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Truth behind Dundee United boss Micky Mellon’s Benjamin Siegrist joke as keeper steals show against Hibs

Luke Bolton, left, after scoring his late leveller.
Luke Bolton, left, after scoring his late leveller.

Many a true word is spoken in jest.

Dundee United manager Micky Mellon knows that only too well and that is why his joke about goalkeeper Benji Siegrist and the upcoming transfer window should be taken seriously.

As he reflected upon the Tangerines’ dramatic 1-1 draw with Hibs at Easter Road on Saturday – earned largely by Siegrist’s fantastic performance between the posts – Mellon was asked if he was worried about losing the Swiss keeper to a big-money bid.

He replied: “We will turn the phones off and pretend we don’t have mobiles!”

Good luck with that…

Top drawer

Mellon then got serious, adding: “If you are going to come to places like Hibs and get something you have to have a good goalkeeper – and we have one.

“He is terrific – he is top drawer.

“It hasn’t happened overnight and he has worked his socks off for it but he wants to be the best version of himself he can be.

“We know we can rely on him to keep us in games and help get results.

Luke Bolton scores his equaliser. Pic: SNS.

“From a manager’s point of view I want him working less and know we have to work on things defensively.

“But to know you have a guy there who is able to make saves like he made is terrific.”

Scorer overshadowed

Such was the quality of Siegrist’s display that he managed to overshadow poor Luke Bolton.

Benji Siegrist during a rare quiet moment. Pic: SNS.

It is not often a player scores a terrific stoppage-time equaliser then has to step aside for a teammate when the post-match plaudits are being dished out.

Such was the Englishman’s fate on Saturday.

Siegrist’s saves were too numerous to list. The words would fall off the bottom of the page.

However, the standouts were the two double-stops.

The first saw him save an angled header from Christian Doidge and then be quick enough to stop the ball when it rebounded off United striker Lawrence Shankland and spun goalwards again.

Siegrist then reacted brilliantly to stop another teammate, United captain Mark Reynolds, scoring an own goal before once again thwarting Doidge.

Had there been fans in the ground, even the home supporters would have applauded the big man.

Siegrist said: “I am happy to help the team with my saves.

“Those are the kind of saves that keep the team in the game.

“The first one (double save) was a header and then it came off Shanks and rebounded back to goal. I just tried to take a swipe before anyone could follow up and the boys managed to clear it.

“The second was deflected (off Reynolds) and then Doidge managed to get something behind the second attempt but I saved it.

“It is never normal or a routine thing to do that.

“I train hard to make sure that I am prepared for every game and for situations like those.

Bolton celebrates. Pic: SNS.

“I definitely don’t take it for granted. I aim to do the best I can every week.”

The one that got away – Kyle Magennis’s goal for the Hibees on 13 minutes – was a bit of a fluke but, again, you can praise Siegrist for not letting that upset him.

He felt Christian Doidge got a touch on the Magennis cross that sneaked in at the far post but he was in the minority.

The goalie added: “I haven’t see it back yet but it was a right-footed cross and the aim was, if nobody touched it, to swing it in and get the ball to go in at the back stick, which kind of happened.

“But I felt that Doidge got a little nick on it. Fair play to them because it was a good cross.”

Rangers in reverse

United’s overall performance was like the one against Rangers in reverse.

Six days earlier against the Premiership leaders at Tannadice, United produced a fine first half performance then went into their defensive shell after the break.

Against Hibs, they were under the cosh for the first 45 minutes but opened up following the restart and had more of a go.

It was still a bit of a smash-and-grab when, a minute into time added on, Marc McNulty’s cross struck Hibs’ Joe Newell and ran through to Bolton at the back post. He swept it into the net to put United level on the 21-point mark with fifth-placed Motherwell.

United’s Liam Smith (right) is tackled by Kyle Magennis of Hibs. Pic: SNS.

While the lack of attacking ambition will still be concerning some United fans, you could argue that manager Mellon deserved credit for what is a fine result at one of Scotland’s trickiest venues.

Double substitution

He made a double substitution on 54 minutes that introduced Bolton and fellow forward Paul McMullan to the match.

Indeed, by the time of Bolton’s goal, United had these attack-minded players on the pitch: the goalscorer, McMullan, Peter Pawlett, Lawrence Shankland and McNulty.

The latter two are gradually get to know each other’s games and combined to send Shankland through for United’s only serious effort of the first half, an angled drive that was stopped by Hibs keeper Ofir Marciano.

You sit watching the Tangerines and wonder just when all that attacking talent is going to be unleashed on an unsuspecting team.

If it can happen against Kilmarnock on Wednesday and then Motherwell on Saturday – both at Tannadice – then that will be a very nice Christmas gift to their fans.