The Dundee United Football Club Historical Archive. Preserving United History Since 2006.
Unitedís defence of the Irn Bru Cup continued with a hard fought late 1-0 victory over the Northern Irish champions. This was Unitedís first competitive game against Linfield, and their first game against Northern Irish opposition since playing Glentoran in the UEFA Cup in September 1989. As in previous rounds, Ray McKinnon took the opportunity to play a predominantly young side, with none of the players who started the previous weekís victory against Dunfermline also starting this game. Linfield fielded a relatively experienced side, and for most of the early stages of the game it showed. Their experience saw them create several chances, although with home keeper Deniz Mehmet in good form, coupled with some wasteful finishing, ensured that the game was goalless at half time.Although United did create the first chance of the game, with Sam Stanton having a good run before shooting just wide, Linfield dominated the first half. Linfieldís first chance came soon afterwards when Aaron Burns broke clear down the right, but his low angled shot was saved by Mehmetís feet. After 17 minutes, Mehmet was forced into action again with a point blank save from Andrew Waterworth, but unknown to either player the linesman had already flagged for offside. Waterworth missed another good chance two minutes later, heading a Kirk Millar cross over the bar when he probably should have scored. Waterworth had a third chance soon afterwards, however could only hit the side netting. Aaron Burns then had a good chance from a long kick out from Linfield goalkeeper Gareth Deane, but his effort was deflected just wide. Later in the half Burns held up the ball with his back to goal before teeing up Robert Garratt, whose fierce drive was beaten away by Mehmet, before the ball finally broke out to Kirk Millar, who hit a powerful strike which just whistled past the top corner with Mehmet beaten for once. United nearly snatched the lead just before half time when Matty Smith cut inside and shot, but his effort was inches over the bar.Ten minutes into the second half, Stewart Murdoch nearly scored an embarrassing own goal when he stuck out a leg to stop a cross and instead deflected the ball towards goal. Luckily for him. Mehmet was on hand to make a good save. United created a chance of their own when Patrick Níkoyi, who had been quiet until this point, created space for himself in the box, but the ball was cleared before he could get a shot on goal. At the other end, Aaron Burns headed over the bar at the back post from an Andrew Mitchell cross. Again, the Linfield player really should have hit the target and United had another let-off. Kirk Millar became the latest player to have an effort saved by Mehmet a few minutes later, before substitute Jordan Stewart almost made an immediate impact as he shrugged a defender off the ball before curling an effort at goal, but Mehmet saved to thwart Linfield again. Late on, Unitedís youngsters finally got a grip of the game as the Linfield players tired, with the away defenders starting to have difficulty with the speed at which United were counter attacking. They were close to getting the winner five minutes from the end of normal time with a shot from Graham Taylor which beat Deane but hit the inside of the post. Substitute Logan Chalmers broke into the box soon afterwards, but was tackled before he was able to get his shot away. However, as in the previous round against Alloa, United grabbed a winner in stoppage time. Taylor hit a low angled shot which was parried out by Deane straight to Logan Chalmers, who volleyed into the empty net from 12 yards out. The goal prevented the extra time which had looked inevitable, and sent United through to the next round. This turned out to be another home game against Northern Irish opposition, this time against Crusaders.Match report written by Derek Keilloh