Gavin McCafferty at Tannadice
Former ‘Well defender Gavin Gunning returned to haunt his old club with two goals for United in their 3-1 win at Tannadice.
Ryan Dow opened the scoring at Tannadice, before Gunning – sidelined in recent weeks by a knee injury – netted either side of the interval.
Although John Sutton pulled a goal back from the penalty spot, United held on for the three points.
Jackie McNamara’s side were the better team on the night and deserved to record a third successive win against Stuart McCall’s men – but the visitors can certainly feel aggrieved at a number of calls that didn’t go their way.
The hosts were first to threaten when they carved out a genuine scoring opportunity inside five minutes.
Keith Watson’s cross from deep was met by midfielder John Rankin, who let fly but saw his effort go narrowly past Well goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen’s far post.
United made the breakthrough in the 22nd minute after Shaun Hutchinson’s attempted back pass from midway inside his own half fell short. Dow wasted no time in picking up possession and homing in on goal, before steadying himself sufficiently to sweep a shot past Nielsen and into the far corner from 12 yards.
The ‘Well players surrounded Bobby Madden, convinced of a push on Carswell in the build-up, but there was nothing doing from the official.
It was not until the end of the first half that the visitors were evident in an attacking sense, with Radoslaw Cierzniak being forced into his first save in 35 minutes.
Sutton caused some problems with his physical presence inside the United penalty area as he helped the ball onto Iain Vigurs. The former Ross County midfielder’s point-blank shot with his left-foot looked net bound until Cierzniak instinctively palmed it away.
The home side increased their lead in in the 42nd minute and again ‘Well were unhappy with the referee. Dow’s corner was head-flicked on by Nadir Çiftçi, who looked to have manhandled Stevie Hammell, for Gunning was lurking at the far post to stab the ball over the line. Again, nothing doing from Madden.
United were in the ascendency and deserved their lead but ‘Well would again have cause for grievance when Gunning barged Iain Vigurs inside the box. It looked a pretty clear spot kick, but the claims were waved away.
Things were to get worse for the visitors at the start of the second half when they found themselves trailing further.
Vigurs brought down Çiftçi 25 yards from goal and Gunning had only one thing on his mind as he tried his luck from 25 yards, and was fortunate to see his effort take a big deflection off James McFadden before finding the far corner of Nielsen’s net.
There appeared no way back for the Lanarkshire club but things changed somewhat when they were awarded a 56th minute penalty.
Çiftçi was penalised for handball from James McFadden’s free-kick and Sutton sent Cierzniak the wrong way from the spot to reduce the deficit to 3-1.
That goal served to give the visitors some fresh hope, although United had the chance to reinforce their lead on the hour mark but Armstrong could not keep his shot down from 12 yards.
The home defence came under some pressure towards the end, although Gary Mackay-Steven could have sealed things with 10 minutes remaining, only for Nielsen to foil his low shot from ten yards.
There was another claim for a penalty late in the game when Gunning appeared to handle the ball away from substitute Henri Anier, but it wasn’t spotted and the game soon ended, with the home side running out deserved winners despite Motherwell’s improved showing in the second forty-five.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Tannadice
FT: Dundee Utd 3 – 1 Motherwell #DUFCvMFC
3 minutes added on #DUFCvMFC
88mins: Dundee Utd sub, Armstrong off for Connolly #DUFCvMFC
86mins: Great little interchange of passes there by McFadden and Lasley then Anier to get a ball in for Francis-Angol. Utd clear, though
85mins: McFadden’s long throw into the box causes some uncertainties but it just won’t fall to a ‘Well player. Chance gone #DUFCvMFC
82mins: Good stop from Nielsen to deny Armstong at his near post. #DUFCvMFC
78mins: Reid wins ‘Well a corner…. McFadden’s delivery is gathered again by Cierzniak #DUFCvMFC
77mins: Dundee Utd sub, Dow off for El Alagui #DUFCvMFC
76mins: Motherwell sub, Anier on for Vigurs #DUFCvMFC
72mins: Ciftci can only find the sidenetting after bursting into the box #DUFCvMFC
70mins: Corner to ‘Well……Vigurs’ delivery is gathered by Cierzniak #DUFCvMFC
65mins: Motherwell sub, Ainsworth off for Reid #DUFCvMFC
Looked like handball? Either way, Sutton has the chance to pull one back…. GOAL! #DUFCvMFC
54mins: Another free-kick in a good area… McFadden…PENALTY! #DUFCvMFC
50mins: Free-kick to ‘Well in a great position 23 yards out. Sutton plays it square to Ainsworth who shoots straight at Cierzniak #DUFCvMFC
49mins: Corner to Utd…..falls to Rankin who blazes over just inside the box #DUFCvMFC
46mins: GOAL- Gunning makes it 3-0 with a low free-kick #DUFCvMFC
HT: Dundee Utd 2 – 0 Motherwell
1 minute added on #DUFCvMFC
41mins: GOAL – Gunning makes it 2-0 with a close range tap-in from a corner #DUFCvMFC
35mins: Should have been the equaliser but for Cierzniak with a great stop to deny Vigurs from close range after Sutton’s knockdown #DUFCvMFC
33mins: Bit of a half-chance for Vigurs. Spun in the box but on his weaker foot, can only drag it well wide #DUFCvMFC
31mins: Corner to ‘Well……..Madden judges McManus pushed his man at the back post and blows the whistle #DUFCvMFC
30mins: United are well on top here. Not able to get the ball and keep some possession #DUFCvMFC
20mins: GOAL! – Dow makes it 1-0 after Hutchinson’s backpass is short leaving him plenty of time to slot past Nielsen #DUFCvMFC
20mins: Corner to Motherwell……..Cierzniak gathers the delivery with ease #DUFCvMFC
18mins: Fantastic last-ditch tackle from Francis-Angol to deny what looked like was going to be a certain goal! #DUFCvMFC
10mins: Cifcti gets past Hammell who brings him down to concede a FK. Delivery is headed clear to Rankin who volleys well over #DUFCvMFC
8mins: Close again for Utd. This time it’s Robertson who shoots from 20 yards out, just past the post. #DUFCvMFC
5mins: CLOSE! Rankin pulls his shot from just inside the box inches past Nielsen’s left post #DUFCvMFC
3mins: Sutton was always stretching to reach Ainsworth’s delivery and can only poke it wide #DUFCvMFC
..Vigurs’ effort is headed over for the first corner of the game #DUFCvMFC
2mins: Free-kick won by McFadden, about 25 yards out……
Lasley and Carswell get the game underway #DUFCvMFC #CYW
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“We were very disappointed with the way we lost the first two goals. They were poor and sloppy ones to lose.
“But we showed lots of guts ands character to come back into things. I know the character is there to come back from this setback.”
Dundee Utd manager Jackie McNamara:
“The first half was about as good as it gets. We were excellent throughout.
“We moved the ball well and had good energy which brought enough chances to put the game to bed.
“It’s another hard match against Hibernian next week but let’s hope it’s another good Friday night result for us.
“If we can play like that then we’ll win more games than we lose or draw.
“I thought in the second half it was horrible, a bit stop-start with lots of free-kicks. The penalty gave them a bit of a lift in the second half but we were worthy winners.”