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Dundee United v Ross County: Key moments, star men and player ratings as Jordan White runs riot to send Tangerines bottom

White notched a hat-trick to send United deep into the relegation mire

White makes it 2-1. Image: SNS
White makes it 2-1. Image: SNS

Dundee United crashed to the foot of the Premiership as Jordan White ran riot with a hat-trick at Tannadice.

The Highlanders emerged as 3-1 winners, with Jamie McGrath’s penalty kick rendered moot by White’s treble.

On a day when United saluted heroes from the Scottish Cup win in 2010 and the Premier Division champions of 1983, this was a stark juxtaposition.

Indeed, as the 40th anniversary of that iconic top-flight triumph falls on Sunday, the Terrors find themselves two points behind County and three adrift of Kilmarnock, who beat Livingston.

There are just nine points left to play for.

Key moments

There was an atmosphere of spectacle and celebration ahead of kick-off.Β 

Conway takes the acclaim of United fans. Image: SNS

The United display team unveiled a tifo in honour of the 1983 Premier Division winning side.Β 

Scottish Cup winners Danny Swanson and Craig Conway, who were part of the side that dispatched County in the 2010 final, took the acclaim of the crowd.

And then County took the lead after 38 seconds.Β 

A George Harmon corner found Jack Baldwin at back post. He headed across the face of goal for White to nod home from a yard.

United’s response to a nightmare start was admirable.

Loick Ayina, excellent throughout, fired narrowly over the bar following a mazy dribble into the box β€” one of several fearless bursts forward by the on-loan Huddersfield youngster.

Steven Fletcher then saw a goal-bound drive blocked as County defended resolutely.

However, the Tangerines claimed a merited leveller when an Aziz Behich delivery struck the outstretched arm of Josh Sims. Following a trip to the VAR monitor, John Beaton pointed to the spot.

White, left, and Murray celebrate. Image: SNS

And, just like against Hibernian and Motherwell, McGrath was peerless from 18 yards, sending Ross Laidlaw the wrong way.

Craig Sibbald and Rory MacLeod both stung the palms of Laidlaw as the Terrors sought to complete the turnaround.

There was a heart-stopping moment early in the second period when Mark Birighitti slipped as he attempted to clear a Behich back-pass, but Victor Loturi was unable to round the Aussie.

Fletcher gets a shot away. Image: SNS

Birighitti then made a smart double stop to deny Sims.

With the contest lolling back and forth, Ilmari Niskanen flashed a header narrowly wide of the post.

County reclaimed the lead when Nohan Kenneh β€” mere minutes after coming on as a substitute β€” sclaffed a shot into the penalty area, finding White perfectly placed to clip a neat finish over Birighitti.

Laidlaw made a crucial block to deny a Fletcher effort before MacLeod fired the rebound wide.

And the visitors made the game safe when Simon Murray fizzed a fine delivery across the face of goal for White to make it 3-1; and secure ownership of the match ball.

Dundee United star man: Loick Ayina

Given licence to burst forward from the United back-three, Ayina was arguably the Tangerines’ most potent attacking threat.

He fired over the bar following a mazy run in the first period β€” one of several bursts into County territory β€” and showed laudable belief for a teenager in the midst of a relegation battle.

Ayina wasn’t blameless in a ragged United defensive display, but still emerged as the hosts’ stand-out performer.

 

Player ratings

Dundee United (3-5-2): Birighitti 6; Ayina 8, Edwards 5 (Middleton 75), McMann 5; Niskanen 6, Sibbald 6, Harkes 6 (Fotheringham 75), McGrath 6, Behich 6; Fletcher 7, MacLeod 7 (Cudjoe 75).

Subs not used: Newman, Graham, Djoum, Freeman, Thomson, O’Donnell.

Manager under the microscope

With Charlie Mulgrew suspended, Goodwin brought captain Edwards back into the starting line-up and switched back to a 3-5-2, with Ayina and McMann flanking the big Liverpudlian.

It did little to create security at the back.

Goodwin made a couple of big calls. Image: SNS

Goodwin also showed faith in MacLeod, handing the 17-year-old his first Premiership start of the season and was rewarded with a good display.

The Irishman will again be frustrated by persistent defensive frailties and time is swiftly running out to arrest that issue.

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