Patience will be key for Dundee United as they aim to end year on a high

© SNSMatty Smith scoring against Alloa in the Irn-Bru Cup earlier this season.
Matty Smith scoring against Alloa in the Irn-Bru Cup earlier this season.

Dundee United frontman Matty Smith has preached patience ahead of the trip to Alloa.

Smith is expecting the Wasps to sit in rather than come at the Tangerines this afternoon.

United already know how challenging a visit to Recreation Park can be as they could only draw 1-1 back in September under previous boss Csaba Laszlo.

That scoreline won’t be an acceptable one, you would imagine, for new gaffer Robbie Neilson who will be hoping to take advantage should leaders Ross County or Ayr United slip up in their respective games against Inverness Caley Thistle and Queen of the South.

However, Smith knows any success will have to be hard earned.

He said: These are the tough games where you have to grind out results.

“You maybe have your opponents sitting in with two banks of five and you have to break them down.

“We have been down there before a few times and it’s a horrible pitch.

“I think our fans know that it maybe won’t be the best football in the world but it is the final result that matters.

“We are not far off top spot so it’s important for us to carry forward a winning mentality.”

With no midweek games in the Championship unlike the top flight, Smith and his colleagues were given some festive time off.

However, there was always one eye on the weekend, with Smith saying: “We had two days off for Christmas – they were nice to us!

“We were back at it on Thursday and we are all raring to go for the Alloa match.

“Overall, I think things have gone well under the new manager.

“We had what hopefully will be a one-off defeat against Ayr and have had a few draws.

“But we got right back on track against Falkirk last weekend.

“We got an early-ish goal from Sam (Stanton) and were able to relax a wee bit.

“They scored right at the end but we held on for what was a decent win.”

Smith started against Inverness a fortnight ago but illness restricted him to a cameo role off as a replacement for Fraser Aird against the Bairns.

Now back to full health, he is desperate to impress Neilson again.

“The gaffer came in and needed to give the senior boys a chance and then see how the younger lads get on – make us work for our position in the team,” added Smith, whose only goal of the season came in the Irn-Bru Cup against Alloa back in September.

“Hopefully, I have done OK and worked myself into the team now.”

If he does start today, Smith will likely be alongside Slovakian striker Pavol Safranko, someone he admires and respects.

Smith said: “Pavol is a very experienced player.

“Even in training he always gives 100% and works very hard in the gym.

“You see that work paying off for him in games.

“He is certainly someone I look up to.

“His mentality is ‘work hard and you become a better player’ and that’s a good one to have.

“He is the kind of player who can make a difference in a game like the one at Alloa and I hope to kick on as well.

“I had a bit of an illness but I am ready to go now.”