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4 Dundee United talking points: A ‘remember the name’ afternoon against Rangers for Tam Courts’ Covid-hit side

Dundee United's kids did themselves proud at Ibrox
Dundee United's kids did themselves proud at Ibrox

Dundee United failed to leave Ibrox with a share of the spoils.

However, Tam Courts’ depleted outfit departed with ample credit following a gutsy 1-0 defeat against Rangers.

With United decimated by five positive Covid cases and several key injuries, they took the Scottish champions to the limit.

A James Tavernier penalty was all that separated the teams, with 18-year-old Darren Watson even striking the bar for the visitors after 93 minutes.

And Courier Sport was in Glasgow to analyse the action.

Moore the merrier

Sixteen years and 88 days.

That is how old Arbroath-born Craig Moore was as he took to the field at the home of the champions.

If a sense of perspective is required, Football Manager 2022 researcher Stuart Milne outlined the reason the teenager was not in the smash-hit game this year.

Moore would be 15 at the start of a virtual SPFL campaign — still a child — so would require the express permission of a guardian to be in the database.

Yet, this gifted young midfielder was not overawed at Ibrox.

Playing against the likes of Glen Kamara, Scott Arfield and John Lundstrum, the Scotland under-17 internationalist snapped into challenges and illustrated composure on the ball.

Moore’s passing accuracy of 85 per cent (Opta) was higher than any other Dundee United player in the starting line-up.

It is testament to Moore’s performance that he was missed when a calf knock ended his afternoon prematurely, with Rangers subsequently claiming the lead.

To pinch a phrase from Martin Tyler’s breathless commentary of Wayne Rooney’s wonder-goal against Arsenal at the same age: ‘Remember the name’.

Experienced heads

Casting aside Charlie Mulgrew and Trevor Carson, the average age of the Dundee United side which started at Ibrox was a staggering 22.3.

And while the Tannadice kids merit all the praise coming their way, Courts was keen to laud his experienced campaigners.

Excellent: Edwards

It is easy to see why.

Mulgrew and Ryan Edwards, in particular, were vocal and encouraging at the back, constantly talking to the likes of Watson, Moore and Archie Meekison.

Allied with their inimitable personalities — and put Trevor Carson in that bracket, too — they performed superbly, repelling Rangers attacks all afternoon.

That backbone gave United’s kid the platform and confidence to perform.

Steady Trevor

With Benjamin Siegrist among United’s absentees, it once again fell upon Carson to deputise; his fifth appearance of the campaign.

And he produced a super finger-tip save to deny Alfredo Morelos on the stroke of half-time.

The Northern Ireland internationalist then stuck out a leg to block a goal-bound Scott Wright effort after the break.

Key saves: Carson

Big saves that, but for the spot-kick, could have secured United a point.

Who knows what will happen in January? Siegrist continues to be among the Tannadice club’s prize assets and is out of contract in the summer.

Should the Swiss stopper depart, the sight of Carson waiting in the wings is a welcome one for all of a Tangerine persuasion.

Moment of madness

An Ianis Hagi screamer; an instinctive Alfredo Morelos strike; James Tavernier bending in a free-kick from 25 yards — all would have been easier to take.

But to lose the game to an eminently avoidable penalty was galling for the travelling punters.

Tavernier settles the game

Scott McMann, solid all afternoon for the visitors, will rue one errant moment.

Only he will know why he stuck his arm out to block Tavernier’s cross with 20 minutes left on the clock; a brief, costly error on an afternoon of laudable organisation and stubbornness.

It was a cast-iron spot-kick.

Nevertheless, McMann has been a fine signing for United — his reliability and versatility shining through — and he will undoubtedly bounce back.

Tam Courts praises Tannadice teens following Rangers defeat as Dundee United boss reveals Covid returns timeline

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