The Dundee United Football Club Historical Archive. Preserving United History Since 2006.
Justice was seen to be done when we collected both points after Saturday's abandonment when we led 2-1. Dunfermline had marginally the better of the first half, but only until we scored. In the 17th minute Ross Jack failed to get enough power behind a header from an O'Boyle cross and only minutes later a flying save from Alan Main kept out a Paul Smith shot from the edge of the box. Our best chance up until our goal came when Maurice Malpas found Darren Jackson deep in the Pars penalty area. Rhodes blocked his shot and Paddy Connolly blasted the loose ball wide. Three minutes later we did go ahead. Hamish French sent in a cross from the left was headed down by Paddy Connolly to Dave Bowman who forced the ball over the line. Any hopes Dunfermline had of salvaging something from the game all but disappeared two minutes into the second half. Billy McKinlay picked up a clearance from his corner on the right and drove the ball into the back of the box where newcomer Gijs Steinmann first timed a right foot shot low past Rhodes near post. Dunfermline did have a good chance four minutes later, but Alan Main palmed away a Ross Jack header at his right hand post. From then on we were in command and Hamish French finished off a surging left wing run by cutting in before releasing a glorious shot bound for the top right corner until Rhodes finger-tipped the ball to safety. It wasn't quite all United though and Alan Main made a good save from O'Boyle. In the last quarter of an hour however, we completely dominated. Freddy Van Der Hoorn fired a shot wide and a minute later a delightful one-two between Mixu Paatelainen and Darren Jackson saw Rhodes react quickly to save at Darren's feet. We finally got a third goal with seven minutes left and no one deserved to score more than Hamish French who had an outstanding match. Freddy Van Der Hoorn played a long free-kick which Mixu Paatelainen headed on to Hamish French who eventually squeezed the ball past Rhodes into the net. By then Dunfermline were a spent force as we recorded our biggest League win at Tannadice since we beat Hibs here 4-1 in December 1988.
There is no doubt that we were given a real fright on Wednesday and hopefully we will have learned from it that nothing is certain in football. The minute you think it is it becomes far, far harder. We were so naive in the first half against FH as we chased the goal that would have finished the game off that we left ourselves completely exposed at the back. Frankly the marking by our defensive set-up was nothing short of disgraceful. With the way that Alex Cleland and Paddy Connolly played when they came on people will no doubt wonder why the pair were not on from the start. In the case of Alex Cleland, I thought he looked very tired from playing twice a week. However, when he did come on, he showed that tiredness is a state of mind. If you accept it, it will show through, but the same tired Alex Cleland was magnificent whilst he was on the field. He was sharp and his distribution was excellent. As far as Paddy Connolly is concerned he has not shown anything like the form expected of him in the games I have seen this season, but again he proved my starting line-up to be wrong by the way he performed when he replaced Christian Dailly on Wednesday. I hope that both players prove me right, this afternoon, when they are included from the start. Exceptional players make a managers job easy and we just cannot afford to have players of the quality of Miodrag Krivokapic, Darren Jackson, Dave Narey and Freddy Van Der Hoorn all missing from our starting line-up. In addition Michael O'Neill was only just returning from his long term injury. As I write these notes changes in the side to face Dunfermline are again inevitable. Certain alterations in midweek were forced upon us and anyone who saw the matches against Celtic and Hearts couldn't argue that Mixu Paatelainen, Raymond McKinnon and Alex Cleland should retain their places, but in hindsight I made too many changes to the side that faced FH. Unfortunately, the injuries to the five aforementioned players left us very, very short of quality players. In addition Jim Mclnally was to have an operation yesterday and Billy Thomson has a thumb injury, but we cannot afford to feel sorry for ourselves and must simply think positively as to how we can recapture our early season form. Finally on a cheerier note I thought Billy McKinlay was once again outstanding on Wednesday and others could do no better than to follow his lead.