Dundee United slumped to their second successive Championship defeat after being comprehensively beaten by Inverness at Tannadice. Caley who started the day second bottom of the league table, opened the scoring through Iain Vigurs and then added a second before half-time thanks to Connor Bell. Caley were by far the better side and fully deserved their victory while there were few in a tangerine shirt deserving of pass marks. Dundee United boss Ray McKinnon made two changes from the side that lost 2-0 at Livingston last week with Sam Stanton and Lewis Toshney coming in for Billy King and the injured Jordie Briels. There was a welcome return to the bench for Tam Scobbie and Scott Fraser. Former United defender Coll Donaldson was in the Inverness starting line-up along with ex-Dundee striker John Baird. The Highland outfit had a gilt-edged opportunity in just the fifth minute when 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 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. James Keatings was brought crashing down in a challenge by Brad McKay who earned himself a booking from ref Willie Collum. Keatings picked himself up and hit a superb 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 Willo Flood attempting to head clear. Unfortunately, he only found Vigurs who hit a rising shot from just inside the box past Lewis with what looked like 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 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.
Dundee suffered a heartbreaking, last-gasp defeat against Rangers at Ibrox, conceding a goal in the 93rd minute of the game. The Dark Blues had withstood enormous pressure to frustrate the life out of the Glasgow outfit with every one of Paul Hartley’s men deserving enormous credit for their brave performance. It seemed certain they would leave Govan with a potentially priceless point but instead their efforts counted for nothing in the end with results elsewhere meaning Dundee have slipped back to the bottom of the Premiership table. Hartley kept faith with the team that started against Motherwell two weeks ago with the exception of keeper David Mitchell who was replaced between the sticks by Scott Bain. Rangers dominated the opening proceedings and manufactured a great chance in the ninth minute when Josh Windass played in Joe Garner who spun 12 yards out but pulled his shot just past Bain’s right-hand post. Rangers were in full control of the game, bossing possession with the Dark Blues – playing in pink – struggling to get out of their own half. Home goalie Wes Foderingham finally had a save to make in the 25th minute when he had to dive to his right to keep out a dangerous 30-yard Tom Hateley free-kick. The same Dundee player took the resulting corner and he found Marcus Haber in space at the far post but the big striker seemed to be caught in two minds and produced a tame header that was easily dealt with. The half finished with Rangers once again in the ascendant but the scores remained level at the break. However, the big question was just how much the opening 45 efforts had taken out of the Dark Blues? The second half followed a similar pattern to the first with Mark Warburton’s men well on top but struggling to find a way past the dogged Dark Blues. Hartley’s men were hanging in there and had an opportunity of their own in the 67th minute when Hateley whipped in a free-kick from the left edge of the Rangers box with Foderingham pulling off a fantastic fingertip save to deny him. Dundee then had another chance when Haber sent a cutback in from the right with James Vincent looking certain to have a tap-in but a Rangers defender made a vital last-ditch interception. Bain then came to his side’s rescue with a superb diving stop from a Jason Holt shot. Rangers continued to huff and puff but it seemed certain they would find no way through as the clock ticked down but then in the third minute of added-on time, Joe Dodoo put a ball in from the left to fellow sub Harry Forrester who sent a glancing header past Bain to break Dundee hearts. For full report, reaction and analysis, see Monday’s Courier.
Dundee United’s recent winning run came to an end at the Glebe with bottom of the table Brechin producing a brave, battling performance to secure a share of the spoils. The Tangerines opened the scoring in the first half through Scott McDonald but were stunned at the start of the second 45 when Brechin equalised thanks to Sean Crighton. Home manager Darren Dods made two changes from the side that beat Buckie Thistle in the Scottish Cup last week with Isaac Layne and former United defender Euan Spark coming in for Gary Fusco and Jordan Sinclair, who both dropped to the bench. Tangerines boss Csaba Laszlo kept faith with the same starting XI that beat Falkirk last Sunday at Tannadice. United clicked into gear quickly, spraying the ball about confidently but their first real opportunity of the game did not arrive until the 14th minute when Billy King cracked a shot in from the edge of the Brechin penalty area which home keeper Graeme Smith did well to parry. It was very much one-way traffic though with Dods’ men struggling to get out of their own half against the dominant visitors. Brechin did have a chance in the 27th minute when they broke from inside their own half with the ball finding Layne on the right but he dragged his shot wide of United keeper Harry Lewis’s back post. However, home resistance was finally broken in the 29th minute when King broke into the Brechin box before hitting a cut-back that took a touch off Sam Stanton then made its way towards McDonald who made no mistake with a close-range finish past Smith to give United a deserved lead. McDonald then tried his luck from the left edge of the Brechin box but his snap shot flew straight into Smith’s arms. However, the home side came storming back into the game just two minutes after the restart. Liam Watt swung a corner in from the right with Crighton rising highest to send a downward header past the helpless Lewis. Brechin tails were up and just before the hour mark, United’s Mark Durnan had to make a superb tackle to deny Layne as he attempted to burst through on goal. The same Brechin player then tried a shot on the turn from 18 yards but his effort sailed over Lewis’s bar. In the 72nd minute, Brechin had another opportunity when United failed to clear a corner with Paul McLean hooking a shot just wide. Brechin had an incredible let-off nine minutes later when Jamie Robson produced a great cross from the left towards McDonald who looked certain to score from close range but the striker sent his effort over the bar. City then had a great chance of their own when Layne released Finn Graham who advanced on goal before unleashing a great effort that Lewis did well to keep out. United were then reduced to 10 men in the 91st minute when skipper Tam Scobbie who had been booked earlier, was shown a second yellow card after pulling back Connor McLennan as he raced through. Sinclair was brought on to take the resultant 25-yard free-kick with Lewis having to dive low to his right to deny him and ensure the game finished all square.
Dundee United boss Ray McKinnon will use the international break to try to ensure his squad are all as close as possible to the same high level of fitness. The Tangerines are still licking their wounds after Saturday’s St Mirren mauling with Jack Ross’s side running out comfortable 3-0 winners. McKinnon was bitterly disappointed with the result and performance in Paisley but has already shifted his focus to the next Championship game with Dumbarton on September 9 at Tannadice. Before then, United play Alloa in the Irn Bru Challenge Cup this weekend and the manager admitted he has plenty of food for thought over his selection for that game. McKinnon said: "We need to take these two weeks and use them to our advantage. "We've got to use Saturday's game as well to make sure everyone is at their peak for the match with Dumbarton as that's the important one. "Whether we use Saturday's cup tie with Alloa to give some people game-time – or take them out to do other things with them to get them to where they need to be in the next two weeks – we'll decide on that. "It's a delicate one for sure. We have to get that balance right. "There are people who probably need to play on Saturday and others who will do something else. "We're a team who are all over the spectrum in terms of fitness right now. "There are loads of guys trying to get to that necessary level like Willo Flood, Jordy Briels, James Keatings and Scott Fraser to name just a few. "It's difficult but it's a real balancing act trying to get everyone up to speed." McKinnon and his squad sat down on Monday to pore over the video nasty of their game at St Mirren. The manager admitted they had pinpointed the reasons for the poor performance in Paisley and they will now work hard to rectify them. He said: “It (watching video) was something that needed to be done. “Listen, the manner we were beaten on Saturday, we didn’t have enough energy or fight but there are reasons for that. “There are always reasons for defeats but you have to find them and we did. “We looked back at the game and found the reasons. What we have to do now is rectify them to give everyone the opportunity to play at their best. “For instance, the defence was sitting 30 yards deeper than the midfield who were 30 yards off it. “There was just far too much room for St Mirren. We couldn’t close the gaps. “There were loads of factors but all we need to do is to use these two weeks to get everyone back as close to peak fitness as possible.”
St Johnstone fans can start looking out their passports once more with their side securing a place in Europe with this narrow but deserved win over Partick Thistle at McDiarmid Park. Danny Swanson scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot in the first-half with Saints creating a host of chances in the second 45. The Perth side had gone into the game knowing that just a point against Partick would cement their place in fourth spot in the Premiership table and secure European football once again after Hearts lost at Ibrox against Rangers in the lunchtime kick-off. St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright made three changes from the side that lost at Celtic Park last week with Alan Mannus replacing Zander Clark between the sticks while David Wotherspoon came in for Blair Alston and Tam Scobbie replaced suspended skipper Steven Anderson. The first meaningful chance of the game fell to the Jags in the 13th minute when Ryan Edwards capitalised on a defensive mix-up and let fly with an angled drive but Mannus dived to his right to push the ball to safety. St Johnstone were struggling in an attacking sense with Jags keeper Tomas Cerny a virtual spectator. That inaction could partly account for the mess he made of a Swanson long-range shot just before the half-hour mark but when he spilled the ball, there was no-one in a Saints shirt able to take advantage. However, St Johnstone did take the lead in the 33rd minute. Swanson skipped into the Thistle box and was tripped by Niall Keown with referee Stephen Finnie having no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Swanson dusted himself down before calmly dispatching the penalty low to Cerny’s right and into the corner of the net. Saints started the second 45 in determined fashion and Cerny had to look lively to hold a 22-yard fierce shot from Liam Craig. Shortly after, Craig turned provider when he sent a dangerous free-kick in from the left with Cerny having to pull off a fantastic save to keep out a Scobbie header. David Wotherspoon then played an incisive pass into the advancing Richard Foster as he burst into the Jags box with Cerny again coming to the rescue, diving at the full-back’s feet to snuff out the danger. Saints had another huge shout for a penalty when Thistle sub Steven Lawless barged into the back of Paul Paton, sending the home midfielder tumbling but this time Mr Finnie was not convinced. Wright’s men continued to dominate and in the 74th minute Swanson embarked on a great run before unleashing a rising shot that Cerny did well to tip over. The St Johnstone playmaker, who will be joining Hibs next season, was substituted in the 86th minute and came off to a standing ovation from the home fans who were celebrating shortly after as the referee blew for full-time. For full reaction and analysis, see Monday’s Courier.
Tam Scobbie knows all about Tayside derbies having played in enough of them for St Johnstone. However, it will be a step into the unknown for the 29-year-old defender now that he is at Dundee United when his side make the short journey to Dens this Sunday in the Betfred Cup. As is traditional, the Tangerines squad will walk to their rivals’ ground, something that came as a bit of a surprise to Scobbie, who said: “I just thought we’d get the bus, to be honest! “It will be something different that I haven’t experienced before. “I am sure when the fixtures were announced all the boys wanted to be part of it. “Everyone in the dressing-room will make sure they are properly prepared to go there and hopefully get a result. “It will be a massive game. Our fans have sold out their allocation of tickets so they will be looking forward to going up the road to their big rivals. “The manager said we will need to prepare properly which we will do. “We have a rest day on Monday but starting on Tuesday we will look to build up to the game. “I am sure they will be the same as I saw Neil (McCann) was disappointed with the Dundee performance against Buckie. “He will be at them to make sure they are right up for the game against us as it is massive for them as well. “It will be good to be involved in a big derby like that for the first time and I am really looking forward to it.” Scobbie and the rest of the United players will arrive at Dens in confident frame of mind with Sunday’s 4-1 win over Cowdenbeath at Tannadice making it three wins out of three so far in the Betfred Cup. He said: “It was a good win and it keeps the momentum going. “The manager has been speaking about that since I came in that these games weren’t just warm-ups. “The season started from the first game and we need to keep progressing and winning matches as we have been doing. “So it was a positive result against Cowdenbeath but we are just disappointed with the slack goal we gave away. “It is something we have been trying to implement into our mentality that we do not concede goals so we will sit down, look at it, see if we could have done better and take that into Sunday.” Scobbie added: “I think the performances have been good. “The manager shuffled things about a little bit against Cowdenbeath. “Some boys have picked up knocks but the lads who have come in have done fantastically well. “Matty Smith up top did brilliantly. “But everybody can take plaudits for the three wins as they were difficult games especially so early on in the season. “But they have been good for us.”
Paul McGowan insists that although Dundee were beaten at Ibrox on Saturday, their overall performance shows just how far Paul Hartley’ side have come in the last few weeks. The Dark Blues travelled to Ibrox in determined frame of mind, buoyed by the last two wins against Hamilton and Motherwell, games in which they had also kept clean sheets. They frustrated the life out of Rangers and looked certain to secure a potentially-priceless point but were undone at the death thanks to a Harry Forrester goal deep into stoppage time. The defeat combined with results elsewhere, sent Dundee back to the bottom of the Premiership table but McGowan defiantly insists that if the team can produce more performances of the quality shown at Ibrox, then they will soon be climbing the table. He said: “Definitely. I fully back the players and the manager. The last couple of weeks we have been brilliant. “Maybe not as pretty, but we look solid. Two clean sheets, 2-0 and 1-0, then you come here and hold on for 90 minutes without Rangers really opening us up. “They had a few crosses in, a few long shots, but they never really carved us open and made any chances. It’s just disappointing. “We felt we dealt with the crosses. The one we didn’t deal with, he has put a great header on. It was a good finish.” Prior to the Hamilton game, Dundee had lost six straight matches in a row. When asked what has been the difference in the last few weeks, McGowan said: “I just think the togetherness. We had it, but our confidence was zapped. I don’t know why. When you start losing games, it becomes a bad habit. “When you keep losing and losing, you start thinking, ‘Where is this next win going to come from?’ We got together. “We didn’t become a bad team overnight. We just started from the basics, working hard, getting clean sheets. “Big Marcus (Haber) has come in. Craig (Wighton) has started showing his ability. I’m sure we will get out of this situation. “If anyone saw us in the last two weeks, it was the exact same performance that we put in. “We’ve got to take some positives out of the game, but we’re disappointed. To come to Ibrox and be disappointed shows how far we have come since the start of the season." Rangers dominated the opening proceedings and manufactured a great chance in the ninth minute when Josh Windass played in Joe Garner who pulled his shot just past Scott Bain’s right-hand post. Rangers were in full control of the game, bossing possession with the Dark Blues – playing in pink – struggling to get out of their own half. Home goalie Wes Foderingham finally had a save to make in the 25th minute when he had to dive to his right to keep out a dangerous 30-yard Tom Hateley free-kick. The same Dundee player took the resulting corner and he found Haber in space at the far post but the big striker seemed to be caught in two minds and produced a tame header that was easily dealt with. The second half followed a similar pattern to the first with Mark Warburton’s men well on top but struggling to find a way past the dogged Dark Blues. Hartley’s men were hanging in there and had an opportunity of their own in the 67th minute when Hateley whipped in a free-kick from the left edge of the Rangers box with Foderingham pulling off a fantastic fingertip save to deny him. Dundee then had another great chance when Haber sent a low cutback in from the right with James Vincent looking certain to have a tap-in but Rangers’ Jason Holt raced back to make a vital last-ditch interception. Bain then came to his side’s rescue with a superb diving stop from a Holt shot. Rangers continued to huff and puff but it seemed certain they would find no way through as the clock ticked down but then in the third minute of added-on time, Joe Dodoo put a cross in from the left to fellow sub Harry Forrester who sent a glancing, backwards header past Bain to break Dundee hearts.
Dundee United boss Ray McKinnon insists that another short trip up the road to Dens holds no fear for him or his players. The Tangerines topped the Group C table following yesterday’s win on penalties at the same venue with the old foes promptly drawn out of the hat to face one another once more. And McKinnon is hopeful that his side will be even stronger when they lock horns with the Dark Blues again. He said: “I’m really pleased. We played some really good football. “We went in without a recognised striker. “We had to dig in for parts of the game so it was a really good performance and we are delighted to win the group. “It was exciting football for the fans and we get to do it all again now. I’d rather it was at Tannadice but there’s nothing to fear coming here. “Dundee are a good side but we’ve shown we can go out and play. “We were missing James Keatings, Scotty (Scott McDonald) will have another two weeks of training under him. “Willo Flood has only played 60 minutes with the kids. “We’ll get these players back fit and we’ll be a stronger squad coming into it hopefully.” United only missed one of their five penalties in the shoot-out but McKinnon admitted they had not practised them in the lead up to the cup tie. He added: “We didn’t practise penalties. We spoke to them about penalties but we just told them to go and do it on the day. “They can all take a penalty and we wanted to think about winning the game. “We made up the list of who would take them because you have to see who wants to take pens at that point. “But all of them stood up to say they’d take them which was positive.” McKinnon’s opposite number Neil McCann had been in bullish mood before the derby, insisting that his players should embrace their favourite’s tag and go out onto the pitch “with a swagger” against a side from the Championship. However, the United boss insisted he had paid no heed to his counterpart’s comments. He said: “I don’t pay attention to what is said. People asked me but it’s about what we do. “I told my players, we concentrate on how we want to play and don’t get entangled in what others are saying. “That’s always been my motto.” McKinnon has been carefully adding to his squad all summer and he revealed his signing business is not over just yet. He said: “We get the recruitment right and we’re heading in right direction. “I’d still like a midfielder and we’re working on that right now. “If we do that we’ve got a chance but we need to be up for it. “We’re really new. We have nine new players in and they’ve just been thrown together. “We’ll hopefully get better in the coming weeks when we get everyone back fit.”
Dundee goalie Calum Ferrie admitted he fully understood his manager’s anger and frustration after the Dark Blues were beaten by Partick Thistle on Saturday. However, the 19-year-old was determined to put the disappointment behind him and look to what he hopes is a promising future for himself and the club. Dens boss Neil McCann did not hold back in his assessment of his players’ performance as they lost to a Jags side desperate for a result to avoid automatic relegation, accusing the team of “short-changing” the fans. Ferrie, who had been handed his first start for Dundee against Partick, was unable to prevent the opposition prevailing thanks to a solitary Kris Doolan goal. The keeper was desperately disappointed he could not celebrate his big day with a clean sheet with the defeat sparking his manager’s reaction after the final whistle. The keeper said: “It is just football. You win games, you lose games . . . the manager is happy or upset. “Everywhere you play it’s the same whether from Sunday League up to Champions League. “It is just something in football and rightly so because it wasn’t the greatest performance overall. “At the end of the day, I just did my job but conceded a goal. “I am very annoyed not to have been able to keep a clean sheet because that’s what goalies live off. “We hate conceding goals and I will probably have a nightmare about that one. “But we move on and try to focus on next season now and go as high as we can.” After securing their safety in Dingwall last Tuesday, all the pressure was off Dundee before the Partick game but McCann was not willing to accept any excuses. He said: "I am not agitated. I am angry. It is unacceptable. "I am just not putting up with that. We are trying to set standards at the club. "You don't get handed results in this league, never mind a side who are fighting for their lives. That is short-changing the fans.” Meanwhile, former Dundee boss and current Rangers scout John Brown was at Dens on Saturday and it is understood he was keeping tabs on Dark Blues midfielder Glen Kamara.
Raith boss Ray McKinnon says he will have no hesitation playing James Craigen against Falkirk tomorrow night – despite the fact the player has signed a pre-contract with the Bairns for next season. The 25-year-old former Partick Thistle midfielder signed a deal with Peter Houston’s side at the start of March. Now though he is set to face Falkirk at Stark’s Park this evening, in the second last league game of the season, and there is every chance that Raith could then meet the same opposition in the Premiership play-offs. Craigen would naturally like to be playing his football in the top tier next season but McKinnon insists he has absolutely no fears that the player will have divided loyalties and will continue to give everything for the Rovers cause. The manager said: "James has done well. We had a good chat with him and told him we trusted him to be a good professional – and he's proved that. "Let's see how he is on Saturday against Falkirk – this will be a trial run for him! "He's done great this season and scored nine goals for us, which we're delighted with. "We spoke to him specifically about coming up against Falkirk because it's going to be either Falkirk or Hibs in the play-offs. "I said I trust him to go out and give everything and he was the same. "His reputation is on the line as well. If he downs tools and anybody asks me about him I would tell them he had downed tools. "But he's not. He's a good kid, he works hard, he's done well and a lot of credit goes to him for that. "I would know within 10 minutes if he wasn't playing the way we wanted him to play, and we've spoken about that. McKinnon added: "He'd be embarrassed if I played him and we took him off after 15 minutes. That's what he's got to think about. "But I wouldn't have a problem playing James, whatsoever. "I think James will give everything for us, whether it's against Falkirk or Hibs, because he's got his reputation to think about. "He's been a model pro for us. He's a fit boy, he's scored nine goals and had a great season, and he wants to go out on a high. "We did have a chat with him and the scenarios were out there for him. "But also the trust was there, because I told him I trusted him. "And he's actually done really well since the news broke. "We haven't had an issue with him or any issues with him going out there and not playing well. "He's a good kid and a good professional, so I've no worries.” Raith have so far failed to beat Falkirk in three league games this season, drawing once and losing narrowly in the other two matches. However, McKinnon insists his side are in the driving seat going into tomorrow’s game and then the play-offs. He added: "To be honest, if we beat them in the play-offs that's all that is important. "But in every game I think they've been fortunate to beat us, very, very fortunate. "But going into this game with a full squad, I think we're in the driving seat, to be honest. "They've got injuries and we're getting boys back. "Saturday's result is unimportant to me. It's about the performance. "I'll mix my team up and, whether that's the same side that plays against them in the play-offs or not, I could probably tell you their team going into the play-offs. "I don't think they could tell you our team. That's my secret going into the play-offs.” Meanwhile, McKinnon revealed the club have not broached the subject of him extending his contract. When he joined Rovers last summer it was on a two-year deal. Considering the job McKinnon has done so far on a shoestring budget, it would be astonishing if he had not popped up on other clubs’ radar. However, the manager said: "The club haven't spoken to me about a new contract.”