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4 Dundee United talking points: Viaplay Cup misery for Jim Goodwin as Harry Milne seals Partick Thistle win

Milne completed a fine turnaround for the visitors

Harry Milne after scoring the winning goal for Partick Thistle against Dundee United
Partick Thistle are the last team to beat United - a 2-1 win in July. Image: SNS

Dundee United’s miserable start to the season continued as they effectively exited the Viaplay Cup following a 2-1 defeat against Partick Thistle.

Seeking to bounce back from a shock reverse against League Two Spartans on Saturday, Craig Sibbald opened the scoring following a neat exchange with Declan Glass.

However, ex-United man Brian Graham levelled before Harry Milne completed the turnaround after the break.

Brian Graham haunts former club

It was Sibbald who notched the opening goal of the game, displaying super tenacity to rob Aaron Moorhead deep in the Thistle half. The combative midfielder then hared into the box to convert a cut-back by Declan Glass.

Craig Sibbald celebrates his opening goal against Partick Thistle.
Craig Sibbald celebrates his opener. Image SNS

But rather than build on their advantage, the Terrors saw Graham — who scored seven goals in 37 appearances for United in 2013/14 — torment his erstwhile employers.

He fired over the bar from point-blank range after latching on to a Ben Williamson flick, before whipping a ferocious shot narrowly wide of Jack Walton’s post from the edge of the box.

Graham bagged a merited leveller when he played a slick one-two with Williamson before smashing a low finish past Walton. A very tidy move; but too easy, from a Terrors’ perspective.

The veteran marksman also won headers, drew fouls and ensured young Ollie Denham had a miserable  night under the Tannadice lights before being replaced by Ross Graham.

Walton was forced into a super save from a Muirhead free-kick after Denham was adjudged to have hauled down Graham on the edge of the box, earning the Welshman a booking.

Louis Moult is pitched straight into action

United fans were afforded a welcome boost prior to kick-off when the Tangerines announced the arrival of Louis Moult. 

And the 31-year-old was pitched straight into action, entering the fray as a second-half substitute for Watt.

Louis Moult is pictured on his return to Scottish football.
Moult, pictured, returned to Scottish football. Image: SNS

He stung the palms of David Mitchell from distance following a surging run by Kai Fotheringham and almost met a low cross from the same man.

He will have more effective outings — and Goodwin will hope he is afforded plenty more service — in future, but getting minutes in the legs of their new No.9 is a minor positive from miserable night for Arabs.

United’s defensive frailties as pays off for Milne

Thistle’s marauding full-back Milne was denied from close-range by a sprawling Walton save after meeting a Graham flick.

However, he would not be thwarted on the hour-mark when he headed home a deep delivery from the dangerous Stevie Lawless. 

Once again, the defending left plenty to be desired, with the Jags more aggressive and imposing in the danger zone — and United skipper Ross Docherty seemingly left to mark two Thistle players.

And with Thistle able to defend their lead and pounce on the break, Walton — who looks a fine capture — made another plunging near-post stop to deny James Lyon.

Focus turns to the Championship

Glenn Middleton came closest to taking the contest to penalties, whipping a fine free-kick inches past the post.

But, akin to Ainslie Park on Saturday, United left the field to the sound of jeers. This result effectively ends their participation in this competition and does nothing to build any sense of a positivity following the travails of last term.

Ben Williamson in action at Tannadice, Dundee.
Former Dee Ben Williamson snaps into a challenge. Image: SNS

Since the format change in 2016/17, no club has ever progressed from the group phase with less than eight points.

As such, United’s remaining games will be exercises in preparation for the upcoming Championship charge — and on this evidence, there is much work to be done.