Ray Morrison at Tannadice
A screamer from substitute Mario Bilate eight minutes from time denied Motherwell a deserved point from tonight’s Tannadice clash.
After a fairly even first-half, United certainly enjoyed the vast majority of possession in the second, but rarely troubled Dan Twardzik in the visitors goal.
Indeed, the former Bayern Munich youngster’s only real moment of note in the game, other than a few comfortable long-range efforts, was to pick the ball out his net when Dutchman Bilate rifled home a sizzling twenty-five yard stunner.
It was harsh on the Steelmen, who had contained United for almost the full game and even hit the crossbar, had a decent penalty claim turned down and had the ball in the net, ruled out for a marginal offside call.
Stuart McCall made one change to his side that beat St Mirren in midweek – Jack Leitch came in to replace Lionel Ainsworth with the former Scotland midfielder opting for a 4-3-3, with Lee Erwin and Josh Law supporting John Sutton in attach.
And it was the Fir Parkers who made the better start, forcing a number of early corners, eventually leading to a Josh Law curler coming crashing back off the crossbar.
United, normally so potent on the counter, were struggling as ‘Well allowed them to have the ball and hunted in packs to close down attack after attack. The best they could muster was a Gary MacKay-Steven effort that Twardzik watched harmlessly wide.
Fraser Kerr just failed to connect with a Leitch corner and Nadir Ciftci had a bouncing shot from distance that again was comfortable for Motherwell’s young ‘keeper.
Stuart McCall was forced into a change at the break with Zaine Francis-Angol feeling his hamstring. Young David Ferguson replaced him, the 18-year old making his full debut in a position he’s not normally familiar.
However, there was a moment of controversy in the opening few minutes of the second half when Erwin appeared to be bundled down on the edge of the area by Paul Paton. It’s hard to tell if it was inside or outside the box; incredibly referee Kevin Clancy gave nothing.
United started to get a grip on the game in terms of possession, but were restricted to very little actual chances. A few teasing balls across the face and a few timely blocks by the Steelmen defence kept it at 0-0.
In the 67th minute, though, Motherwell had the ball in the net after Lee Erwin was put clean through on goal by Jack Leitch to slot past Cierzniak. A late, late flag by the assistant ruled the goal offside; television pictures were inclusive from the angle, but it was incredibly tight and could have gone either way.
Paton should have put the hosts ahead in the 80th minute but fired over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
However, just as the game looked to be heading for a stalemate an excellent point for the Steelmen, Bilate popped up with an unstoppable drive to ensure the three points stayed in Tayside. Incredibly though, with virtually the seconds remaining, Craig Reid came within an inch of converting a corner only for it deflect inches wide of the post.
Overall, McCall can be very satisfied with his side, even in defeat. The young Academy graduates showed up well with Lee Erwin again impressing.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Tannadice
A battling performance that deserved more but a Bilate wonderstrike is enough to give Utd the 3 points.
FT: Dundee Utd 1 – 0 Motherwell #DUFCvMFC
92mins: Reid’s shot is deflected just wide of the post!
89mins: Utd running down the clock in the corner. 3 minutes added on.
87mins: Free-kick to ‘Well wide on the right, headed out for a corner.
And Dundee Utd changes, Mackay-Steven off for Erskine and Ciftci off for Telfer
85mins: Motherwell subs, McHugh and Ainsworth on for Sutton and Leitch
82mins: GOAL! Bilate sends a rocket into the top corner from 25 yards. 1 – 0
79mins: Ball falls to Dow from Mackay-Steven’s low cross. Should really hit the target from 12 yards but blasts over!
73mins: Great defending from McManus to swipe Mackay-Steven’s cross to safety! Goal was gaping there.
68mins: Succession of Utd corners. Bilate heads over from 10 yards. A bit of a let off.
65mins: Erwin is slid through and has the ball in the net but the linesman has his flag up! Close, but probably correct decision
65mins: Dunde Utd sub, Bilate on for Watson
59mins: Corner to Utd, which is dealt with by Erwin at the front post.
57mins: Great defending from Ferguson who manages to pick the pocket of Ciftci as he looked to shoot
United’s wall holds strong and deflects Law’s effort away to safety
55mins: Erwin spins Morris and wins a free-kick, 25 yards out in a good position
53mins: Utd manage to scramble Law’s low cross away. Was a decent ball in but no takers!
50mins: Armstrong booked. From resulting free-kick, Cierzniak manages to punch clear
48mins: Ferguson is booked for what you could call a tactical foul on Mackay-Steven as he looked to counter
46mins:Erwin dribbles forward and looks to have been fouled in the box!Ref disagrees and waves play on!Will be interesting to see that again
Second half is underway.
Half time change for ‘Well. Francis-Angol makes way for Ferguson who makes his first appearance in a ‘Well shirt.
No goals here at Tannadice but a decent opening 45. Law with the best chance of the game, his effort crashing off the bar after 3 minutes
HT: Dundee Utd 0 – 0 Motherwell #DUFCvMFC
35mins: Mackay-Steven cuts it back to Rankin on the edge of the box. This time he tests Twardzik but the stopper is equal to the shot.
33mins: Rankin scuffs a shot well wide from 25 yards. Lasley and Dow exchange words, after Dow went down in the box.
29mins: Booking for Leitch who crings down Mackay-Steven on the half way line.
27mins: Fraser Kerr’s front post flick-on header isn’t far over!
27mins: Corner to ‘Well after Fojut just got in ahead of Erwin to head to safety.
24mins: An ambitious effort from Ciftci some 35 yards out ends safely in the hands of Twardzik who was never trroubled
21mins: Townsend darts forward and wins a free-kick in a good position…..Wall holds strong to divert the free-kick for a corner.
18mins: Another, ‘Well corner, and it’s another short one. This time Law delivers well but Cierzniak comes out to claim it.
..’Well play it short but quickly lose possession. Utd break, but the final ball eludes Mackay-Steven and runs into Twardzik’s arms
17mins: Leitch does well to win a corner down the left wing…
12mins: Mackay-Steven cuts in from the right wing but his left footed shot goes harmlessly wide of Twardzik’s left post.
10mins: Bit of confusion in the ‘Well defence leads to a corner. Reid is there to head well clear.
3mins: ‘Well win another corner, this time it is short to Law who cuts in and rifles a shot off the bar! So close to the opener!
2mins: A bit of trickery down the left from Law wins ‘Well a corner. Townsend heads clear at the front post.
1min: Ciftci and Dow get the game underway #COYW
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“I thought we merited a point. But you hold your hands up when someone hits a goal like that.
“We’ve given goals away in the past which have been sloppy but there’s nothing you can do when there’s a goal like that.
“I think we conceded 60 goals last season – even more than Hibs – but tonight they only really had a couple of long-range shots in the first half.
“In the second half, they came down the hill but I can’t really remember our keeper Dan (Twardzik) having a save to make. So against a good side I thought we merited a point.
Dundee Utd assistant manager Jackie McNamara:
“It was a lovely goal, worthy of winning any match.
“I thought we deserved it to be honest. I thought we put them under pressure in the second-half. We kept plugging away and we got there in the end.
“We’ve had two hard games already this season and Motherwell were difficult to break down here.
“In the first half, we found it hard to get in behind them to create any clear-cut chances.
“But I was confident we could get there in the end and so it proved.