United secured a vital win in the race for second place in the Championship. Thomas Mikkelsen’s strike in the first half was enough to win the three points in a hard fought encounter against Dunfermline. With Morton losing tonight United moved a point ahead of them and to within a point of Falkirk in second.
Following on from Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Falkirk, Ray McKinnon selected the same starting eleven for United’s rearranged fixture at home to Dunfermline. The only change was on the bench with Ali Coote replacing Alex Nicholls who dropped out of the squad completely. There was one familiar face in the visitors team with Callum Morris lining up for the Pars.
By Gareth Scott
With three minutes on the clock United had a fine move down the right hand side. Murdoch laid the ball to Spittal who swung in a low cross to Mikkelsen who just failed to connect in the six yard box. Twenty minutes later United twice went close both times through the combination of Andreu and Murray. Firstly the Frenchman slipped a ball into Murray and he shot wide of target and then shortly after he headed into his path and United’s number nine looped his own header onto the roof of the net. The game then burst into life with half an hour on the clock. McCabe did well to win the ball from Robson and his fine cross picked out the unmarked Moffat who amazingly failed to control with only Bell to beat. United broke forward and Murray collected the ball on the right and he crossed to Mikkelsen who bundled the ball over the line to give United the lead. Just before the break both teams went close. Firstly after a scramble in the visitors box the ball ricocheted into the feet of Murray but his shot was saved by Murdoch. Dunfermline then almost levelled when Higginbotham cut the ball into the path of Clark but Edjenguele made a fine block on the goal line to keep his side one ahead.
In the opening seconds of the second half Spittal was played through for United but he hesitated and Murdoch cleared for the Pars. Higginbotham then threatened for the visitors but his cross evaded everyone and the danger was cleared. With 58 minutes gone United were so unlucky not to extend their lead after a moment of magic from Andreu. He collected the ball on the left and skipped past challenges and lobbed the ball over the keeper only to see the ball come back off the post. Dunfermline then followed that with an unchallenged header from Morris but fortunately his effort was straight at Cammy Bell. United then had another great chance when Floods aggression paid off and he set up Spittal who made himself space but his low side footed shot was saved by the Pars goalkeeper. The visitors pressed for an equaliser towards the end but the United defence stayed strong and then right at the end the result should have been put beyond doubt when Andreu brilliantly set up Van Der Velden who had his shot saved from close range.
Summing Up – not the best of games but there were chances on the night at both ends with United producing the best of them. In the end a single goal won the points and the United supporters will be delighted with the three points.
Man of the match – in what was a very tough encounter Tony Andreu looked back to his best and showed moments of class. His effort at goal in the second period was particularly unlucky not to find the net.
United : Bell, Durnan, Spittal (Van Der Velden 77), Murdoch, Murray, Edjenguele, Flood, Mikkelsen (Coote 85), Andreu, Robson, Allardice (Toshney 68)
Subs : Zwick, Dixon, Telfer, Kuate
Dunfermline: Murdoch, Talbot, Geggan (Williamson 64), Wedderburn, Moffat (Reilly 64), Ashcroft, McCabe, McMullan (Cardle 76), Higginbotham, Morris, Clark
Subs : Hutton, Martin, Paton, Spence
Referee: William Collum
Attendance : 5304