By Gareth Scott
After the confidence boosting three points at East End Park last Saturday, Ray McKinnon made only one change for the trip to Falkirk. Paul Dixon missed out through suspension and unsurprisingly Jamie Robson was recalled to the starting eleven. Former United men Kerr and McCracken started for the Bairns with Rankin and Miller amongst the substitutes.
United started the game very brightly and went close with only two minutes gone when a flick from Murray clipped the top of the Falkirk crossbar. Five minutes later United appeared to get a stroke of luck when McHugh went down after a challenge by Bell but the referee waved play on. Shortly after Flood was unlucky to give away a free kick on the edge of his own box but fortunately for the visitors the wall did its job and blocked a weak effort from Sibbald. With a quarter of an hour on the clock United had a great chance when Obadeyi broke down the right and found van der Velden. His shot was parried by Rogers and Murray side footed over with the goal gaping. Three minutes later the home side edged in front. Taiwo crossed from the right and Baird had lost his marker in the box and headed past the helpless Bell. With 30 minutes gone United almost fell further behind when McHugh headed against the post but United then broke forward and Andreu was denied with only the keeper to beat. United were looking extremely dangerous going forward and a minute later they were deservedly back on level terms. Van der Velden did brilliantly on the right and his low drive into the six yard box was met by Obadeyi who scored from close range. With half time looming United created another great chance when Van der Velden and Murray combined to set up Flood but with time in the box the United midfielder got the ball tangled in his feet and the home defence cleared the danger. There was still time for Telfer to be cautioned for a challenge on Baird and then the Falkirk striker had a turn and shot in the box that flew over the United crossbar.
The visitors were dealt a blow at the start of the second period when full back Lewis Toshney failed to appear after the break and he was replaced by club captain Sean Dillon. United were first to threaten in the second period when Andreu made himself space at the edge of the box but his shot just cleared the Falkirk crossbar. The plastic pitch appeared to be taking its toll on United and things got worse when after 51 minutes Flood hobbled off with Scott Fraser taking the midfielder’s place. Ten minutes later it was Andreu’s turn to depart with Cammy Smith coming on for United. Smith was immediately involved when he slipped a pass through to Van der Velden but the Dutchman had drifted into an offside position. A minute later van der Velden was fouled by Sibbald which resulted in a booking for the Falkirk man. With just over 15 minutes left Peter Houston made a double change. Rankin and Craigen came on in place of Taiwo and Sibbald with Rankin receiving an ovation from both sets of supporters. Another former United man McCracken then had a volley that went wide of target directly from a corner kick. Both teams were keeping things very tight with very little happening in an attacking sense. In fact it took until the 75th minute for a decent attempt at goal and that was a shot from Charlie Telfer that was pulled wide of target following a cut back from Obadeyi. Ten minutes from time Falkirk made their final change with another ex United man Lee Miller coming on for Bob McHugh. With the game looking destined for a draw United were hit by two,late sucker punches. With 86 minutes gone Craigen cut the ball into the path of Hippolyte and his low shot was fortuitously deflected past Bell. Three minutes later the hosts secured the points. Hippolyte collected the ball on the left and he crossed into the United box and Miller powered his header into the United net.
Summing Up – United will feel hard done by losing right at the end of the game. In the first half they looked very threatening but with a draw probably looking a fair outcome the home side took advantage to hand United their second defeat of the season.
Man of the match – on what was a disappointing day for United, young Jamie Robson put in a solid display at left back.
Falkirk: Rogers, Kidd, Leahy, McCracken, Taiwo (73), Kerr, Baird, Sibbald (Rankin 73), Hippolyte, Gasparotto, McHugh (Miller 77)
Subs : McMinn, Shepherd, Gallacher, Watson
United: Bell, Toshney (Dillon 46), Murray, Obadeyi, Telfer, Edjenguele, Flood (Fraser 52),Andreu (Smith 61), Van der Stuijk, Van der Velden, Robson
Subs : Zwick, Durnan, Donaldson, Spittal
Attendance: 5488 (1309 Arabs)
Referee: Crawford Allan