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Past Times

Dundee United and Motherwell served up Scottish Cup classic in 1994

Dundee United and Motherwell served up a Scottish Cup classic in February 1994.
Graeme Strachan
Craig Brewster scores a sensational second goal for United. Image: DC Thomson.
Craig Brewster scores a sensational second goal for United. Image: DC Thomson.

When Dundee United and Motherwell faced each other in the Scottish Cup fourth round 30 years ago it produced a Tannadice thriller.

The repeat of the classic 1991 final was a game which had everything.

Ivan Golac was in charge of United after Jim McLean decided to swap his manager’s chair for the chairman’s seat on a full-time basis in May 1993.

Only the Scottish Cup remained elusive to McLean during his 22-year managerial reign, despite the fact that the club contested six finals during that period.

The Tannadice team’s march to Scottish Cup glory in 1994 started at Arbroath.

A wonder strike from Craig Brewster – more of him later – was the highlight of a tough game for United, who eventually ran out 3-2 winners before a crowd of 6,000.

Up next were old foes Motherwell.

McLean’s brother Tommy was in the opposing dugout when the Steelmen pitched up at Tannadice for the all-Premier League fourth round tie on February 19 1994.

Motherwell had just ousted Celtic from the tournament.

Once again Brewster was the one to watch.

A bumper crowd watched the game

The tie drew a Tannadice crowd of 12,023 and even the hardest to please among them must have felt the entertainment served up represented excellent value for money.

In an all-action afternoon there was rarely a dull moment.

This was a cup-tie of the highest calibre.

What it lacked in finesse it certainly made up for in excitement.

Rab Shannon clears the effort from Paddy Connolly off the line. Image: DC Thomson.

United created the better of the opening exchanges and Rab Shannon cleared a shot by Paddy Connolly off the line on 26 minutes with Sieb Dijkstra beaten.

Motherwell took the lead on 31 minutes when United goalkeeper Guido van de Kamp blundered badly in letting a Brian Martin cross slip from his grasp.

Steve Kirk, who scored the winner for Motherwell in the 1991 final, bundled the loose ball home at the second attempt after Brian Welsh had blocked his initial effort.

Motherwell players celebrate after Steve Kirk opens the scoring. Image: DC Thomson.

The status quo was restored before the break thanks to the determination of Jim Mclnally who burst down the left and delivered a low cross to the near post.

Brewster stole in between Chris McCart and Miodrag Krivokapic to blast home from close range into the roof of the net with Dijkstra stood rooted to his line.

United went ahead on 55 minutes.

A sensational move involving Maurice Malpas, Christian Dailly, Paddy Connolly and Brewster ended with the striker scoring his second high-class goal of the day.

Brewster took the ball on his chest, let it bounce then rifled home a strike right in front of the Shed end to make it 2-1 following a series of one pass moves.

Craig Brewster is congratulated after scoring his second goal. Image: DC Thomson.

BBC commentator Jock Brown described the goal as a “moment of magic” from the “outstanding attacker of the afternoon” on the Sportscene highlights.

The goal is still talked about 30 years on.

Last-gasp leveller was a sucker punch

Motherwell should have levelled from the spot 17 minutes from time when Freddy van der Hoorn brought Paul McGrillen down as the substitute shaped to score.

Van de Kamp flung himself to his right to save Coyne’s effort and must have reckoned he was going to have the last laugh following his mistake for the opening goal.

However, United came undone at the death.

A controversial injury-time equaliser from John Philliben secured a 2-2 draw.

Van de Kamp was knocked to the ground by Martin as he tried to punch away Rob McKinnon’s free-kick and Philliben found sufficient space to drill the ball home.

United’s appeals for a foul were waved away by the referee and Motherwell ended the day favourites to go through in the replay and face Airdrie in the next round.

The cup-tie was a classic which is considered one of the best games of the tournament. Image: DC Thomson.

United were entitled to consider themselves hard done by over the last-gasp leveller although it should hardly have come as a surprise to the home fans.

United had drawn games nine times after being in the lead at some stage.

Seven of those games were in the league and had they all been won, leaders Rangers would have been just two points ahead of Ivan Golac’s men in February 1994.

“Every time we take the lead you think it can’t happen again, but we just keep shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Jim McInally.

“They put us under a lot of pressure right at the end, but it is the cup and you expect teams to take risks when they are down late on.

“It is up to us to do our jobs and cope with it.

“It was at least 20 minutes after the game before it sunk in that we were still in the cup.

“We threw the win away and we know it.”

Craig Brewster won the man-of-the-match award for his performance. Image: DC Thomson.

Brewster won the man-of-the-match award but cut a dejected figure at full-time.

“That is one of the biggest disappointments I have ever suffered in football,” he said.

“When Guido van de Kamp saved Tommy Coyne’s penalty at 2-1, I thought ‘this is going to be our year’ – but it was a case of so near and yet so far.

“Now we’ve got it all to do again.”

Golac was gone in 10 seconds

Golac didn’t mince his words.

“The way we conceded the goals was a Mickey Mouse job,” he said.

“The simple message is we’ve got to win the replay.”

He swept in and out of the after-match press conference in 10 seconds.

Ivan Golac and his United team which would make history. Image: DC Thomson.

Motherwell manager Tommy McLean saw things more positively.

“That was a great game for the fans and credit to both sets of players for producing a match which was played in the right spirit and which contained the kind of passion Scottish football should be about,” he said.

So it was on to Fir Park for the replay on March 1, with over 13,000 in attendance.

A rare Brian Welsh goal with 67 minutes on the clock saw United secure a place in the last eight of the tournament for the first time since 1991.

This victory was achieved thanks to a very disciplined display and no-one shone brighter in the United ranks than veteran defender Dave Narey.

By now belief was beginning to spread through the support that this could be their year.

Their forecast was correct.