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Dundee United 4-1 Partick Thistle: Tangerines celebrate promotion in style

United fought back to defeat the Jags.

Dundee United lift the trophy.
15 of Dundee United's title winners have departed. Image: SNS

Dundee United lapped up a colourful, raucous promotion party at a packed Tannadice following their 4-1 triumph against Partick Thistle.

United ended the season in splendid style, recovering from a Ben Stanway opener to romp to victory courtesy of strikes from Craig Sibbald, Kai Fotheringham, Tony Watt and Louis Moult.

But in reality, the football was a mere appetiser to Jim Goodwin’s champions lifting the trophy in front of 11,810 fans, with captain Ross Docherty – back in the starting line-up – doing the honours to a deafening roar.

Exactly 341 days after crashing out of the Premiership on a bleak afternoon for the club at Fir Park, United will be back in the big time next term.

“The only way is up,” to quote the Yazz tune played over the PA system prior to the action commencing.

And there was a celebratory atmosphere all evening, with the teams emerging to a spectacular tifo display. More outstanding work from the fans in the DUFC Display Team.

The stunning tifo that greeted Dundee United and Partick Thistle
The stunning tifo that greeted the two teams. Image: SNS

United were afforded a guard of honour by Thistle, with the Tangerines’ owner Mark Ogren was among those enthusiastically applauding the sides onto the field.

Prelude to a party

The feeling that that the football was something of an afterthought was only exacerbated by Thistle – preparing for a tilt at the playoffs – resting Harry Milne, Brian Graham, Scott Robinson and Aidan Fitzpatrick.

The Partick Thistle squad give Dundee United - led by ex-Jags skipper Ross Docherty - a guard of honour
The Thistle squad give Dundee United – led by ex-Jags skipper Ross Docherty – a guard of honour. Image: SNS

For United, Docherty was back, joining Liam Grimshaw and Moult in three changes from the side that officially sealed promotion with a 0-0 draw against Airdrieonians a week prior.

Kevin Holt returned to the bench after making a fine recovery from a serious knee injury.

Ben Stanway gives the Jags the lead

United were first to threaten when Moult shaped a sighter wide of the post from 25 yards. Speculative.

However, Thistle claimed the lead after 13 minutes when Zander Mackenzie was tackled on the edge of the box, only for the ball to deflect into the path of Ricco Diack.

Despite Walton clawing the ball away from the striker’s feet, Stanway was perfectly placed to tap into an empty net.

Ben Stanway relishes the moment after giving Partick Thistle the lead at Dundee United
Stanway relishes the moment after giving Thistle the lead. Image: SNS

Glenn Middleton threatened to restore parity direct from a corner before Watt saw a half-chance blocked following a swift counterattack. With no pressure on either side, this was watchable back-and-forth fare.

Middleton’s deliveries were causing havoc, and Moult headed another superb corner narrowly wide of the post.

All square at the break

United deservedly levelled on the cusp of half-time.

Craig Sibbald equalises for Dundee United against Partick Thistle
Sibbald celebrates his timely equaliser. Image: SNS

Jack McMillan inexplicably dallied on the ball inside his own box, allowing Watt to get a foot in and spark a stramash – ultimately ending with Sibbald slamming into the net. His fifth goal of a fine season.

Docherty was then denied from close-range by the legs of Stewart before Middleton zipped a drive from distance narrowly wide.

Missed opportunities

United almost claimed the lead in calamitous – from a Thistle perspective – fashion, with McMillan skewing a clearance into the path of Sibbald, who somehow failed to covert from a couple of yards.

The combative midfielder then danced past a couple of challenges before fizzing a ferocious shot inches past the post.

The Tangerines were handed a glorious opportunity to claim the lead when Moult hit the deck under minimal contact from Jags keeper Stewart. Referee Steven McLean awarded the contentious penalty.

Louis Moult sees his Dundee United penalty saved
Moult sees his spot-kick saved. Image: SNS

Perhaps justice was done when Moult’s spot-kick was saved.

Fotheringham and Watt get the party started

But United didn’t have long to wait to complete their turnaround.

Kai Fotheringham makes it 2-1 to Dundee United
Kai Fotheringham makes it 2-1 to United. Image: SNS

On the hour-mark, Moult was the creator, slipping a wonderful through-ball to Fotheringham, who scampered through on goal and slipped a clinical low finish past Stewart. 

Watt, wearing the captain’s armband following Docherty’s withdrawal, made the game safe when he fired through the legs of Stewart following an excellent surge forward and cut-back by McMann.

And there was still time for Moult to hit 20 goals for the season. The experienced front-man made amends for his earlier penalty miss by slamming home a perfect spot-kick after Kieran Ngwenya scythed down Middleton.

Tony Watt is congratulated after his excellent finish
Watt is congratulated after his excellent finish. Image: SNS

With the victory, United have gained the most points of any second tier champion (75) since Rangers in 2015/16.

They have also equalled the record for the meanest defence (23 goals conceded) since the introduction of a 36-game season in 1994, sharing it with the St Johnstone side of 1996/97.

United: worthy winners of the Championship.

Player ratings:

Dundee United (4-4-2): Walton 6; Grimshaw 6 (Thomson 75), McClelland 7 (Gallagher 60), Graham 7 (Holt 60), McMann 8; Fotheringham 8 (Cudjoe 68), Docherty 7 (Wotherspoon 60), Sibbald 8, Middleton 8; Moult 7, Watt 7 (MacLeod 75).

Subs not used: Newman, Tillson, Meekison.

Ref: Steven McLean

Att: 11,810

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