The Dundee United Football Club Historical Archive. Preserving United History Since 2006.
A repeat of the scoreline and scorer when Hibs came to Tannadice on league business last November was enough to earn us a place in the semi-final of this season's Tennents Scottish Cup had it not been for Andy Goram, however, there is no doubt that our passage to the semis would have been by a far greater margin. The early stages of the tie did not augur too well for us though as Hibs dominated play and could well have gone ahead in the eighth minute. Houchen played the ball back into the path of Hamilton who smacked the ball against the face of the crossbar from some 20 yards out. The first act of defiance by Goram came in the 21st minute when he held a glancing header by Mixu Paatelainen after Billy McKinlay had floated in a free-kick. At the other end Alan Main under pressure from Houchen dropped a cross and only Freddy Van Der Hoorn's intervention prevented Collins from scoring, but even although only 30 minutes had elapsed that was really the last occasion on which Alan Main was troubled. Two minutes later Goram pulled off a save almost in the miracle category. Freddy Van Der Hoorn found Maurice Malpas out on the left and the United skipper laid the ball back to John Clark whose header was somehow kept out by Goram. The Scottish lnternationalist 'keeper then tipped a chip from Paddy Connolly round the post. A minute before half-time Goram was beaten. Freddy Van Der Hoorn hoisted a long free-kick deep into the Hibs penalty area. It fell to Darren Jackson, who with his back to goal hooked the ball past a helpless Goram.The Hibs'keeper, however, foiled Darren Jackson in the second half, Darren turned quickly to clear his path to goal but Goram beat away his shot and almost immediately afterwards Goram was in action again to turn away an overhead kick from Maurice Malpas. Mixu Paatelainen blasted over but we just couldn't get the second goal which would have surely have made our progress to the semis a certainty. There was only one minor scare before our entry into the last four was conlirmed and that came two minutes from the time when substitute Paul Wright drove a free-kick just past the post, but there could be no doubting that we deserved our victory.
When you look back over the season, today's tie with Hibs assumes even greater importance than normal. In my opinion the Scottish Cup is always the second most important trophy on the domestic front. As we have no chance of winning the League the Cup gives us our last chance to give our supporters something to talk about, so it is very, very important that we win this afternoon's tie. Whether we are good enough to win the Cup or not is irrelevant. At this stage all that is important is winning our way through to the semi-final of the competition. However, Hibs recent form will make today's game even more difficult for us, but it is a match we are capable of winning provided we play to our full potential. Nothing else will do. In recent weeks, I have been taking the opportunity to give as many of the younger players as much first team experience as possible. Now they realise how difficult it is to attain the consistency necessary to become a regular member of the first team. The vital nature of this afternoon's Cup tie calls for players with experience of the occasion and consequently I won't be taking any chances over my team selection. At the time of writing I did have a couple of headaches as to who to play, but at least that is a vast improvement on how things were at the start of the season when I had nine positions causing me headaches!