Controversial late penalty decision costs Jim Goodwin’s Tangerines a much-needed victory.
The game fizzed into life in the third minute when pony-tailed assassin Steven Fletcher fired Dundee United into the lead. Ecstatic roars reverberated around Tannadice as the former Sunderland stalwart wheeled away to celebrate in front of the ‘Kelbie Scrap Metal’ hoarding – Dundee’s premier scrap metal merchants, a google search reveals.
Fletcher’s early strike spurred United onto a dominant first half display. Aziz Behich, of World Cup acclaim, provided excellent service down the left-wing, and came near with a speculative long ranger. The Tangerines, languishing at the bottom of the SPFL and winless in ten league matches, showed no signs of the form that sees them two points adrift at the foot of the table.
St Mirren, coming off the back of a 5-1 trouncing at home to Celtic, looked toothless. United’s Australian shot-stopper Mark Birighitti barely had a save to make in the first half. I am sure this was a pleasant surprise to the last line of the league’s leakiest defence. All was looking unusually up for Dundee heading into the break.
The visitors improved significantly in the second half and Richard Taylor had the ball in the back of the net following a well-worked free-kick routine. However, the linesman’s flag denied St Mirren of their equaliser and promptly pooped the away end’s party. Inevitable chants of “WHEEEEEEY!!!” rang out around the ground.
Any suggestion that this could be a turning point in United’s disappointing season were quelled when St Mirren were awarded a controversial late penalty. After a lengthy VAR check failed to spot what the man behind me perceived as “clearly a f****** dive”, the penalty stood.
Creative midfielder and mainstay of my FIFA 18 Colchester United career mode, Mark O’Hara, tucked the penalty away with aplomb and ‘limbs’ in the St Mirren end ensued. Their decision to make the four hour round trip from Paisley vindicated.
United picked themselves up again in the closing stages of the game with the attacking impetus of substitute Ilmari Niskanen making a clear difference. The, now flagging Tangerines, created a spate of late chances but lacked the incisive finish required to bag the winner.
There is no question that this will be viewed by many on the terraces as two points dropped for Dundee United. Manager Jim Goodwin bemoaned the penalty decision in his post-match interview.
“I can’t accept that with VAR and the technology to support us. There’s not enough contact for me to warrant a penalty.” Goodwin was also critical of his side’s profligate second half performance: “I don’t know how we didn’t score at the end. We could’ve taken all three points.” On balance, the United gaffer agreed that a draw was a fair result.
Following the one-week hiatus for the international break, Dundee United face a tough trip to Ibrox. The Tangerines have a mountain to climb to avoid the drop and very little time to climb it. To quote former St Mirren manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, it’s ‘squeaky bum time’ at Tannadice.
Image: Ben Bagley