan 83mins), Stanton, Rabitsch (Aird 45 mins), Barton, Loemba, Curran (Smith 72 mins), Clark,
Subs not used - Siegrist, Allardice, Glass, Watson
Dunfermline Athletic: Robinson, Durnan, Ashcroft, Devine (Ryan 90 mins), Craigan, Longridge, Vincent, Thomson, Longridge, El Bakhtaoui, Hippolyte,
Subs not used - Connolly, Gill, Luke, Smith, Allan, Todd
Referee - William Collum,
Bookings - United: Edjenguele - 12 mins, Rabitsch - 30 mins
Dunfermline: El Bakhtaoui - 30 mins, Vincent - 73 mins, Thomson - 80 mins