Verdict: Dundee United’s new American era kicks off with 2-1 victory

United's players celebrate Sam Stanton's opening goal.
United's players celebrate Sam Stanton's opening goal.

The American era at Dundee United began with a 2-1 home win over Falkirk.

The match was watched back in Minnesota by new chairman Mark Ogren via a live feed from Tannadice.

The US businessman will have been happy to see first Sam Stanton open the scoring on 22 minutes then Pavol Safranko follow up with a second goal on 53 minutes.

The Bairns were then reduced to 10 men when ex-United captain Paul Paton was sent off for a suspected head-butt on Safranko.

The visitors got a goal back in injury-time when Aaron Muirhead scored a penalty but the hosts held on.

The Tangerines made just one change to the team that kicked off against Inverness last weekend, with Paul McMullan coming in for Matty Smith.

The first chance fell to United off a corner on five minutes, with Fraser Aird picking out Frederic Frans only for the Belgian’s header to fly past the post.

On 15 minutes, the Bairns had an opportunity when Zak Rudden nodded goalwards but home keeper Benjamin Siegrist leapt to his right to save.

On 22 minutes, United took the lead their play deserved.

It was a bit of scrappy one, with a heavy deflection sending goalie David Mitchell the wrong way after Stanton shot from just outside the box.

However, Stanton didn’t care how it came about and neither did the supporters in what was a pretty respectable pre-Christmas attendance of 5,267.

There was some neat interplay between Safranko and McMullan inside the Falkirk box on the half-hour but the latter’s shot was saved.

The Tangerines had a quick break forward on 36 minutes when Siegrist’s kick out sent McMullan away. He held on to the ball until he could square for Stanton, whose strike flew way over.

Five minutes before the break, United came within a whisker of a second goal when Rachid Bouhenna’s volley was tipped on to the bar by Bairns goalie Mitchell.

Just a minute after the break, the Tangerines threatened again when a header from Frans just cleared the bar.

The Tannadice men were 2-0 up on 53 minutes with a simple but effective goal from a corner.

Aird took the setpiece from the left and it landed perfectly on Safranko’s forehead, with the Slovakian striker steering the ball just inside the post.

There was a hush inside the stadium on the hour mark when United captain Fraser Fyvie stayed down on the ground and needed treatment.

Fyvie walked to the touchline but was clearly in some pain and was substituted. The problem seemed to be his ankle rather than a knee injury but United weren’t taking any chances.

As Fyfvie hobbled towards the tunnel there was a flare-up involving Paton and Safranko on 64 minutes.

There were claims that Paton had used his head on Safranko. Referee Stewart Kirkland waved the red card at the Falkirk midfielder and the United striker got a yellow.

Just a few minutes later, United boss Robbie Neilson took the sensible option by replacing Safranko with sub Craig Curran.

McMullan then missed a sitter on 76 minutes when he blasted over when teed up perfectly just inside the box.

United had another injury scare on 80 minutes when keeper Siegrist needed treatment on a shoulder injury. The bis Swiss recovered and played on.

Three minutes from time it was nearly three for the hosts when Frans again powered in a  header that Mitchell did well to hang on to.

The home team seemed to strolling to the final whistle but they conceded a goal two minutes into injury-time through Muirhead’s penalty after Dennon Lewis was fouled.