The Dundee United Football Club Historical Archive. Preserving United History Since 2006.
United made three changes to the side that lost out in the weekend Cup Final. Dillon, Bilate and Dixon all missed out. Ciftci returned, as did Erskine and Spittal. Rankin moved to left back to cover for Dixon who was suspended.Incredibly, United could have had a man sent off after a minute when goalkeeper Cierzniak crashed into Griffiths just outside the penalty box. The 'keeper could consider himself lucky to receive only a yellow card. Celtic continued to press United back and Griffiths fired a Stokes' cross right at Cierzniak. That was to be a warning United did not heed. Soon after, Stokes' drifted in a dangerous free-kick and Belgian centre-back Jason Denayer looped home the header. It was one way traffic for most of the first half as Celtic dominated. Both James Forrest and Griffiths both had a number of opportunities. Then Celtic hit the woodwork when Forrest beat John Rankin on the wing and sent over a cross which Cierzniak palmed against the crossbar. While just one goal down, United were still in the cup tie and they almost did close to half time. McGowan's moved to the touchline and his cut back was parried by Gordon but United forward Nadir Ciftci had given up hope and lost his chance to equalise.United were much more effective in the opening minutes of the second half than they were for the whole of the first half, with McGowan and Ciftci both creating problems. Just as they looked to be getting back into the game, Leigh Griffiths volleyed home after catching Scott Brown's long pass as it dropped over his head. Cierzniak tipped a Stokes shot round the post, but United could not hold out any longer and when Kris Commons played a one-two with John Guidetti, the midfileder was able to latch on to the return and stroke home. Stokes and McGowan both saw red within a few minutes of each other. Stokes for lashing out at Paton with an elbow, and the Australian for a heavy and late tackle on Liam Henderson. Virgil van Dijk combined with Denayer in the final minute to score a goal of his own and seal a easy victory for Celtic. United trooped of looked bereft of energy and confidence. The bad news for them is that they need to return to Celtic park in just a few days for a league match.Assistant Manager's Comment:It's astonishing the number of sending offs. I think it's the current game. I've certainly been involved in a lot more robust games over the years than the three that we've watched. I've not seen the McGowan tackle at the end. I've had reports it's a good, strong tackle. I think the reaction of the Celtic players on the back of them just having a red card possibly influences the referee, but I'll need to see it again. I don't think the games have been dirty. There's been incidents in all three games. I don't think there's been six red cards in the three games."Fan's Comment:So that is our season effectively over. It is clear that while United will always be a selling club, the January transfer window is not the time to do your selling. Although often inconsistent, losing two of our most influential midfield players (on their day) has left the Manager with a major headache in not only replacing their pace, skill and attacking flair but also the task of re-structuring the team and formation to suit what is left at the club. That re-structuring of team formation can be done in the close season, it can't be done in just a few days leading up to two of the most important games of our season. We may have lost a bit of money on the pair if we'd waited until the summer but at least it would have given us the time to re-organise around the sale and a better chance of collecting some silver this season.Match Photos courtesy of Riki Grauer - More photos available at:Dundee United Official Flickr Page