The Dundee United Football Club Historical Archive. Preserving United History Since 2006.
Both sides made changes at Tannadice, with United relegating Frank Kopel to the bench to allow John Holt to return, and Ralph Milne came in for Graeme Payne. Wilkie and Tolmie were preferred to Hayes and McNeil in the Morton line-up, a side whose previous two results had been a League win over champions Aberdeen, and a shock 1-0 Scottish Cup victory, also over the Reds.United almost took the lead in five minutes, when a Billy Kirkwood header flew just over following an Eamonn Bannon cross. Then soon after Ralph Milne's shot from point blank range was parried away by Roy Baines. Morton's Bobby Thomson was carried off with torn ligaments after just 11 minutes. United took a deserved lead in the 18th minute when skipper Paul Hegarty headed home from a quick Milne free-kick. Minutes later Hegarty was involved again, heading down for Paul Sturrock's scissor kick which flew just over. In the 24th minute, United were given the opportunity to go two in front when Sturrock was fouled in the box by Wilkie, but United's penalty woes continued when Bannon's spot kick came back off the post - United's fourth penalty miss of the season. Morton nearly made United rue their missed chances when a McNeil header came off the underside of the crossbar before McAlpine cleared the danger.As so often this season, United failed to capitalise on their early pressure, and Morton's effort and determination in the second half stretched United, with a superb defensive display from Dave Narey helping to make his central defensive partner's first half header the eventual winner. The end result kept alive United's slim title hopes, with Celtic's win over Rangers maintaining the eight point gap from the top of the table.
In welcoming you all back to Tannadice this afternoon I take this opportunity of passing on my sincere thanks for your help and co-operation at last week-end's cup-tie against Partick Thistle. As many of you will have seen I appealed yet again in this column for your patience in a cup clash we all knew was going to be difficult. Last Saturday you, the fans, were models of consistency in allowing for the threat of frustration to the side against opponents who were clearly here to attempt just that. Thankfully, with your assistance from the terracing we managed to overcome that threat to advance into the last eight of the competition. And on the evidence of last week I am now even more convinced that with such patient backing from our support, we can offer even better results in the future. I repeat that the subject of patience is not just directed at you the fans — the players themselves have probably had the subject rammed down their throats by me more than any other. And I am delighted to report that once again the evidence of last Saturday showed me that they are now using their maturity and experience to help nullify the frustrations they face in most home games. Today could well prove to be a similar type game to last week, with Morton unlikely to travel here prepared to give much away. And the fact that they are on the crest of a wave at the moment following a couple of splendid results against Premier champions Aberdeen, prove that they will be difficult opponents.