After a very busy summer transfer window so far, it was a much changed United line up that started the Betfred Group C match at home to Raith Rovers.
By Gareth Scott
Briels, Keatings, King, McMullan, and goalkeeper Deniz all started as did skipper for the day Thomas Scobbie. Harry Lewis, Patrick N’Kyoi and Sam Stanton, who signed just before kick off, were all on the bench. Former United man Scott Robertson lined up for Barry Smith’s Fifers.
There was almost a dream start for United’s McMullan when he gathered the ball in the box but his shot was well saved by Lennox. Shortly after United won a corner and the ball fell to King who pulled his shot wide. With 20 minutes gone Fraser made a great run and set up Briels who shot well over. The visitors had their first effort on goal in the 24th minute. Allardice was dispossessed by Barr on the edge of the box but the Raith midfielder dragged his shot wide. Allardice then did well to pick out King but he hesitated and the ball was cleared by Robertson.
Raith then had the best chance of the half when a mistake by Deniz was collected by Spence who set up Buchanan but his goal bound shot was headed off the line by Durnan. Paul McMullan was looking really lively and he combined with King who crossed into the danger zone but the ball was cleared for a United corner. On the stroke of half time Raith went close again when Barr’s cross was nodded wide by Buchanan.
United started the second half brightly and in the opening minute McMullan found Keatings who turned and shot in the box but his effort was well saved by Lennox. United then went close again when a fine cross from Scobbie was headed just over by McMullan. Raith then threatened but a cross into the box was excellently defended by Edjenguele. Scott Fraser was beginning to get more involved and on the 51 minute mark he cut in from the left and shot just wide of the target. The visitors then had a chance when the ball broke to Euan Murray who saw his shot charged down by the home defence. With an hour on the clock United took the lead with a superb strike. Fraser did brilliantly on the right and he cut the ball back to Allardice who set up debutant McMullan and he curled the ball into the top corner of the net. Raith immediately tried to hit back when Barr crossed to Vaughan whose header was well saved by Deniz. Keatings then sent in a fine cross that Edjenguele connected with but the keeper saved from close range. United then introduced Sam Stanton for Allardice and United’s new man immediately made an impact. He latched on to a ball from King inside the penalty box and when he was barged off the ball by Davidson the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty. New striker James Keatings stepped up and scored his first goal for his new club. With the two goal cushion United made their first change when Patrick N’Koyi was handed his debut when he replaced Scott Fraser. 13 minutes from time Barry Smith made a double change when Matthews and Osei came on for Spence and Barr. McMullan was really enjoying his debut and he combined with King who crossed to Keatings but his back post shot was well blocked by the visitors. McMullan then skipped past two defenders and saw a low shot well saved by Lennox. Substitute Matthews was then the first booking of the afternoon when he was cautioned for a late challenge on McMullan. Towards the end N’Koyi had an effort for the hosts that was blocked by Robertson and then the ball fell to King who had a fierce shot well saved by Lennox. The final chance was a glorious one for Raith’s Buchanan but he was thwarted by a fine confidence boosting save by Deniz. With a few minutes remaining the United fans were given a chance to see young Archie Thomas when he replaced James Keatings.
Summing Up – the second half was certainly an improvement on a poor opening period. United made plenty of chances and will hopefully kick on and gel as a team as the weeks progress. They will be delighted with the three points against a well organised Raith side.
Man of the match – Scobbie and Keatings both had good debuts but McMullan was a threat throughout and scored a wonderful goal to send United on their way. He already looks to be a good capture by Ray McKinnon.
United: Deniz, Scobbie, Durnan, Toshney, McMullan, Fraser (N’Koyi 70), King, Edjenguele, Allardice (Stanton 68), Keatings (Thomas 87) Briels
Subs: Lewis, Donaldson, Robson, Ballantyne
Raith: Lennox, Thomson, Callachan, Murray, Benedictus, Spence (Osei 77), Robertson, Buchanan, Vaughan, Barr (Matthews 77), Davidson
Subs: Brian, Thorsen, Court, McKay, Berry
Referee: Steven McLean