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Dundee United’s trip to Shrewsbury deemed a ‘worthwhile exercise’

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The score may suggest otherwise and it is, and should always be, the case that any game that ends in defeat comes with some sense of disappointment.

However, Dundee United’s trip to Shrewsbury Town on Saturday for one final warm-up game before the Championship kicks off this weekend was deemed a worthwhile exercise – and rightly so.

Yes, the Tangerines did go down 2-1 to the physically powerful League One outfit at their impressive Montgomery Waters Meadow home.

And the starting line-up used by Robbie Neilson for this friendly will bear little resemblance to the one he uses when Inverness Caley Thistle visit Tannadice on Saturday.

At a push you would guess only three of the United men on the pitch at kick-off, Calum Butcher, Ian Harkes and Jamie Robson, will be in the side for that league opener.

If the manager felt he had to gamble to try to get three points this weekend, 17-year-old Scott Banks could be added to that list because he was, again, very impressive in attack.

But with the size, quality and experience of the squad at his disposal, Robbie Neilson does not have to do that – certainly not this early on – so young Banks will almost certainly be on the bench.

Either way, that the starting team against the Shrews was so different to the usual one, meant the main objective of taking on this friendly was achieved.

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Louis Appere slots home the Terrors’ penalty opener.

Since it was announced Neilson had said it would mainly be about getting minutes into legs for players who had not been involved for much of the Betfred Cup.

The likes of Cammy Smith, who played well, Freddy Frans and Deniz Mehmet got them and it means as many of the squad as possible are as close to full match fitness as they could be at this stage of the year.

As United used 20 players in all, by the end of Saturday, most of the men who will make up the eleven this weekend were on the pitch and that was another plus.

Not just because it was a shock result that led to their Betfred exit, but after last Tuesday’s defeat at the hands of East Fife it was important they got another run out.

Eleven days between games going into a league opener would not have been ideal and the half hour they got did them good.

Particularly as this was by far the most testing, physically and in terms of quality, of the friendlies this summer.

Although they spent most of last season fighting to avoid relegation, Shrewsbury looked a decent side. As they build up to their own league business starting, they were looking to keep play at a high tempo.

That made for an open and entertaining game, as did the constant noise coming from the away end of the ground that was housing just over 400 travelling fans.

The action got off to an explosive start and after just six minutes Louis Appere was brought down by home goalie Max O’Leary and picked himself up to confidently convert the penalty.

As well as Banks, incidentally, 20-year-old Appere did his chances of involvement in the coming months no harm with another impressive display and the same went for 19-year-old Logan Chalmers, who also started.

Unfortunately for Appere in this one, within two minutes the lead was cancelled out by a spot-kick at the other end, just as expertly put away by Fejiri Okenabirhie.

And it was the same player who would head home to give the his team victory in the second half.

They just about deserved it, though subs Nicky Clark and Lawrence Shankland both went close to levelling in the dying minutes.

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