The Dundee United Football Club Historical Archive. Preserving United History Since 2006.
United opened the season at Somerset Park, defending their hold on the League Cup after last seasons final victory over Dundee at Dens Park. 19 year-old striker John Reilly, who had been a regular scorer during pre-season, was given a starting place ahead of Davie Dodds, and with skipper Paul Hegarty missing through injury, new signing George Nicol was given a place on the bench.United started in determined manner, with Paul Sturrock shooting inches wide, but the holders suffered an early setback when the First Division side took a 6th minute lead. In their first real attack, Jim Kean found space and cut the ball back to Bobby Connor who tapped the ball into the net. United stepped up the pace to try and get back on level terms, but the home side were marking tightly and attacking on the break. Their hard work paid off when full-back Steve Nicol collected an Ian McAllister pass and doubled their lead with a vicious shot in the 26th minute. Two minutes later Sturrock caught Ayr stretched at the back and set up Eamonn Bannon to pull one back for United. Bannon then set up Sturrock who mis-kicked from just five yards out. It was a costly miss, as a long ball from Nicol found ex-United striker Derek Frye who rounded Hamish McAlpine before slotting the ball into the empty net to give the home side a shock 3-1 lead at half-time.Two minutes into the second half and United earned a controversial penalty, when Willie Pettigrew, who had come on for John Reilly at the interval, crossed into the box where the ball struck McAllister's arm. Eamonn Bannon converted the spot-kick to reduce the deficit. Pettigrew's introduction allowed Bannon and Sturrock to find more time and space on the ball, and it was Paul Sturrock who pulled United level with a long range shot past Stuart Rennie in the 63rd minute. With 15 minutes remaining Rennie could only block Sturrock's shot and Eamonn Bannon completed his hat-trick by firing home the rebound. Ayr had their chances to get back into the game, with Shanks and Frye coming close as well as a decent shout for a penalty, but United held on for an entertaining win.