Dundee United were left to rue a slow start to this vital match, going down 3 – 2 to a determined St Mirren side in Paisley. Having dominated the entire second half, they were unable to find the equaliser their second half performance deserved.
By Stuart Norris
A game vital to United’s promotion bid could not have got off to a worse start when St Mirren took the lead within two minutes from their first attack. United failed to clear their lines from a St Mirren free-kick and Davis knocked in from close range after a flick on by Sutton.
St Mirren looked the hungrier through most of the opening stages, as United failed to get a grip on the game.
United’s first meaningful move came in 25 minutes when Telfer played Murray in, but the striker shot tamely over the bar.
On 28 minutes Scott Fraser went down with a foot injury and was replaced by Mikkelson.
United won their first corner in 31 minutes and maintained the pressure following the St Mirren clearance. Then, on 33 minutes, a moment of real quality from United. Simon Murray’s cut back from the by-line was sweetly struck by Tony Andreu’s left foot into the corner of the net and United were level.
However, St Mirren were back in front three minutes later. Again United failed to clear their lines leading to a Willo Flood foul. Mallan whipped the resultant 25 yard angled free-kick into Bell’s near post to put St Mirren into a 2:1 lead.
As the half came to close another foul by Flood on Mallen led to a yellow card for the midfielder. St Mirren continued to press into injury time and Sutton shaved the post from a close range header.
At half time St Mirren deservedly went in 2 – 1 in front.
United started the second half on the front foot and almost equalised within two minutes. Nicholls had Saints keeper O’Brian scrambling from a free-kick from the left, then Andreu’s header came off the bar as a rejuvenated Dundee United took the game to St Mirren.
United continued to press and a sweeping move from back to front finished with a powerful drive from Telfer flying just over the bar.
With United pushing forward, they were leaving gaps at the back and were caught on the break on 58 minutes. Morgan pounced on the loose ball following a great save by Bell to put St Mirren into a 3 – 1 lead.
On 65 mins Loy was booked for a late tackle on Andreu. United were unable to capitalise on the resultant free-kick. To United’s credit, they continued to show vigour in attack and on 69 minutes, deservedly scored their second. Pressing high up the pitch paid off when first Mikkelson, then Flood’s determination led to Andreu collecting on the edge of the box. He controlled and fired a tremendous drive into the bottom corner.
Tony Andreu was now running the show and a sublime piece of skill led to him being taken down. The resultant free-kick led to a scramble in the box with Mikkelson’s shot deflected over the bar.
As United pushed forward Morgan was booked for a two footed tackle on Sean Dillon. Having played all three subs, Dillon was forced to play the remainder of the game carrying an injury.
United’s domination continued until the end, with St Mirren desperately hanging on, but hang on they did to see the game out with a 3:2 victory.
Man of the Match:- Tony Andreu. Simply head and shoulders above everyone else on the park.
St Mirren: O’Brian, Irvine, MacKenzie, Sutton, Eckersley, Morgan, Davis (Baird) Mallan, Loy (Magennis), Smith, (Storie) McGinn
Subs: Langfield, Demetriou, Todd, Fjelde
Dundee United: Bell, Dillon, Durnan, Murray(Van Der Velden), Fraser (Mikkelson), Nicholls (Coote), Telfer, Edjenguelle, Flood, Andreu, Robson
Subs: Dixon, Donaldson, Murdoch, Zwick
Referee: Greg Aitken