United’s Championship hopes were dealt a blow with a heavy defeat at the Falkirk Stadium.
By Gareth Scott
Baird had the hosts ahead at the break and then a quick fire double from a Muirhead penalty plus a Craigen shot gave Peter Houston’s men a comfortable win.
United were dealt a blow prior to kick off when Cammy Bell failed a late fitness test with Luis Zwick coming in to replace him. Willo Flood returned to the line up with Alex Nicholls making his first start for the Club. William Edjenguele missed out through suspension and Simon Murray dropped to the bench.
United got off to the worst possible start when after only four minutes the hosts took the lead. After hesitation at the back Miller crossed from the right and John Baird stole in and headed home off the underside of the bar. Four minutes later the Bairns almost made it two. Craigen’s corner was met by Peter Grant and his powerful header was brilliantly tipped over by Zwick. Shortly after United had their first chance when Dixon crossed to Mikkelsen but his header was well off target. Hippolyte then created a chance for Baird but his long range shot was well held by Zwick. Falkirk again went close when a Craigen free kick was just too high for Miller and then former United man Miller laid the ball into the path of Baird who shot just wide. With 36 minutes on the clock United went very close to drawing level. Van der Struijk won a corner on the right and from Fraser’s corner Mikkelsen headed against the crossbar. United were beginning to look more threatening and a good move down the left saw a Spittal cross fall to Flood who was unlucky to see his shot deflect wide of target.
United started brightly and Nicholls had a great run on the left and fed Andreu who shot well over the top. Things took a real turn for the worse for United after 52 minutes. With only ten men on the park with Spittal off injured Falkirk took advantage in the midfield. Austin broke through on goal and whilst rounding Zwick was taken down for a penalty kick. Referee Euan Anderson opted to give United’s keeper a yellow card. Muirhead stepped up and slotted home the penalty to double the hosts advantage. Murray then came on for Spittal and almost made an immediate impact when his shot was turned round the post by Rogers. On the hour mark the game was effectively put beyond United. The ball was played in from the left and after a mix up in the defence Craigen was on hand to slam the ball home. It could have been worse still for United when Grant headed home a free kick but fortunately for the visitors he was in an offside position. With the game virtually over the match petered out with a flurry of substitutions from both sides and very little goalmouth action. With three minutes left Craigen’s free kick was met by Grant but his header was well saved by Zwick. In the dying seconds a cross from Murray found Mikkelsen but he headed over from close range.
Summing Up – a really poor day for United with many players way off their best. They did have a good chance at 1-0 down which may have changed the game but in truth they were well beaten on the day.
Man of the match – despite it being a really bad day for United, Alex Nicholls did look lively at times for the visitors.
United: Zwick, Dixon, Durnan, Toshney (Dillon61), Spittal (Murray 53), Fraser (Murdoch 72), Nicholls, Flood, Mikkelsen, Andreu, Van Der Struijk
Subs: Long, Telfer, Van Der Velden, Robson
Falkirk: Rogers, Leahy, Muirhead, Taiwo (Kidd 82), Baird (Austin 40), Sibbald, Hippolyte, Grant, Miller (Aird 83), Craigen, Watson
Subs : Thomson, Gasparotto, McHugh, Gallacher
Referee : Euan Anderson
Attendance : 5027