SPFL Championship: DUNDEE UNITED 1 DUNFERMLINE 0: 11/04/17
The fifth last match of the league campaign took the Pars on the road to Dundee. At Tannadice the home side was looking for a win to close within pone point of Falkirk and depending on how Morton got on at home to St Mirren, the opportunity to leapfrog them into third place.
The Fifers on the other hand are always looking upwards and a win for them would take them to within six points of their opponents and into fifth place above Queen of the South on goal difference. Both managers named unchanged starting elevens the only change being on the subs benches where David Hutton replaced Cammy Gill and United named Ali Coote in place of Alex Nicholls.
Andy Geggan led the team out in a cool April evening, Nicky Clark kicked off with the Pars attacking the goal at the east end of the ground. The visitors started promisingly with neat skills from Nat Wedderburn picking out an unfortunately offside Kallum Higginbotham all within the first minute. Two minutes later Geggan made ground up the right before chipping over an inviting ball that Michael Moffat headed wide left.
United responded with Blair Spittal bursting up the right to deliver a dangerous ball across the six yard box with Thomas Mikkelsen only inches away from converting the chance.
A seventh minute Moffat shot from 22 yards went straight to Cammy Bell before two minutes later Rhys McCabe sent a long throw in from the left that Mark Durnan headed out only as far as Paul McMullan but his shot was blocked by Scott Allardyce.
Durnan turned a Higginbotham cross behind to give Dunfermline the first corner of the night after 13 minutes but when Higginbotham delivered Callum Morris could not get enough on his header to send the ball on target.
The Fifers had enjoyed the territorial advantage for the opening quarter of an hour but Geggan had to be alert to guide away the ball intended for Mikkelsen`s head. The Pars looked comfortable but in 22 minutes Spittal sent the ball into the right side of the Pars box where Simon Murray latched on to the ball and sent a left footed effort into the sidenetting.
A 25th minute long throw from the right by McCabe found Morris` head but again not enough purchase on it to give Bell anything other than an easy catch. Great play from McCabe breaking down the right set up Moffat but from eight yards his indecision led to a spectacular miss with only the keeper to beat.
United went down the park and scored the opener. Murray sent the ball in from the right and MIKKELSEN swept the ball past Murdoch. Half an hour played 1-0.
Two balls in from the right were cleared by the towering William Edjenguele, the first from a cross the second from another McCabe long throw. Dunfermline were lucky in 43rd minute when Morris missed a clearance and the ball dropped for Murray but taken by surprise, he could only turn the ball into Murdoch`s hands.
As the half came to an end Clark had an opportunity from a Higginbotham cut back but Edjenguele blocked the effort. Next McCabe suffered the same fate from his shot and so the visitors went in one down.
Half time: Dundee United 1 Dunfermline 0
Within a minute of the restart Spittal was played through into the right side of the box but Murdoch was out quick to save with his feet.
The Pars first chance of the half came in 49 minutes with a pass from McCabe to Geggan sent on to Higginbotham who flashed the ball across the face of goal to no effect.
United produced an impressively swift move with Murdoch racing up the right, playing the ball off Spittal before getting in to centre an inviting ball but the Pars defence cut out the cross as Andreu waited for it.
There was a let off when Andreu`s 59th minute shot from 22 yards out hit the left upright but the Pars survived and McCabe won a corner on the right. Morris connected when the ball came over but Bell held.
With 25 minutes remaining the Pars management made a change. Andy Geggan and Michael Moffat were withdrawn and Ryan Williamson and Gavin Reilly were introduced. United followed that four minutes later when 19 year old Scott Allardyce was withdrawn and Lewis Toshney went on.
Williamson got deep up the right in 72 minutes but his cross got no takers. At the other end Willo Flood worked his way into the Pars box but McCabe turned in unison and made a fine block to deny the shot heading on target.
Spittal beat two men before crashing a 76th minute shot on target from the edge of the box but Murdoch dropped to his right to make a fine save. Joe Cardle was the final card for the luckless Pars, McMullan going off. Dunfermline were chasing hard to every ball but United bore the strain well. A Higginbotham lob from the far side bounced awkwardly on the top of the United box but that only deceived Talbot and again United cleared.
Wedderburn ended the game struggling after a challenge with Andreu who ended up no better off either. A 90th minute Higginbotham corner was all too easily defended. Reilly had a shot blocked and there was to be no goals for the 658 travelling fans to celebrate. United missed a glorious chance in the third minute of added time when Nick van der Velden struck from ten yards out and yet again Murdoch pulled off a fine save but it ended 1-0.
DUNDEE UNITED: Cammy Bell (c): Mark Durnan, Stewart Murdoch, William Edjenguelle, Jamie Robson: Blair Spittal (Nick van der Velden 79), Willo Flood, Tony Andreu, Simon Murray, Scott Allardyce (Lewis Toshney 69), Thomas Mikkelson (Ali Coote 87)
SUBS NOT USED: Charlie Telfer, Paul Dixon, Wato Kuate, Luis Maria Zwick (GK)
SCORERS: Mikkelsen (30)
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch: Andy Geggan (c)(Ryan Williamson 65), Callum Morris, Lee Ashcroft, Jason Talbot: Kallum Higginbotham, Nat Wedderburn, Rhys McCabe, Paul McMullan (Joe Cardle 77): Michael Moffat (Gavin Reilly 65), Nicky Clark.
SUBS NOT USED: Michael Paton, Lewis Martin, Lewis Spence, David Hutton (GK)
REFEREE: Willie Collum
WEATHER: Dull 11C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship (away) v Dumbarton, Saturday 15th April 2017, 3.00pm kick off at The Cheaper Insurance Direct Stadium.
Ladbrokes Championship: v Dundee United, Saturday 30th September 2017, kick off 3.00pm