The Dundee United Football Club Historical Archive. Preserving United History Since 2006.
A young, experimental United side went down 2-1 to Rangers this afternoon at Tannadice, courtesy of first-half goals from Kris Boyd and Nacho Novo, although a late goal from the home side made the closing stages nervy for Walter Smith’s side. Peter Houston had hinted he may tinker with his starting eleven to include some fringe men, and he made six changes to the side that lost six days ago to Celtic. Teenager Craig Hill was handed a starting debut at centre back, while Kevin Smith was given his first start of the campaign up front along side Argentinean Damien Casalinuovo. Partnering Hill in the heart of defence was Garry Kenneth, who was given the captain’s arm band at just 22 years old in the absence of Darren Dods and Andy Webster. His opposite number, David Weir, will celebrate his 40th birthday next week.But it was a tough start to the match for Houston’s young side, who fell a goal behind and lost their most experienced player on the pitch within minutes.The visitors took the lead inside two minutes when John Fleck and Kris Boyd combined to give the Scotland striker his 100th league goal for Rangers. And things went from bad to worse when Danny Cadamarteri was injured shortly after, having landed awkwardly on his left shoulder. He was replaced by 18-year-old Ryan Dow, which meant the average age of the United side was just 22 years of age.Fleck almost doubled the lead on the quarter hour mark, but skipper Kenneth was able to deflect his effort wide. And the 18 year-old was again in the thick of things when he teed up Nacho Novo on the edge of the box, but the Spaniard fired his shot high and wide of the mark.As United struggled to break Rangers’s stranglehold on the game, Dusan Pernis was by far the busier of the two keepers in the opening forty-five. Novo broke down the right flank and squared the ball to Boyd inside the box. But his tame side-footed effort was straight into the hands of the waiting Pernis. But shortly before the interval Rangers grabbed the second they had threatened to do throughout. Novo beat Sean Dillon to break into the box, and he drilled a low hard drive across the goal which beat Pernis to nestle in the left-hand corner of the net.Neither side made any substitutes during the break, and Kevin Smith had an opportunity after the re-start when Keith Watson whipped the ball into the box from the right flank. His header, however, looped high over the crossbar.Ryan Dow was causing real problems down the left-hand side for the Rangers back line, and he cut the ball back across the box for Casalinuovo, but he flicked his attempt over the bar, much to the relief of Neil Alexander.Scott Robertson replaced Price Buaben with a little over 20 minutes to go, and he had a chance shortly after coming on but poked his effort wide.With 10 minutes to go, a scrappy goal that was credited to Casalinuovo initially, but seemed to take a touch off David Robertson before going in, gave United hope. Ryan Dow’s corner was headed downwards by Casalinuovo, and flicked off Robertson before bouncing awkwardly for the keeper and into the back of the net.Boyd slotted the ball home for the finish of the match, which was chalked off for offside, before United created the move of the match.Scott Robertson threaded the ball through to fellow substitute Andis Shala, who raced towards the box. He flicked the ball to David Robertson without the outside of his left foot, before the ball was then squared to Dow.But the winger was unable to cap an impressive debut with a goal as his effort was deflected. David Robertson then had a strong penalty claim waived away, before Dow would again create a fine chance for United, which was a fraction too high for either forward top latch on to.