The Dundee United Football Club Historical Archive. Preserving United History Since 2006.
For this Tayside derby, both sides were forced into making several changes. Saints lost the services of Cherry, Baltacha and Moore due to injury, whilst Duncan Ferguson was a flu-victim and out of the reckoning in our ranks and Hamish French replaced him. John Clark had recovered from the knee injury which had kept him out of the side for the past two League games and he replaced Alex Cleland in defence. Andy McLaren and Mixu Paatelainen were recalled to the attack with Michael O'Neill relegated to the subs bench and Gary Bollan dropping out. So in total there were four changes from the side which had gone down heavily at Parkhead. Saints made full use of the wind advantage they elected to have in the first half with Lindsay Hamilton twice launching punts into the heart of the United penalty area, but Guido Van De Kamp dealt with both very competently. The game sprung into life in the tenth minute when Hamish French set off on a mazy run past 3 or 4 Saints defenders before he prodded the ball home with his left foot from just inside the box. Immediately afterwards we would have scored again but for the timely (or untimely from our stance) intervention of Harry Curran. Again Hamish French was involved. He cut in from the right and switched the ball to the unmarked Billy McKinlay, who rounded Hamilton, only to see his shot saved on the line by his former Tannadice colleague. For the rest of the half play was largely confined to the congested midfield area. Though Saints finished the first half much better than they started it they were very lucky not to go in at half-time trailing by two goals, because John Clark hit the post with a header from a McLaren comer on the stroke of the interval. Saints certainly had more possession in the second half, but rarely threatened. Up until the later stages, Guido Van De Kamp's only enforced activity was to clear from Paul Wright with his feet and dive at the feet of Harry Curran. The whole character of the match changed with 13 minutes left. Dave Narey was adjudged to have deliberately handled a cross. A penalty was given. Dave was ordered off for a second bookable offence. Saints grabbed the life-line; Mark Treanor scored from the spot and we lost our composure to allow Saints to grab a winner five minutes from time when Paul Wright headed home.
I am sure that events at Parkhead seven days ago, spoilt last Saturday night for anyone with United leanings. Frankly, our performance when Celtic were in possession was pathetic and the players might as well have been sitting in the front row of the stand for all the effort they put in when trying to win back the ball! We conceded only eight fouls in the match and whilst I, in no way condone rough play, that figure is indicative of our frailties in the area of ball-winning against Celtic. Indeed, it is a long time since I can recall so many bad performances in one game. When you field so many young players as we have been doing this season, you expect inconsistency, but that is not really the root cause of our problem, because lapses in form seem to be afflicting almost all the players at different times. Injuries certainly haven't helped us this season. Last weekend everyone was talking about Rangers injury problems, but we weren't far behind them with Rojas, Ferreyra, John Clark, Welsh, Muller, Jackson and John O'Neil all unavailable. Infact with so many injuries this season, nobody could say they haven't had a first team chance with 23 players already having been at of the season gone. In the case of Gary Bollan I have kept him in the side for too long and probably shouldn't have brought him back against Airdrie, but it must be remembered that he is still only 18. In the first half at Parkhead and in some cases longer than that, the contribution by some players was nothing short of woeful. Normally, you'd expect to be in a position to bring in players from the reserves, but our injury predicament has precluded such action. What we badly need is for a clean bill of health for the casualties and then a lengthy injury-free run. Today we have an attractive local derby against St. Johnstone. They are always difficult opponents and last season they took three points from their two visits here. So a United victory is overdue, especially if we are to atone for last week's poor performance against Celtic.