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4 Dundee United talking points as Tangerines go from ‘shadow boxing’ to knock-out blow

Dundee United delirium
Dundee United delirium

Dundee United claimed their first away win in the Premiership since October 16 in dramatic fashion.

Marc McNulty headed home a richly-merited 96-minute winner against St Mirren, sparking scenes of delirium among the travelling Tangerine army.

The triumph sees United soar into fourth spot, bolstering their top-six aspirations.

Now two points ahead of fifth-placed Hibs, the prospect of a European push is a realistic one.

And Courier Sport was at the SMISA Stadium to analyse the action.

Dundee United’s find their attacking flow

Tam Courts stated that there was ‘no point shadow boxing’.

With a fraught fight for a top-six berth going down to the wire, it was time to go all-out for three points.

Following a forgettable first half, United delivered on that promise after the break. In some style.

The visitors struck the cross-bar three times, while their five shots on target equalled their best tally of 2022.

Delight: Courts

United’s xG (expected goals) was 1.97.

That is their highest out-with January’s 2-1 triumph against Ross County (2.99), which is inflated due to the fact Courts’ men were awarded a penalty in that game.

For those in attendance, United’s improvement compared to recent weeks was patently obvious; the tempo, the movement, the amount of bodies piling into the box.

But, even beyond ‘the eye test’, the underlining numbers prove it was an exceedingly heartening display.

Those Tangerine Scenes

Dundee United’s travelling fans earned that moment.

Prior to Saturday’s trip to St Mirren, the Tannadice outfit had won two league games in 15 attempts on the road.

They had scored just three goals in their previous six away games.

Courts’ side certainly haven’t been abject on opposition soil. They have often been solid and resolute, with a penchant for a draw.

It has felt like football with the handbrake applied, on occasion.

Yet, the punters continue to follow in their droves, creating a wall of Tangerine and a cacophony of noise.

And when McNulty pounced, it was a moment of wild celebration and catharsis; a cure for their travel sickness.

With just seven Premiership games left, that breathless finale may have imbued United and their supporters with a sense of belief and positivity — particularly away from Tannadice — that could prove invaluable during the run-in.

Dylan Levitt adds to his highlight real

Dylan Levitt is close to populating his very own Dundee United goal of the season competition.

The Wales international appears to only score screamers.

His efforts against Kilmarnock, Motherwell and, on Saturday, St Mirren were of the highest calibre, displaying technique, precision and power.

And Levitt’s leveller in Paisley was a fitting reward for another wonderful performance by the on-loan Manchester United playmaker.

Opta stats reveal that no-one created more final third entries (eight), crafted more chances (two), had more touches (53) or made more passes (42). Levitt was quite simply, once again, United’s most important player.

He makes them tick.

A vital international break

Even in light of a crucial victory, this international break is coming at a good time.

Tony Watt played through the pain barrier, Charlie Mulgrew completed 90 minutes despite only just returning from injury. Ian Harkes was a notable absentee.

United have been largely reliant on around 13 fit, experienced professionals in recent months, alongside youngsters such as Ross Graham, Kieran Freeman and Archie Meekison seeking to make their mark.

Miller Thomson made his first start, aged 17

They are not due — nor will they ask for — any sympathy over that. A strategic decision to run with a tight, capable squad of senior professionals, supplemented by academy graduates, was made at the start of the season.

Nevertheless, wear and tear is a natural consequence of that.

The next fortnight will give a swathe of stars the opportunity to rest, recuperate and ensure they are reinvigorated for a blockbuster trip to Easter Road on April 2.

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