The Dundee United Football Club Historical Archive. Preserving United History Since 2006.
Whilst lying in sixth place, 12 points behind leaders Celtic, United still weren't mathematically out of the title race, however a European spot was now a more realistic target. Jim McLean made only two changes from last weeks trip to Pittodrie, with Ralph Milne and Maurice Malpas in for Eamonn Bannon and Billy Kirkwood, but there was also some re-shuffling within the starting eleven. Richard Gough was moved into the centre of defence alongside Paul Hegarty, with Dave Narey pushed forward into a midfield role.United threatened in the second minute when a slick move between Paul Sturrock, Ralph Milne and Ian Gibson set up Maurice Malpas, but the youngster's 20 yard shot was turned away by Roy Baines' fingertips. However Paul Sturrock broke the deadlock in the 13th minute, taking a Davie Dodds flick in his stride, sprinted into the penalty area and rounded Baines to score. Two minutes later and Paul Sturrock claimed his second when he headed home from close range after Hegarty had nodded on a John Holt corner. Morton's first serious chance came in the 20th minute, when Hamish McAlpine did well to clear a McNeil free-kick effort away for a corner. Dodds and Narey twice combined to create chances, but Baines dealt with both efforts. Hegarty, set up by Sturrock, missed a great chance on the half-hour mark, screwing wide from six yards, and McNeil scorned a great chance for Morton when he shot over from close-in after a mix up between McAlpine and Hegarty at a corner.Nine minutes into the second half Paul Sturrock completed his first ever senior hast-trick when he wheeled to crash home United's third. Just one minute later, Ralph Milne rifled a 20 yarder past the heroic Baines. Ralph Milne then grabbed his second when he finished off a scintillating move in the 72nd minute to complete a comprehensive victory.The win kept United in the chase for that fourth spot European place, just four points behind St Mirren, and ten points behind Celtic, with the League leaders up next at Tannadice.
It is extremely difficult to express the bitter disappointment experienced here amongst the staff concerning the events of the last few weeks, and in fact months. Starting away back when lost the League Cup final, on to the Scottish Cup exit and then of course disastrous elimination from the UEFA Cup ten days ago - to think of what we had on our plate! Mind you, there will be absolutely no excuse for that most recent disappointment in Yugoslavia. No side can expect to succeed without a midfield division which never at any time gets forward to test the opposition. And yet defence that afternoon was the last thing on anybody's mind. It appears that a psychological barrier was set up by certain members of the side and even a reminder at the interval failed to break it down. The lack of confidence in the refereeing hardly helped matters though. All of which proves to me~at least that we have a long long way to go to create the right mental approach for such a level of top competition. Sadly that level was not reached when it mattered and my sympathies now lie with you the fans who expected and deserved better - and a certain number of members of the side. It all boils down to the fact that for too long we have relied on too few for too much. Allow me to single out Derek Stark especially for his performance in Nis. I hope he will excuse me for mentioning that in certain aspects of the game he falls short, but where it matters one can never accuse the full-back of giving other than the maximum of effort. And the same went for the remainder of the back four on that particular occasion. Naturally our failings of late have again highlighted the need to add to certain departments of the side, namely in midfield and up front. However, concerning the class we require, the asking prices are outwith our capabilities.