Ray McKinnon has admitted his Dundee United squad feels “lightweight” when it comes to fit defenders ahead of the clash with Dunfermline. The in-form and free-scoring Pars have found the net 21 times in just seven Championship matches so just when the Tannadice boss would love to report a clean bill of health for his backline he is left short of numbers for the trip to East End Park on Saturday. The heart scare for Paul Quinn means he is booked in to see a cardiologist this week; Lewis Toshney is ruled out for at least three weeks after damaging his ankle ligaments; the expected return to training of Tam Scobbie has had to be delayed after he hurt his calf; and William Edjenguele sat out training after picking up a knock. Understandably, McKinnon’s greatest concern surrounds the health of Quinn. The United manager said: “Paul is still away from the club. “He is waiting on a heart scan, which will happen this week. “He has to see the cardiologist. “We want to get to the bottom of it and Paul does too. “It is a concern when it’s the heart but we are hoping the cardiologist gives him the all-clear. “We would love him to be back here fit and playing and he would like that to be the case as well. “We are a bit light at the back and are really left with four fit defenders. “It is not ideal so we would love Paul to get back fit and healthy as soon as possible. “We will just have to wait and see what the cardiologist says. “His health comes first. He has a problem and we need to address it.” As for Toshney, McKinnon confirmed: “It will be three weeks minimum for him and I am so disappointed for him.” Scobbie hasn’t played since the Dundee derby on August 9 but the hope was that he would be back involved this week. However, that hasn’t happened. McKinnon added: “Tam has had a setback with his calf. “It is probably just a case of trying to do too much to compensate for his hip. “So that’s a blow for him and it could be another couple of weeks before he is back. “We also have big William not managing to train because of a knock. “It’s not great because we have been looking a bit more solid at the back since that one game (against St Mirren) when it just didn’t go right for us. "Paul McMullan has also missed training because he has a bit of a hamstring problem. “However, we still hope some of those who have missed training will be fine for Saturday."
Dundee frontman A-Jay Leitch-Smith insists Tomas Cerny should not have stayed on the park to save his penalty. Leitch-Smith had already opened the scoring for the dominant Dark Blues when he was fouled by the Jags goalie on 23 minutes. Instead of handing the ball to nominated taker Sofien Moussa, Leitch-Smith took the spotkick himself and looked on in horror as Cerny stuck out a leg to save his shot. That was just one of many golden chances missed by Dundee and they were made to suffer for their poor finishing as Thistle grabbed an injury-time goal through substitute Miles Storey to secure a highly-unlikely 2-1 victory. The decision by referee Euan Anderson to merely book Cerny rather than send him off angered both Dens boss Neil McCann and Leitch-Smith himself. The on-loan Shrewsbury Town player said: "The keeper should have been sent off as I was clean through on goal. "I was expecting him to go off as I had gone round him and all I would have had to do was tap it into an empty net. "So I was expecting a red card. "I knocked it to the side of him and he has brought me to the floor and that is a clear goalscoring opportunity.” Manager McCann agreed, saying: "That's the defining moment (the penalty save). “I saw the Partick Thistle players going over to him at the end because it was the defining moment. "I don't think Cerny makes any attempt to get the ball. “Now the rules are, if you make a genuine attempt to get the ball it's a booking. “There is no attempt there to win the ball - he has cleaned out the player. "Without doubt I am absolutely fizzing inside because it takes me all my control at the side of the pitch not to lose my rag and get sent to the stand. "That's a disgraceful decision. “There is no attempt (to win the ball), I don't care what anyone says. “He should have walked." As for the decision to take it himself rather than hand the ball to Moussa, Leitch-Smith added: "If you win the penalty then you want to take it - don't you? "The manager mentioned that Moussa should have taken it after the game. "I tried to wait for the keeper to move and he left his leg there. "Unfortunately, I missed when I should have scored.”
Paul McGowan has revealed he was shocked by the scale and intensity of the Dundee derby when he first experienced it. The Dundee midfielder will be bit of a veteran at Dens Park on Sunday, having faced city rivals Dundee United no fewer than nine times. His first and last derbies could not have been more contrasting: a 4-1 loss at Dens in September 2014 that sent the visitors to the top of the table kicked it all off, while the 2-1 win in the “Doon Derby” of May 2016 when United's relegation was confirmed was his last meeting with the neighbours, although he came off injured before the real drama began. He had to wait until his fourth game to taste success but he was nevertheless already a huge fan of the fixture by then. Indeed, McGowan loves it so much that we would welcome Ray McKinnon’s men back up with open arms and admits that he missed not facing them last season when the sides were in different divisions. Of course, that will be the same story this time as the Tangerines strive to win the Championship and the Dens men aim for a top-six spot in the Premiership. However, the Betfred Cup has done the city a favour by supplying both sets of fans with a much-anticipated Group C decider this weekend. The Dark Blues go into the big game on the back of an encouraging result and performance with their 3-0 defeat of Cowdenbeath at Central Park on Wednesday that saw striker Sofien Moussa bag a hat-trick. That success has given McGowan and his teammates a timely boost ahead of Sunday. As good as the display was, though, he believes Dundee can still step up another level and he would love it to be against the city rivals. “It’s a massive game for us against United,” said McGowan. “It was a professional performance against Cowdenbeath - another win and another clean sheet. “Now we can concentrate on the derby and I am sure some of our new boys will get a rude awakening when the game comes around. “I don’t think they will know what it is going to be like because I was the same when I first arrived at the club. “I didn’t expect the derby to be as big as it was. “I was certainly quite surprised in my first one. “It was an eye-opener for me, to see and hear how passionate the fans were. “Then, when we went down to Tannadice and had sold out the full away end, that was great. There was a brilliant atmosphere. “We then put them down and for the Dundee fans, who have possibly suffered a lot more than the United fans over the years, that was a great day. “I only lasted 15 minutes that night because I dislocated my shoulder but it was a great occasion and it is something the fans will have over the United supporters for a long time to come.” McGowan’s next view may not be shared by some Dundee diehards but he insists he has missed not playing United and would like to see them get promoted. “It is a massive game and I missed it last season - I honestly did,” he said. “I think it would be good for the league to have it back. “Now you have Hibs back up with Hearts and it would probably be for the benefit of the Premiership if United got back up too. “It would make the league a bit better, more interesting, and give us that bit of rivalry. “The derby is a game all the fans miss and it is a game that has been sorely missed in the city. “I definitely miss it so I am looking forward to this one and hopefully we can go and beat them. “I have played in the derby quite a few times and the games are amazing. They are maybe not the best of spectacles but it's end-to-end stuff.” With a fine victory over Cowden setting them up nicely, McGowan believes the best is yet to come from the Dark Blues and he hopes the step-up will come on Sunday. “We are not the finished article,” he added. “We know we can go even higher but I was really pleased with the performance on Wednesday. “I think if we go and implement our game plan we will do well against United. “No disrespect to Cowdenbeath or Buckie, and it doesn’t apply so much to Raith, but Sunday will be a big step-up. “They have good players but I am 100% confident with the winners we have in our team that if we turn up and play the way we can we will do well. “I am looking forward to it and I know we can go and beat them. “But if we think we’re just going to turn up and beat them we will be mistaken. “I will let the boys know that, especially the new ones.”
Dundee ran out of steam on their second successive trip to Glasgow as they were well beaten by Rangers. After being the better team in a 1-1 draw with Hearts at home last Sunday they then proved their doubters wrong with an excellent display as they held champions-elect Celtic to a goalless draw at Parkhead on Wednesday night. This wasn’t their day at Ibrox as the hosts scored through Kenny Miller on 39 minutes, Alfredo Morelos tapped in on 68 then Jamie Murphy made it three on 79 minutes. In the final minute, man-of-the-match Daniel Candeias made it 4-0 when he smashed a shot past sub goalkeeper Calum Ferrie, who had replaced the injured Elliot Parish 10 minutes earlier. As well as the goals, the Light Blues struck the woodwork three times so it could have been much worse. The defeat leaves the Dark Blues now four points clear of Ross County, who occupy the play-off spot ahead of basement boys Partick Thistle. The Jags trail the Dens men by five points. So it is all to play for going into the post-split fixtures. The good thing, from a Dundee perspective, is that they don't look like a relegation-threatened side despite this heavy loss at Ibrox. That should stand them in good stead for the battles ahead.
Dundee United’s comprehensive clear-out has begun. Manager Csaba Laszlo has wasted little time in telling a host of his players that they can leave Tannadice. Indeed, the number of first-team squad members he wants to keep can almost be counted on one hand. The Tangerines crashed out of the Premiership promotion play-offs at Livingston on Friday night and the following day there was a meeting called at the behest of Laszlo to break the news. The Hungarian, who is expected to be officially confirmed today as staying on next season, wants to clear the decks. It is understood that defenders Bilel Mohsni and Stewart Murdoch have been told they are still wanted, while an offer has been made to injured midfielder Fraser Fyvie. However, through the exit door is expected to go the likes of Scott Fraser, Scott McDonald, Paul Quinn, Mark Durnan, Jordie Briels, Grant Gillespie, Emil Lyng and Craig Slater, while the loan deals for Harry Lewis, Anthony Ralston and Thomas Mikkelsen have concluded. William Edjenguele and Tam Scobbie both have a year left on their contracts but they have been told they are free to find other clubs, while captain Willo Flood would be retained but only if he fancied an expanded role to include coaching.
A Fraser Fyvie masterclass helped Dundee United stamp their authority back on the Championship with a remarkable win over Dunfermline. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xydHMX1Bb4I Going into this much-anticipated fixture at East End Park, the Pars were sitting pretty at the top of the table and were scoring goals seemingly at will. However, the Tangerines tore them apart and fired a stark warning to the rest of the division that the pre-season promotion favourites are back in business after a dip in form. Fyvie was at the heart of all that was good about this performance from Ray McKinnon's men and on 35 minutes he gave the Tangerines the lead with a low strike. The advantage was doubled two minutes before half-time when Scott McDonald fired home from close range then the stage was cleared for Fyvie to bring the house down with a brilliant strike just before the hour. The home team got a goal back on 77 minutes when sub Callum Smith headed home but that was all Dunfermline could manage before the whistle blew. United made just the one change from their Morton win, bringing veteran midfielder Willo Flood in to play at right-back in place of the injured Lewis Toshney. Toshney’s expected replacement, Stewart Murdoch, had to call off ill. The hosts, unsurprisingly given their form, were unchanged from the line-up that started against Brechin City. With four minutes on the clock, the visitors looked to have found a way through the home defence when Fyvie played in McDonald but the offside flag went up. The game hadn’t quite lived up to its match of the day tag in the early stages but, on 20 minutes, Dunfermline’s Kallum Higginbotham sent his half-volley wide of the post from a good position. With 28 minutes gone, the Pars had another go, this time Declan McManus firing in a low shot that keeper Harry Lewis gathered. New Scotland under-21 squad member Ryan Williamson then fired wide after he was found by a short freekick from Higginbotham. Just when you thought the Pars were gaining traction in the game, United went up the park and scored. There were 35 minutes on the clock when Jamie Robson, who had been having a fine match for United, raced up the left and his cross-shot was pushed away by goalie Sean Murdoch. Unfortunately for the Fifers, the parry landed right in front of Fyvie, whose drilled, low shot from 10 yards found the back of the net. Former Tannadice defender Callum Morris was booked for a bad challenge on James Keatings and it wasn’t long before United’s McDonald followed suit for hacking Jason Talbot. Then, just a couple of minutes before the break, the large travelling support went crazy as the Tangerines went 2-0 up. The Pars conceded a freekick inside their own half when Lee Ashcroft brought down McDonald. Keatings sent the setpiece into the box and it struck the body of Edjenguele and fell for the wee Australian poacher, who slammed the ball home. Remarkably, it could have been three for United before half-time as they broke three-on-two. McMullan was the one who was played in but his shot was deflected up into the air. Billy King saw his chance and sent a shot crashing off the Pars bar before it was finally cleared. The Pars brought on Smith for David Hopkirk at the break. On 54 minutes, visiting keeper Lewis caused a bit of panic when he dropped the ball in front of goal and Flood had to boot it clear. The United fans were on their feet celebrating again on 59 minutes when a fabulous strike from Fyvie made it 3-0. A Keatings freekick hit the Dunfermline wall and eventually the ball made its way out right to Flood, who drilled a cross back over. The ball ricocheted again and spun up for Fyvie, who was standing just outside the box and blasted it on the half-volley high into the net past Murdoch. On 64 minutes, the now rampant Tangerines roared forward again and McMullan looked set to slot the ball past Murdoch but fell to the floor. The penalty claims were unconvincing. Robson then posed a danger to the Pars on 74 minutes when he raced into the box but his shot was blocked. Three minutes later, the hosts got one back when sub Smith nodded past Lewis after he was picked out by a McManus cross. With their lead reduced, United had some nervy moments as Dunfermline chased a second that really would have ensured it was game on. However, they saw the match out and their best performance of the season was matched by their best result of the campaign so far. Attendance: 7,585. Dunfermline: Murdoch, Williamson, Talbot, Morris, Ashcroft, McManus (Ryan 82), Higginbotham, Wedderburn, Clark, Shiels (Splaine 65), Hopkirk (C. Smith 46). Subs not used: Gill, Martin, Aird, Lochead. Dundee United: Lewis, Durnan, McMullan, McDonald (N'Koyi 90), King, Edjenguele, Flood, Robson, Keatings (Stanton 76), Briels, Fyvie. Subs not used: Deniz, Fraser, Allardice, M. Smith, Davidson. Referee: Don Robertson.
The SFA should be awarded a gallantry medal for bravery under fire. With a great many fans wanting Gordon Strachan drummed out of the service as Scotland boss, the blazers went over the top in defence of their man. (Article continues here.)
Dundee United manager Ray McKinnon is demanding that his players up their game considerably when they host Dumbarton. The Tangerines signed off for the international break in the league schedule with a dismal display away to St Mirren as they crashed to a 3-0 defeat. Now they have the chance to restore some confidence and belief when they meet the Sons at Tannadice on Saturday. That won’t be a walkover, however, as they found out to their cost when they lost twice and drew once against Dumbarton last season. However, the United boss wants to see his players get their promotion push back on track after falling from first to fourth place in the Championship following that flop in Paisley. McKinnon said: “I am expecting a big improvement, especially in respect of the pace the game is played at. “The players are getting fitter and it’s about getting at Dumbarton. “Teams do come and sit in against us and even Alloa did that on Saturday. “You only have to look how Malta sat in against Scotland on Monday night to see it’s not easy to play against that. “When you have to be the offensive team all the time and create numerous chances all the time then it’s tough but I’m expecting better from us.” Striker Patrick N’Koyi, whose penalty got a sluggish United shadow side up and running against Alloa in the Irn-Bru Cup last weekend, is in serious contention for a first-team start against the Sons. McKinnon: “I think he is close. “He might play on Saturday in a two (man attack). “If not then we will definitely get him in the team at some point. “He is much fitter now and is strong, with a languid running style. “I think he will get his chance sooner rather than later.” Also, McKinnon revealed that injured defender Tam Scobbie is making good progress. He added: “Tam has actually been doing really well and was jogging the other day. “We are going to take our time with him, though, and he could be back around four weeks from now, which would be incredible.”
Dundee United boss Ray McKinnon has told Jamie Robson he will be better off staying at Tannadice in order to get first-team experience. English Premier League side Southampton wanted Robson to join them on a loan basis last week before the transfer window closed. With Tam Scobbie out injured that would have left the Tangerines without a fit left-back to call upon. More importantly, though, McKinnon feels Robson’s career will be enhanced by playing in United’s senior side in the Championship in Scotland rather than heading south for under-23 football. McKinnon said: “There wasn’t an official bid for him and they wanted to take him on loan to have a look at him. “The thing is, though, that we needed him here because we would have been left without a left-back. “What I have done is tell him that he would be better off with us in the first team getting better experience than playing in an under-23s side. “I am not one for standing in people’s way, especially if there is interest from Premier League clubs in England, but I definitely think that would be best for him. “If an opportunity comes up in future then we won’t stand in his way but, as I said, there wasn’t an official bid for Jamie.” The Tangerines returned to training at St Andrews yesterday following the international break and the manager feels his squad is in better shape now than it was beforehand. “Last week was tough because we had nine players injured but people are starting to come back now,” he said. “It has been a bit stop-start for us because of injuries to the likes of James Keatings but we are getting there.” Meanwhile, McKinnon’s men will go up against Northern Irish side Linfield in the third round of the Irn-Bru Cup after the draw was made yesterday. “It is an interesting one and we will look forward to it,” said McKinnon.
Dundee United captain Willo Flood felt Ray McKinnon was still the right man to guide the club back to the Premiership. The 2-0 reverse at home on Saturday to Inverness appears to have been McKinnon’s last game in charge but, despite United being woeful against John Robertson’s side, Flood would have liked him to have been given the chance to turn things around. Speaking before it became apparent that McKinnon's departure was imminent, Flood said: "The manager is Dundee United through and through. He gives everything. “The players want him to stay because he's a top fella as well. "Results aren't going our way at the moment but I've been in this game long enough to know how quickly things can change. "We need to stick together and become a group again.” Flood admitted that, with so much at stake for United this season, every defeat takes on added significance. He said: "I think some of the boys maybe thought Dundee United were going to dominate games this season and it was going to be easy but it's not going to be like that. "When you lose one or two games in this division, it's magnified because a club this size is in the Championship. "I've been on many a bad run with United in the Premiership when we've lost to Rangers, Celtic and Hearts. "And because you're losing to big teams people don't really go on about it. "This season is magnified, though, because we're losing against teams in the Championship which isn't good enough for this club. "The Dumbarton game coming up is now massive. We need to get this club back to having a heart. "That was the biggest thing for me which we lacked against Inverness. "We need to get that going when we go to Dumbarton." Saturday’s display in defeat really was a painful watch for everyone of a tangerine persuasion. Inverness had a gilt-edged opportunity in just the fifth minute when the excellent Liam Polworth swung a free-kick in from the right with Carl Tremarco finding space and time in the home box but he directed his header straight at Tangerines keeper Harry Lewis. The United defence was posted missing in action again shortly after when Polworth flighted a corner in from the right with John Baird having a free header which he sent over the bar. McKinnon’s men had their first chance of the match in the 17th minute when James Keatings hit a 20-yard free-kick which Inverness keeper Mark Ridgers acrobatically palmed away for a corner. However, it was Caley who took the lead in the 28th minute. Polworth again sent a corner in from the right with Flood attempting to clear. Unfortunately, he only found Iain Vigurs who hit a rising shot from just inside the box past Lewis with the help of a deflection off a home defender. The Tangerines almost replied instantly when Scott McDonald hit a snap shot inside the Inverness penalty area but Ridgers produced a superb save to deny the striker. Things then went from bad to worse for the Tangerines in the 37th minute when Caley doubled their advantage. Polworth sent Jake Mulraney scampering down the right with a great pass and he hit the byeline before cutting the ball across goal to Connor Bell at the back post for a simple tap-in. Caley had another great chance to extend their lead even further in the 56th minute when Tremarco again found space in the Tangerines’ box but Lewis made a vital block to keep out his shot. On the hour mark, McKinnon withdrew Paul McMullan for Stewart Murdoch with defender Mark Durnan being pressed into service as a centre-forward. However, Caley continued to look comfortable in defence and dangerous on the break and successfully saw out the game to take all three points with the final whistle being greeted with a deafening barrage of boos from the home support. Flood admitted that after the Livingston loss, everyone had expected United to bounce back strongly against ICT but that never materialised. He added: "The reaction from the Livingston game just didn't happen. "For the first 20 minutes we were on top but we didn't score, and then we give away a poor goal which involved myself although it took a deflection as well and it ends up in the net. "Then they score again which leaves us with a mountain to climb. "It just gets worse when things aren't going your way.”