The Dundee United Football Club Historical Archive. Preserving United History Since 2006.
Just five minutes separated United from their first derby victory since April 2002 when Dundee talisman Steve Lovell snatched a dramatic leveller to leave the sides with one point a-piece. On the back of Dundee’s second half display it was probably a deserved equaliser, but United will regret not building on their early lead, enjoying much the better of the first half. Ahead of the game, the biggest surprise – and for the media, the biggest let-down – was the non-appearance of United’s ex-Dundee player Lee Mair, who apparently had picked up an injury in a training ground clash with Paul Ritchie. Nick Colgan went straight into the deep end with a derby debut having signed just yesterday on-loan from Barnsley. With Barry Robson beginning a two-match suspension, Stuart Duff came in to the side at left-midfield. Mark Kerr started where he left off against Dunfermline at centre midfield, with Grant Brebner dropping onto the bench and James Grady filling in at right midfield. United opted for a familiar 4-4-2 formation, with Dundee lining up 4-3-3, Caballero, Lovell and McManus all in attack.The three-pronged attack always looked dangerous on the break. But for most of the first half United took full advantage of the extra man in midfield and pegged Dundee back with some good passing moves with Wilson and Grady in particular enjoying a lot of freedom on the right. After the early sparring the first chance fell to Grady after 10 minutes but his shot was defected just a fraction wide into the side-netting. Dundee responded immediately and Wilkie looked certain to head home a Stephen Robb corner before team mate Neil Barrett got in the road. Dundee would immediately regret that miss: Grady and Wilson again found space on the right, Wilson crossed for McIntyre to head down, and Stuart Duff forced the ball home as McDonald sought to clear. United were firmly in control at this stage but couldn’t build on their lead. Crawford came close after 25 minutes getting onto the end of a McInnes lob-pass and with Wilkie struggling to get back the striker’s shot across goal beat Soutar – but just passed the far post. Dundee rallied before half time with Caballero almost pouncing when Colgan could only parry a Fotheringham shot, then the keeper saved well from Lovell. Overall, however, United were worthy of the half-time lead.Dundee emerged after the interval without Lee Wilkie who had earlier picked up an ankle knock in a challenge with McIntyre – Bobby Mann stepped into his centre-half berth. At the start of the second period the Dundee defence looked shaky as it tried to readjust to the enforced change, and United looked to add a second. McIntyre almost redirected a half-hit Duff shot into the net, but Soutar gathered. Soutar again saved well low to his right after a McIntyre run and shot. With the killer second failing to materialise for United the Dark Blues came more and more into the game. United had a lucky escape after 57 minutes with Archibald and McCracken having to combine to clear a Caballero shot off the line. Brebner came on for McInnes as United sought to regain control of the midfield, but Dundee were not to be denied and after neat build up play between Caballero and McDonald on the right, Caballero’s high hanging cross was headed home from close range by McManus after 71 minutes. Goalscorer McManus was then replaced by Sutton, but United seemed to step up a gear and regained the lead on 78 minutes. A nice switch of play by Brebner relased Wilson on the right – he neatly side-stepped Caballero and his cut-back was headed home by McIntyre, aided by a small deflection off Sancho. A first derby win for manager Ian McCall looked on the cards – but the lead was not to last. With just five minutes left on the clock the United defence looked static as Lovell nipped in to get the slightest of touches from close range to convert a McDonald cross. Both teams pressed forward looking for a winner, but despite a couple of close escapes at each end, the game was to finish even. While Arabs will have been gutted to see a lead lost twice, overall a draw was certainly fair after a cracking four goal derby thriller.