Ross Docherty is adamant Dundee United will not “overreact” to their successive cup exits at the hands of League One opposition.
A superb four-month, 17-match unbeaten run was blown away as Falkirk battered the off-colour Tangerines 4-2 in the SPFL Trust Trophy 11 days ago – with Docherty, who was absent that night, calling the showing “a blip”.
And United crashed out of the Scottish Cup on Saturday, with Queen of the South emerging victorious on penalties following an engrossing 2-2 draw at Palmerston Park.
The performance was incomparable to the meek display against the Bairns, with United registering 35 shots in Dumfries – only to pay the price for wasteful finishing and sleepy defending.
Having conceded six goals in 17 fixtures prior to visiting Falkirk, the Terrors have now shipped six in their last two matches: both against third tier opposition.
“We put the Falkirk game down to a bit of a blip, without taking anything away from them,” Docherty told Courier Sport. “On Saturday, Queen of the South didn’t carve us open, and we didn’t look defensively shaky.
“It’s easy to overreact. We know it’s two games in a row where the results haven’t been good enough but, if you look back over the course of the season, we had a long run of clean sheets and have barely conceded goals.
“We’ll always look within and try to improve, but we’re not saying that it’s a defensive crisis or anything like that.
“I didn’t think the performance was bad on Saturday. We just didn’t take our chances and we were slack in terms of giving away possession. We can only move on from it and put things right next week.”
Not good enough
Docherty was typically honest as he assessed his own return to the United side following three weeks on the sidelines with a groin strain, delivering a mea culpa after surrendering possession in the build-up to both Queens goals.
However, both could have been defended much more stoutly after Docherty lost the ball. Gavin Reilly’s header came from a simple corner, while Liam Grimshaw was beaten too easily on the wing before Lee Connelly’s strike.
“It was myself that gave away possession in the lead-up to their goals so I will take the blame for that,” continued Docherty. “I’ll take my share of the responsibility.
“We’ve got to do better in terms of defending, too. When you play a team from the division below, they are waiting for you to give the ball away for a half-chance.”
He added: “We are hugely disappointed, and we wanted to go far in the Scottish Cup. We know the result wasn’t good enough for this club.”
Fit for the long haul
For all the Tangerines are fresh from a galling eight days of cup football, they remain unbeaten in the Championship and four points above in-form Raith Rovers at the summit of the second tier.
Docherty will hope for a better afternoon – personally and collectively – when United travel to face Morton on Saturday, as he eyes a concerted run in the first-team.
The 30-year-old has endured maddening, niggling issues with both hamstrings and his groin in recent months. However, a plan is in place to make sure he is available for the long haul.
“I don’t know about “nice to be back” – my main feeling was frustration because of how the game panned out,” smiled Docherty, ruefully. “But it’s good to be back on a pitch and I felt fine.
“I could have played better, which is disappointing, but it’s a positive to get a game under my belt and hopefully I can stay fit now.
“It was very frustrating to have three different niggles – and that’s all they were, a couple of weeks at a time – but we (Docherty and United’s medical staff) have worked together to come up with the best way to keep me fit.
“The boys have been brilliant in my absence in the main, and now it’s just about getting involved and helping the team, however I can.”