By Stewart Buick
In snowy conditions at East End park, it was the home side who started off the better, having the first real chance of the game in the ninth minute. Mark Durnan lost possession in the middle of the park to Nicky Clark who advanced towards the United penalty area and unselfishly squared the ball across the box to Michael Moffat whose shot was brilliantly blocked and cleared from Edjenguele two yards out.
However, it was McKinnon’s men who took the lead through Tony Andreu with his twelfth goal of the season. The game didn’t really spark into life until the twentieth minute when a beautifully curled shot from twenty yards out by Andreu after his initial shot was blocked. United then continued to push for their second goal of the game but couldn’t quite find it although Blair Spittal did come very close with a shot from the edge of the box that clipped the outside of the post.
After that period of dominance for the visitors, it was the home side who got back into the game and equalised on the twenty ninth minute. Dunfermline got their equaliser against the run of play after the referee awarded them a free kick. From the free kick, United didn’t do enough to stop the cross from Higginbotham who seemed to have all the time in the world out on the left-hand side and his cross was met well by John Herron who in turn got to it before Cammy Bell and headed past the outcoming United keeper. United then had the better chances towards the end of the first half with Thomas Mikkelsen’s shot saved by Murdoch.
Half time: Dunfermline 1 Dundee United 1
United had to make a change at half-time as Cammy Bell went off injured with a suspected jaw injury after a collision during the home sides equaliser and was replaced by Luis Zwick. Dunfermline started the second half the brighter of the two sides and had a chance to take the lead in the fifty third minute when Higginbotham pulled a free-kick back to Nate Wedderburn but his goal-bound shot was blocked.
United then had a big shout for a penalty waved away by the referee when Durnan seemed to have his shirt pulled in the box and the defender and the United fans weren’t too happy with that decision. The Tangerines had an even better opportunity to take the lead when Scott Fraser danced his way into the box and pulled the ball back from Mikkelsen but his right footed shot was well blocked.
It wasn’t until the seventy fifth minute that United managed to create another clear goal scoring opportunity and by this point both teams were going for the win with the game going from end to end. Andreu had a clear sight of goal after lovely inter-play from Murray and Spittal but was denied by a good save from Murdoch and the re-bound was blazed over by Andreu.
Once again Murdoch was at the rescue for the home side after a brilliant save from a Spittal free kick from twenty-two yards out, which was destined for the top corner. Another chance then went begging for the visitors as Murray cut in from the left hand side but his shot went high and wide.
Ten minutes later, Murdoch had to pull off a stunning acrobatic save high to his right to keep out a Spittal 22-yard free-kick and then sub Simon Murray cracked a shot just inches past the post as United piled on the pressure but couldn’t find the back of the net.
It was then the home side who had the last chance of the game after they got in behind the United back line and Zwick did well to parry away a shot from the substitute Gavin Reilly.
Despite dominating for much of the second half and having the better chances but couldn’t quite find the finish on the day. The Tangerines managed to vastly improve on their recent performances and looked more like the United we have seen earlier this season. However, they will rue the many chances they had to win the game.
After the game, Ray McKinnon stated he was happy with United’s performance and attitude after a recent dip in form. He was pleased with his players’ will to win the game and all that was missing from his side was more composure during the second half in front of goal.
Man of the Match – Tony Andreu. Not only because of his goal to give United the lead. Throughout the game his quality showed with his ability to create chances thanks to his vision and his intelligence.
Dunfermline: Murdoch (gk), Talbot, Ashcroft, Morris, Herron, Geggan (c), Wedderburn, Clark, Moffat (Reilly75), McMullan (Cardle 71), Higginbotham (Hopkirk 80)
Un-used Subs, Hutton(gk), Martin, Fordyce, McCabe
Dundee United: Bell (C), (Zwick 45), van der Struijk, Edjenguele, Dixon, Flood, Toshney, Spittal, Andreu, Fraser, Mikklesen (Murray 66)
Un-used Subs, Dillon, Robson, Telfer, Obadeyi, van der Velden
Attendance – 4670