The Dundee United Football Club Historical Archive. Preserving United History Since 2006.
United matched their hosts by lining up in 4-4-2 formation, with Johnny Russell partnering Jon Daly up front. The starting eleven showed two changes from the side that faced Aberdeen with Willo Flood replacing Robbie Neilson at right back, and Garry Kenneth coming in to partner Sean Dillon at centre half in place of Gavin Gunning.United had struggled to settle with Airdrie closing down relentlessly, but after this early scare the visitors responded well and opened the scoring on 17 minutes. Mackay-Steven turned Kevin Green inside out on the left flank before playing a clever pass into the path of John Rankin and the midfielder did the rest - driving into the box to send a fine low finish in at the far post from 8 yards. With just two minutes to the interval, United established a two goal cushion. Again Mackay-Steven was involved. The winger’s low cut-back picked out Russell whose deft lay-off was latched onto by Scott Robertson and the midfielder placed a beautiful finish into the top corner of the net from 12 yards. With Richie Ryan now on in place of Armstrong, United looked to have put the tie beyond Airdrie just after the hour mark. The home defence failed to clear Flood’s dangerous cross from the right and when the ball fell to Johnny Russell he sent an unstoppable drive into the roof of net from the edge of the box. By now it was largely one-way traffic toward the Airdrie goal, and Johnny Russell grabbed his second on 78 minutes, stooping to head home another excellent Dixon cross. The fifth followed just two minutes later with Gary Mackay-Steven collecting Robertson's pin-point cross-field pass and dispatching a powerful left foot shot low past Fairley. Barry Douglas replaced Mackay-Steven and Paul Lovering picked up the third and final caution of the game for a late tackle on Robertson as the game entered the closing stages. Still United pushed forward and Johnny Russell completed his hat trick on 84 minutes. His first attempt was well saved by Fairley, and Dalle Valle’s effort was blocked by a defender before Russell made sure with his follow-up shot. Full credit to Airdrie – despite being six behind they kept playing and Ryan Donnelly took his impressive goals tally to 22 from 23 games with a late double. First, the 20 year old showed great composure to round Pernis and slot home; then Ryan Donnelly rose to meet a cross from the right and send a precision header into the corner of the net with virtually the last touch of the match.