The Dundee United Football Club Historical Archive. Preserving United History Since 2006.
After winning the competition the previous two seasons, United travelled to the national stadium aiming to become only the second club to win the League Cup trophy on three consecutive occasions. Jim McLean went with a more experienced line-up than the previous few weeks, with Derek Stark back in the starting eleven and youngsters Richard Gough and Maurice Malpas on he bench.United threatened as early as the first minute when John Holt put Paul Sturrock in, but the striker shot weakly past. Hamish McAlpine then pulled off a tremendous save from a Derek Johnstone header. Ralph Milne was gifted a chance when a Rangers defender slipped and let him in on goal, but he shot timidly and the chance was gone. The Rangers midfield was now being completely overwhelmed, and Milne had further chances, first heading over before seeing a shot well saved by Jim Stewart. Rangers then managed to string together a few attacks, with both Davie Cooper and Bobby Russell coming close. Before half-time, Sturrock was again put through, but failed with a poor finish. After dominating the first half without taking their chances, United were again first on the offensive after the restart, with Eamonn Bannon forcing Stewart into a good save from a free-kick. United took the lead four minutes into the second half when Paul Sturrock slipped the ball into the path of Ralph Milne just over the half-way line and the winger ran fully thirty yards before shooting low past Stewart. Three minutes later the tie appeared settled in United's favour when Paul Sturrock crashed home a glorious 25 yarder, but a linesman's flag saved Rangers with John Holt having been adjudged to have strayed into an offside position. Referee Eddie Pringle gave the free-kick without consulting his linesman. Sensing a reprieve Rangers took full advantage. Davie Cooper curled home a 20 yard free-kick in typical fashion in the 76th minute and United's dreams were shattered when Ian Redford sent a a curling shot from the left high into the corner of the net with two minutes left. It was a hard one to take after dominating the match for so long, but failed chances and a controversial refereeing decision saw United return to Dundee without that much sought after third trophy.