The Dundee United Football Club Historical Archive. Preserving United History Since 2006.
Craig Levein made three changes to his starting lineup from the side which had played out a goalless draw away to St Mirren in the Fifth Round of the Scottish Cup only days previously. Mark de Vries was handed his full debut with Christian Kalvenes and David Robertson also coming into the starting 11. Sean Dillon and Prince Buaben had to settle for places on the substitutes bench whilst Danny Grainger dropped out of the squad altogether.Cheered on by the large and very noisy contingent of travelling Arabs who were housed in the stand at the 'School End' of the ground, United started the game brightly. Returning from injury, Christian Kalvenes created one of the first chances of the match: his cross from the left found Mark de Vries and his knock-down fell into the path of the on-rushing Robertson, but Barry Nicholson managed to clear. United had lost their captain Barry Robson to Celtic during the January transfer window, but there was no lack of creativity with de Vries linking up well with Noel Hunt, flicking on for the Irish striker to fire a shot narrowly wide after 12 minutes in what was the game’s first worthy attempt on goal. Then against the run of play, Aberdeen took the lead on 18 minutes. A corner from the right by Nicholson was headed goal-wards by Zander Diamond, United failed to clear the danger and Andrew Considine slammed home from close range. The Terrors hit back almost immediately when on 22 minutes Kalvenes whipped in a free-kick from the right and Darren Dods headed in from six yards. Although lacking in numbers, there was no lacking in atmosphere, with the 12,000-plus fans spurring the players on as the game opened up. Scott Severin came close for Aberdeen just after the half-hour with a 30-yard free kick that flew just wide. After 38 minutes United won their first corner and almost went in front when Conway’s cross was met by Dods, whose glancing header went just wide with Lee Wilkie stretching but unable to make the vital touch. At half time, United went into the break at 1-1 and despite being the dominant team, the supporters sensed there was more to come. Even the shoot-out between the United and Aberdeen youngsters had the fans on their feet. It ended in a draw, but that was no omen.The second half began with United shooting towards their fans in the Roseburn Stand. Former Dundee goalkeeper Jamie Langfield was clearly unsettled by the hostile reception and when he scuffed a simple pass-back, United seized the opportunity. The resulting corner from Conway was met full-on by Christian Kalvenes and his bullet header put the Tangerines back in front on the hour mark – sending the supporters behind the goal into raptures. The United fans had only just returned to their seats when they were sent into more wild celebrations: Craig Conway latched onto a long ball and the advancing Langfield slipped, leaving the goal completely unprotected. The United winger rounded the ‘keeper and kept his composure to the put the ball into the back of the net from tight angle. Two minutes later, the United fans had further reason to cheer when a moment of madness from Lee Miller led to his second bookable offence. The former United striker, who was booked for a foul in the first half, pushed the self-destruct button by lunging in late on Kalvenes and referee Iain Brines was left with no option but give him his marching orders. United went on to seal their place in the Hampden showdown with Rangers when a short back-pass from Severin was charged down by Morgaro Gomis, who rolled the ball over the line to put his side 4-1 in front and leave the Arabs screaming for more, but in the end they had to settle for four. At full time the players were given a rousing reception from the supporters who had been magnificent all game. Speaking after the game, manager Craig Levein hailed his heroes who had earned their place in the final:"They were brilliant and I am chuffed to bits by the way they played. Everything went to plan tonight and it’s not often you can say that as a manager. To dominate a very good Aberdeen side like we did was beyond my wildest dreams. I am really happy for the fans and the players but the person I am most pleased for is the chairman. I was anxious in the days leading up to the game because I was so desperate to get us to a final for him. He has shown more courage than anyone just to be here and I am delighted for him.”Eddie Thompson struggled to hold back the tears as he absorbed the magnitude of United’s victory over Aberdeen at Tynecastle. The Chairman, who was battling cancer, was clearly overwhelmed by the moment and was full of praise for his players’ efforts, but most notably for his manager and what he had achieved in just 14 months in charge. Mr Thompson said: “To win like we did is a fantastic achievement. Nobody let us down and everybody at the club has contributed towards this success. I would like, though, to say that when my manager Craig Levein first came to the club I asked him not to get us relegated. He did that and now we are in a cup final – it’s fantastic. I have not had much pleasure out of football but if I am to get some at this stage then I am delighted. I have supported United for over 40 years and remember when we won the league at Dens Park and the cup victories. For me personally, however, to be so heavily involved in this achievement makes it extra special."