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3 Dundee United talking points: The academy connection that offers real hope amid last-minute Celtic heartbreak

Liel Abada's last minute winner for Celtic left Celtic dejected
Liel Abada's last minute winner for Celtic left Celtic dejected

Dundee United were close to clinching their second draw of the season at Celtic Park when the ten-men Glasgow giants broke their hearts.

One piece of trickery from Celtic star Jota and one defensive lapse allowed Liel Abada to nick in and net a 90th minute strike.

It was a gut-wrenching ending to what had been an excellent afternoon’s work from Dundee United’s youthful team.

And while United ultimately left Celtic empty-handed, it’s the third time this year they’ve made an impact in Glasgow.

Courier Sport was at Celtic Park to watch the game and here are three things we learned:

Dundee United youngsters shine in Glasgow

With absence and injury hampering United’s team selection, boss Tam Courts once again showed incredible faith in youth.

He has now given first team experience to no fewer than 12 Dundee United academy graduates this term.

In September, Courts pitched 16-year-old Kerr Smith into the cauldron of Celtic Park.

Four months on, Smith earned a dream move to English Premier League giants Aston Villa.

And on Saturday, United featured five players under the age of 21.

Teenagers Archie Meekison and Lewis Neilson started alongside Manchester United loanee Dylan Levitt, 21.

At 20, Ross Graham made his debut from the bench and he was joined by fellow sub Declan Glass.

All five players can hold their head high for turning in highly-impressive displays.

Archie Meekison impressed for Dundee United at Celtic Park

Calum Butcher leads by example

It’s been a fantastic week for Calum Butcher.

Butcher ended 2021 on the fringes of the United side after a mixture of injury and five games out through suspension left him side lined.

And the last time he faced Celtic, his late challenge on David Turnbull led to a trial-by-media and a retrospective two-game ban.

But Butcher has vowed not to change his game.

Calum Butcher has was outstanding for Dundee United at Celtic

And neither he should as Butcher adds real bite to this United side.

He’s also proving to be a very capable central defender in the absence of the injured Charlie Mulgrew.

Butcher coped superbly well with the threat of Giorgos Giakoumakis.

And behind Benjamin Siegrist, he was United’s best player.

Ghanaian wonderkid Mathew Cudjoe Anim set to make Dundee United impact

Mathew Cudjoe Anim is ready to make an impact at Dundee United

The sight of Ghana youngster Mathew Cudjoe Anim on the United bench will excite the Dundee United fans enormously.

The highly-rated Ghana under-20 star was much heralded after his arrival in November.

Boss Tam Courts initially played down his signing, saying Cudjoe would join the academy squad.

But he has been promoted to the first team in recent weeks and has international clearance to feature for United.

Cudjoe didn’t take face Celtic but it can’t be long before we see him starring for the Tannadice side.

Tam Courts hails Dundee United young guns as he rues late heartbreak at Celtic Park

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