United secured a vital three points in Paisley, with an impressive 2-0 victory against St Mirren in a pulsating game. Two beautifully taken goals from Fraser and Andreu, one in each half, made the difference as United cemented their challenge in the Championship race.
By Stuart Norris
Following the international break, United resumed their Championship challenge against St Mirren at Greenhill Road in what was new Buddies’ manager Jack Ross’s first game in charge. United welcomed back Bell, Obadeyi and Flood from recent injuries and were cheered on by a healthy and vocal away support.
United started on the front foot forcing a corner in the first two minutes, leading to a drive by Andreu which flew wide.
St Mirren were also looking lively and forced a corner from Edjenguele on 10 minutes which United cleared comfortably.
Sutton in a personal battle with Durnan was starting to link up with Hardie leading to the St Mirren forward shooting narrowly wide.
Next, Lewis Morgan zipped a powerful drive which Bell smothered at the second attempt. United’s passing remained the more crisp, but were struggling to find a way through a tight St Mirren defence with the final ball often failing to reach its target.
With a rare sight of goal Tony Andreu had a speculative shot on 33 mins from 20 yards, but unfortunately sliced his shot over.
As United continued to move the ball well, they deservedly took the lead in 37 minutes. Tony Andreu fed Scott Fraser with a sublime pass on the edge of the box and the midfielder, through on goal, slotted calmly past Langfield to put United in front.
St Mirren responded with their second corner which was well cleared by van der Velden.
United could, perhaps should have been two up on 43 mins. As St Mirren pressed for an equaliser, United broke from defence. Van der Velden raced clear down the left wing before cutting the ball back to Andreu who cut inside only to have his shot blocked before Obadeyi shot over.
Then on 44 mins, a cross from Dixon was met by Andreu whose back-heel went narrowly wide.
United were overall happy to go in at the break 1:0 up in a keenly contested first half.
The second half kicked off to the sound of the Jamie Langfield fan club singing the praises of the St Mirren keeper!
Play was wide open in the opening stages, with both teams leaving themselves open at the back. It was United, however, who were making the most of the space, creating a number of opportunities in the opening 10 minutes. The best of these came on 49 mins. With the St Mirren defence caught up-field, Fraser broke through the centre and fed Andreu whose shot from a narrow angle beat Langfield but was cleared off the line.
St Mirren then had a great chance to equalise when Van der Struijk was dispossessed but Bell saved comfortably from the resultant weak Morgan shot.
On 72 min a spectacular Shankland volley was superbly saved by Bell. Of such things, games are decided. One minute later United were two up! A mix up in the St Mirren defence was pounced on by substitute Murray. His shot was saved but Tony Andreu sublimely chipped over the crowd of bodies to score his seventh goal in seven games to send the United support into raptures.
Such was the ebb and flow of this game, St Mirren almost had a lifeline straight from kick-off when a powerful header beat Bell but was cleared off the line by Scott Fraser to keep the two goal advantage.
As St Mirren pressed, Walsh was next to try his luck on 78 minutes, for fortunately for United screwed his shot wide. Morgan then tested Bell from 30 yards but was easily held as the game continued to swing from end to end.
Walsh had yet another attempt, this time beating Bell but this time, Van der Struijk cleared off the line as St Mirren battled to get back into the game. Sutton and Durnan were booked as they jostled before a long St Mirren throw-in. Durnan won the resultant battle to clear the danger.
However, with two minutes of normal time remaining, United were down to 10 men. Durnan was deemed to have had a second bookable offence in the space of 5 minutes as he challenged for a loose ball in the centre circle. Ten man United had all men to the pumps in the closing stages as St Mirren, to their credit, fought to the end.
Into injury time, a lung bursting run from Scott Fraser relieved the pressure and almost led to a third goal. Claims for a penalty were waved away as he tumbled in the box, but United saw out the remaining seconds to record a well-deserved 2:0 victory in Paisley.
Man of the Match
Scott Fraser was immense launching countless attacks while throwing himself into tackles and clearing off the line when required. His composure, shown throughout, was demonstrated perfectly in the calm way he stroked the ball into the St Mirren net for United’s opening goal.
Langfield, Naismith, Irvine, MacKenzie, Quinn, Sutton, Mallan (Shankland), Hutton, Baird, Morgan, Hardie (Walsh)
Subs Gallagher, Clarkson, , McLear, Stewart, Gallacher
Bell, Dixon, Durnan, Fraser, Obadeyi (Spittal), Telfer, Edjenguele, Flood, Andreu(Donaldson ), Van der Struijk, Van der Velden (Murray)
Subs Dillon, Smith, Zwick, Coote