Dundee United travel to Livingston for what could be either a Friday fiesta or Friday fright night. Courier sports writer Ian Roache looks back on how they have fared recently when asked to kick-off the weekend early.
United 1 Hibs 0. Friday, December 6, 2016.
It all started so promisingly. Penalty king Cammy Bell helped swing this game United’s way when the keeper dived to save Martin Boyle’s spot-kick on 55 minutes. That cleared the way for Tony Andreu to covert from the spot for the Tangerines on 73 minutes after Simon Murray had been fouled. This thrilling victory, played in front of almost 11,000 fans at Tannadice, sent Ray McKinnon’s men level on points with Hibs at the top of the Championship.
Hibs 3 United 0. Friday, January 6, 2017.
It didn’t take too long for reality to strike. Just a calendar month after that superb success against the Hibees, United took a bad beating at Easter Road. The home team dominated from start to finish and two first-half goals from Jason Cummings were added to by a late strike from John McGinn, who was making his comeback from long-term injury. The loss meant United had fallen four points behind the Edinburgh side. They were still, however, 11 ahead of then fourth-placed Falkirk.
United 0 Hibs 1. Friday, March 10, 2017.
The two teams met again at Tannadice a couple of months later. United were up against it after Lewis Toshney was sent off with just over half-an-hour on the clock. Cummings, the thorn in United’s side in the previous meeting, fired home the only goal of the game for the visitors just minutes after Toshney’s red card. The Hibs striker then got himself ordered off with 15 minutes to go after punching the ball into the net but the Tangerines could not capitalise. This was seen as the night Neil Lennon’s men clinched the title as they moved 10 points clear of United, who now sat a point behind Falkirk in third place.
United 3 Morton 0. Friday May 12, 2017.
The Tangerines had lost second spot in the league to the Bairns so were forced to fight it out with Morton in the first stage of the promotion play-offs. They brought a 2-1 first-leg win back home from Cappielow to Tannadice. All the goals in this return clash came in the second half, with Simon Murray, the infamous Wato Kuate and Blair Spittal on target to secure a comfortable 5-1 aggregate scoreline.
Falkirk 1 United 2. Friday May 19, 2017.
Having seen off Morton with relative ease, United found it tougher against the Bairns, who had enjoyed some time off thanks to finishing runners-up behind Hibs. The Tangerines could only manage a 2-2 in the first leg at Tannadice so there were concerns going into the second play-off match at the Falkirk Stadium. Those worries increased when the hosts took the lead after just 11 minutes thanks to James Craigen’s strike. However, McKinnon’s men hung in there and Murray grabbed the equaliser with a side-footed shot on 76 minutes. With just three minutes remaining, it was Paul Dixon who turned out to be the hero. His looping header was his first United goal in over five years and it sparked wild celebrations among the large away support. Sadly, a fatigued United side would go on to lose the play-off final to Premiership side Hamilton Accies and stay down.
St Mirren 2 United 0. Friday December 29, 2017.
United went into this festive period match in Paisley knowing that victory would move them top of the Championship but instead they ended it five points adrift of the Buddies. It could have been all so different had they not squandered a golden chance to take the lead after just 13 minutes. Defender Mark Durnan was fouled in the box by Ian McShane but Paul McMullan’s penalty was saved by Saints keeper Craig Samson. You could see the momentum swing towards the hosts after that and Celtic-bound Lewis Morgan scored twice in the second half to seal the three points. They didn’t know it then but there was a terrible development for United on 76 minutes when Scott Fraser hobbled off to be replaced by Scott Allardice. It was subsequently revealed that Fraser had refractured his foot and would need surgery.