Alloa Athletic edged out United 5-4 in penalty shoot-out drama at Tannadice this afternoon after the game finishing 1-1 in normal time.
By Ian Isbister and Will Ramsay
United went into today’s game with Reserve team manager Craig Easton and his assistant Scott Robertson taking charge in the dugout, over 300 appearances for United between the pair. This would be the third meeting already this season between the two sides.
United were still looking for their first win after a penalty shoot out loss in the league cup and last week’s 1-1 draw in the Championship. United made four changes to the starting line-up that played in last month’s 3-2 Challenge Cup win over St Johnstone Colts. In came Booth, Edjenguele, Glass and Appere to the starting eleven. Notable additions to the bench were Billy King, making his first start of the season after injury, and Club captain Fraser Fyvie, making his first appearance since December last year after his serious cruciate injury, a welcome sight for manager Csaba Laszlo watching from the stands.
Alloa made four changes to the starting eleven that drew with United last week with Peggie, Robertson, Brown and Shields all coming into the starting line-up.
It was the visitors who had the majority of the possession in the opening exchanges, the more experienced side showing United’s youthful looking team how to hit the ground running. Despite this, it was United who made the breakthrough after 14 minutes. McMullan’s corner was controlled well by Smith on his thigh and his first-time volley from 10 yards out was struck well into the corner of the Alloa net past the diving Parry. 1-0 to United and, although slightly against the run of the play, the quality of the goal itself was worthy of United taking the lead.
Alloa continued to control long parts of the first half and the United defence was kept busy by the quick runs of Zanatta and Spence, Wardrop and Booth being kept on their toes down each flank each time Alloa attacked. At the other end, youngster Archie Thomas was creative and looked to start attacks at any given moment. McMullan, rewarded for his winner in the last round by being named captain for today’s game, was lively down the left wing for United and provided a bit of welcome breathing space for the United rearguard. With no more clear-cut chances in the first half, United went into the break 1-0 ahead.
United began the second half with an immediate change at the back, Graham replacing Booth. In 52 mins, McMullan was unlucky to see his low shot well saved by Parry in the Wasps goal, and just 60 seconds later it was the Alloa keeper again who kept his team in the game when he saved a Thomas shot from just outside the box. The game now moved from end to end with no real goal scoring opportunities. The introductions of King in 65 mins and then Fyvie in 71 mins were a welcome sight for United as the experienced pair would be invaluable additions back into the first team squad. With United apparently looking comfortable, it was a setback when in the 79th minute Alloa were awarded a penalty. The ever-involved Zanatta was fouled inside a packed penalty box and referee Greg Aitken had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Just like in the League Cup encounter earlier in the season, it was Trouten who stepped up for Alloa to make it 1-1; no less than the visitors deserved but hard to take for United who had looked like seeing the game out.
The remaining ten minutes were a tense affair with both sides looking to avoid any mistakes so late in the game. As Aitken blew for full time at 1-1 and the looming penalties, both teams could be satisfied with their afternoon’s efforts.
Unfortunately for United, it was Archie Thomas who had the solitary miss in the penalty shoot-out to give Alloa Athletic a 5-4 victory. Despite the defeat, the young United side gave a good account of themselves and will no doubt have gained valuable experience for the coming season.
Man of the Match - Archie Thomas. Despite his penalty miss, the youngster was always looking to create and was instrumental in starting many of United’s attacks.
Dundee United - Siegrist, Wardrop, Booth (Graham 46 mins),Thomas, Edjenguele, Bolan, McMullan, Zata (Fyvie 71 mins) Smith, Glass, Appere (King 65 mins)
Subs not used - Donaldson (GK), Ward, Inglis, Reekie
Alloa Athletic - Parry, Dick, Graham, Peggie, Taggart, Robertson, Flannigan, Brown (Trouten 57 mins) Zanatta, Shields (Cawley 62 mins),Spence (Aloulou 74 mins),
Subs not used - Hetherington (GK), Karadachki, Henry
Referee - Greg Aitken
Assistants - Daniel McFarlane, and David McKniff
United - Wardrop 23 mins
Alloa - Robertson 11 mins, Zanatta 53 mins, Dick 90 mins, Graham 94 mins