The Dundee United Football Club Historical Archive. Preserving United History Since 2006.
Dundee United traveled to McDiarmid Park with memories of their League Cup Quarter Final defeat to St Johnstone earlier in the season still fresh in the mind. Peter Houston made only one change to the side that drew 4-4 with Kilmarnock in the league, Sean Dillon coming into the side to replace the injured Mihael Kovacevic at right back. For St Johnstone, ex-Chelsea star Michael Duberry went straight in to the starting eleven after signing the previous day to give the Perth side a boost following their midweek disappointment against Rangers at Hampden.The fact that this was to be a hard-fought cup tie was evident from kick-off. Within two minutes, Saints’ Gary Irvine found himself in referee Craig Thomson’s book after a crude late challenge on Craig Conway on the halfway line. United were to dominate the opening 45 minutes and it was them that carved out the first real chance of the match when a mazy run from David Goodwillie saw him make the byline before cutting back inside and forcing St Johnstone goalkeeper Graeme Smith to parry from point blank range. United should have taken the lead after 20 minutes when excellent link-up play down the left between Craig Conway and Goodwillie led to Danny Swanson having a free header in the middle of the box but he failed to connect with any force and Smith was left with an easy save. Just a minute later, Prince Buaben broke through the home defence but he fired his close-range shot straight at Smith from a tight angle. United continued to pressurise the Saints and Goodwillie fired over from 12 yards after a delightful first time through ball from Swanson. St Johnstone came back into the game for a short spell and a 25-yard free kick from ex-United man Danny Grainger was well held by Pernis while Sean Dillon was then required to make a last-ditch interception as Filipe Morais bore down on goal with 38 minutes gone. However, United were determined not to finish the first half without a goal and Goodwillie continued to terrorise the Saints defence. After 41 minutes, Swanson did well to rob Grainger after a free kick mix-up with Morais and broke through the middle at pace. He laid the ball through to Goodwillie who tried to round goalkeeper Smith only to drag the ball too wide, allowing the Saints to get men behind the ball and the chance was gone. Right on half-time United finally took the lead. Craig Conway swung in the corner from the right which Smith failed to get his hands to. In the ensuing goalmouth scramble, David Goodwillie finally got his goal as he fired high into the net from just a few yards out.United could have been two up seven minutes after the break as Prince Buaben again found himself in on goal but Smith was able to get the merest of touches to put the ball wide from Buaben’s flicked shot. Paul Dixon was then the right man in the right place for United as Morais played in substitute Peter MacDonald on the left hand side. He rounded Pernis in the United goal but as he tried to pass it into the net, Dixon was on the line to clear easily. A quieter spell followed as both teams cancelled each other out. Craig Conway threatened with a half-volley that Smith gathered at his near post while St Johnstone boss Derek McInnes threw on all of his substitutes as the home side desperately sought an equaliser. The closest they came was a Michael Duberry header from a corner and another header from Paul Sheerin in the dying seconds. It could also have been 2-0 to United in stoppage time as substitute David Robertson saw his right-foot shot hit the junction of post and bar but one goal was enough to fire United into the quarter final draw. In a keenly contested match, two other St Johnstone players found themselves in the book following Irvine’s early caution – ex-United man Danny Grainger saw yellow for a foul on Swanson while Dave Mackay was booked in the dying seconds for a foul on Conway.