It will no doubt come as a shock to you when I say this, but I’m starting to enjoy my trips to
No need to call the doctor in just yet though. For the second week in a row the Pars traveled to the land across the
In what was billed as a relegation six-pointer – even at this early stage in the campaign – the Pars side saw three changes to the side which started against Satan’s XI (Rangers) on Wednesday night. After failing late fitness tests, Greg Shields and Derek Young were replaced by the fit-again Ritchie Byrne – slotting in a left back, with Scott Thomson switching to right-back – and Darren Young, Thomas Butler dropping to the bench at the expense of Andy Tod in the other change to the starting eleven. With Toddy partnering Brewster up-front, an aerial bombardment on the home side’s goal seemed inevitable.
In what was to prove a frantic start to the game, it was to be bottom of the table United who would appear the more determined to improve their disastrous start to the campaign, Ritchie Byrne just managing to clear a dangerous early cross delivered from the left foot of Barry Robson. The home support – sporadically scattered around the stadium – would not have to wait for a goal however, after shocking indecision in the Pars defence – the main culprits being Ritchie Byrne and Andrius Skerla – allowed Jim McIntyre the perfect opportunity to round the advancing Derek Stillie in as early as the 7th minute, Stillie clearly bringing the big forward down in the process – United youngster Mark WILSON duly converting the resulting spot kick.
Any chance for the Pars supporters to become disgruntled and angered with the Pars side were quelled only a minute later however, when the Pars came up with the perfect response grabbing an equaliser thanks to defender-turned-attacker Andy TOD. After an excellent first touch by Craig Brewster, the veteran striker found Ritchie Byrne unmarked on the left hand side. With the United defence desperately scrambling back, the Irishman sent in a superb low cross which evaded all but the toe of Andy Tod, the big man poking the ball home from only five yards out – sound familiar? – to score his second goal against the Tannadice side this season.
With this, the home side once again took the initiative with Derek McInnes hitting the side netting with a 20-yard drive soon after, after good skill from Jason Scotland – the Trinidadian who was to prove to be a thorn in the Pars defence all afternoon.
The Pars were to show their intentions in the 21st minute with a fierce Barry Nicholson shot flying just over the cross bar after yet another dangerous Byrne cross into the United box. The visitors were to continue their attacking ventures with a succession of Scott Thomson free-kicks causing trouble in the home side’s defence, Donnelly firing a close range effort wide from the first, and Gary Mason sending a powerful 25-yard effort into the arms of United keeper Paul Jarvie from the second. With the Pars looking increasingly potent with each attacking foray, Darren Young was to pass up an excellent opportunity to put the Pars in the lead five minutes before half-time, sending a 15-yard effort inches wide of Jarvie’s right hand post after Simon Donnelly had sent the midfielder clear through on the United goal. The home side were to have the last say of the first half however, with Jim McIntyre coming close with a long range effort only seconds before the break, Derek Stillie showing tremendous agility to turn the effort over the bar.
A Donnelly turn and shot immediately after the break was to signal the Pars ambitions for a second-half which, in all honesty, was to prove a fairly drab and disappointing – up until a certain point of course! With both sides resorting to the much-criticised long ball tactics, the efforts on goal began to come few and far between, with both defences coping fairly well with the high ball style. A fairly tame Brewster free-kick soon after, from thirty-yards, out was to be one of the last Pars efforts for a good period of the game, with the home side suddenly realising their precarious predicament before testing the Pars defence to the extreme. A blistering Jason Scotland effort, from the edge of the Pars box, crashing off the bar shortly before the hour mark after the United forward once again showed neat skill to forge an opening.
In an effort to improve their side’s fortunes, both managers saw fit to make daring substitutions, Billy Mehmet replacing the impressive Simon Donnelly in the 61st minute before Billy Dodds replaced the equally-impressive Karim Kerkar – a move met by much disapproval among the Tannadice masses. Pars substitute Billy Mehmet was to come close only six minutes after coming on, firing wide from close range after getting on the end of yet another Ritchie Byrne cross – I’ve said this before but it just will not go in for the big man, no mater what he does! Stillie was to be called into action soon after, saving tremendously from yet another Jason Scotland, with a second United goal looking likely.
With the game petering out to a rather tedious finish, Billy Mehmet’s wide-of-the-mark header eight minutes from time looked to be the last real meaningful effort of the day’s proceedings, before the unthinkable happened two minutes into stoppage time. With home – and a handful of away – fans streaming out of the stadium safe in the knowledge that their respective teams had earned a hard-fought draw, substitute Aaron Labonte won the ball deep inside the Pars half before sending a low pass towards Billy Mehmet on the half-way line. With one superb touch, Mehmet managed to race clear of Grant Brebner, taking a touch before sending an inch-perfect cross into the unmarked Darren YOUNG, Young’s excellent diving header leaving Jarvie with no chance to send the Pars supporters wild. Since when have the Pars scored a last minute winner? Almost never. With this in mind you couldn’t thinking that United would go right back up the other end to put all the good work to waste. And so what happens? United go up the other end, win a free-kick twenty yards from goal, and…the free-kick cracks off the Pars wall and Kenny Clark blows for full-time. OH WHAT A WONDERFUL DAY!!!
If there’s one thing better than winning, then it surely has to be winning thanks to a last minute goal!
Nothing can compare to the joy felt after scoring a last-gasp injury time winner, especially after such a drab second-half. Performance-wise and determination-wise, the second-half wasn’t any better than it has been but in all honesty, the Pars never truly looked like grabbing a winner. But after such a dismal start to the season, who’s complaining?!
Once again I find myself praising the commitment and effort of the Pars players which was, yet again, first class. Although the football, at times, is as slick and confident as anything the Pars have played in the past few seasons, the Pars have failed to get into any sort of consistent rhythm of flowing football. However, with the players clearly ready to play and fight for one another, the Pars players have shown the kind of resolve which is required to drag teams out of such a desperate situation. With the players’ confidence returning more and more with each game, the performances from the Pars ‘important’ players also continue to improve. Derek Stillie – despite conceding the early penalty – was at his excellent shot-stopping best once again, pulling off a string of superb stops. The defensive pairing of Scott Wilson and Andrius Skerla continue to turn in impressive performances, looking increasingly solid and assured with each game. Scott Wilson’s strength and Andrius Skerla’s composure remain integral to a Pars defence which has been oh so important to the Pars recent upturn in form. The unsung ball-winning abilities of Gary Mason once again proved so vital to the Pars, with Dundee Utd’s attacking play dependent frequently upon the midfield trickery of Karim Kerkar. The performances of ex-Dundee Utd hero Craig Brewster continues to play a centre role in almost every single Pars attack, with his superb vision and passing always appearing to open up acres of space for the Pars side. Although in truth, individual performances aside, it was the performance of the Pars team as a whole which assured Davie Hay’s side three of the most vital points of the season so far.
To tell you the truth, I was going to spend another few hundred words ranting on about the pathetic stewarding which was yet again on show courtesy of the
With another crucially vital three points in the bag, the critical games keep coming, with the visit of managerless (oops…maybe a bit premature) Caley Thistle to
With the Pars currently occupying eighth position – nosebleed territory for this Pars coaching staff! – the winter may not turn out to be as cold and long as first imagined. I won’t hold my breath though…
Man Of The Match – SCOTT WILSON – A towering performance at the back by
PARS – Stillie 8, Thomson 6, Byrne 6, (Labonte 77) 7, Wilson 9, Skerla 8, Nicholson 5, Mason 7, Darren Young 7, Donnelly 6, (Mehmet 61) 7, Tod 7, Brewster 8.
SUBS NOT USED – Langfield,