The Dundee United Football Club Historical Archive. Preserving United History Since 2006.
Despite welcoming back skipper Maurice Malpas back for his first game of the season, there was an early blow for the Tangerines as Tatran took the lead after only ten minutes after winning their first corner of the match. Hoger's kick was dummied by the influential Zvara and Tatran captain Skalka ran in to thump the ball low into the bottom left hand corner. Fortunately, United hit back quickly and again it was a corner which led to the goal. Billy McKinlay swung over a corner from the right and Gordan Petrić powered in a header which Skalka on the line couldn't keep out as he diverted the ball into the roof of the net. United gained in confidence from that early reply and skipper Maurice Malpas was only inches away with a dipping long ranger. The Slovaks, however, were still dangerous on the break as they formed a greenshirted barrier to continue to frustrate United's attacking efforts. And that threat on the break meant United fell behind again when Gordan Petric pulled Hoger to the ground and Zvara steered the spot kick just far enough away from Alan Main. After a relatively slow start, United gradually stepped up the pressure and eight minutes after the teams turned round Gordan Petric clattered the upright with rocket-like first time shot from 25 yards. Both subs were thrown on for Ristic and Brewster and within three minutes of Christian Dailly coming on, Gordan Petric and Dave Bowman combined with the latter feeding David Hannah who cunningly beat the Slovak defence before curling in the equaliser over the diving keeper from just inside the box. Three minutes later, United's fight back was complete. Billy McKinlay floated a free kick from just inside the visitor's half in the direction of Brian Welsh at the far post. The United central defender headed the ball back across goal for David Hannah to put us ahead for the first time in the tie. Billy McKinlay twice went close and Jakubech punched away a 25 yarder from Christian Dailly, but the come back had taken its toll with Tatran surviving the last few minutes in reasonable comfort to restrict the deficit to a single goal, but had United known that would have been the outcome at half-time they would have gladly settled for that!Golac said afterwards "I couldn't believe it was us the way we played in the first half. I am still very disappointed with the performance even although we won the game. We'll see a different Dundee United in the second leg and I am still very confident we'll reach the last sixteen."
Taking all the circumstances into account, I thought a draw with Motherwell last Saturday was a fair result. We played well in the first half, but things were difficult for us after Billy McKinlay was sent off, because it upset the balance of the side. The manner in which we played in the opening half an hour or was almost a perfect example of exactly what I am trying to achieve here. We knocked the ball about confidently and with purpose and produced some fine football which made it difficult for Motherwell to get into the game. But, as I have had to say too often in the past, having got in front with a superb goal from Dragutin Ristic, we proceeded to again shoot ourselves in the foot, as we do all too often, by losing yet another preventable goal through bad marking. When good teams go one up they hang on to that lead and we must concentrate our minds and work hard to ensure that we don't let a lead slip as we have done all too often in the past. In addition, we must become more ruthless and kill opponents off when we have them over a barrel as we did in the opening period of last Saturday's game with Motherwell. There is no doubt in my mind that we are getting towards what I want, but we must start doing it for the whole ninety minutes and not just for periods of a match. Of course, we were without Dave Bowman, Craig Brewster and Maurice Malpas last weekend and I fully expect all three to come back in the reckoning this evening which will be a major boost to us.Tonight we embark on the European trail and from what we know of our Slovak opponents, they will try to play football and utilise a sweeper system. This should suit us, and I am very confident about the outcome of the tie as a whole. Not that we will be underestimating them. Our preparation towards tonight has been geared as if we are facing Sampdoria with concentration and discipline being instilled into the lads to prevent a repeat of the way in which we lost the lead against Motherwell. A combination of concentration and ability means you have 60% of the requirements to be an outstanding team. Obviously, in view of the away goals ruling, it is absolutely essential that we do not concede a home goal and if we can avoid doing that, I see no reason why we shouldn't progress to the second round of the Cup Winners Cup.