Lawrence Shankland saved Dundee United’s blushes with a spectacular late double to beat Arbroath 2-1 at Tannadice.
You had to feel sorry for the Arbroath players, who looked likely to win this match until just a couple of minutes from the end.
With the clock striking 88 minutes, the Gayfield men were leading 1-0 thanks to Luke Donnelly’s goal after 53 minutes.
The Tangerines looked down and out but they kept going and Shankland first shot home two minutes from time and then nodded home Liam Smith’s cross to break the Angus men’s hearts with an incredible stoppage-time winner.
For most of the game, though, the Tangerines were as terrible as the Lichties were excellent.
It was hard to believe that this was the same United team that had ripped Dundee to bits in the derby just three weeks ago on this very pitch.
They had moved Calum Butcher back to central defence for Troy Brown, who missed out to attend the birth of his child. Ian Harkes took his place in midfield.
Cammy Smith replaced Paul McMullan in a more straightforward switch.
Gavin Swankie and Scott Stewart once again missed for the Lichties, while on-loan Aberdeen midfielder Miko Virtanen had to make do with a place on the bench.
The match took a while to get warmed up, with two shots from United’s Louis Appere the best of the early action.
A lovely ball in from Arbroath’s Michael McKenna deserved a finish but it ran through to home keeper Benjamin Siegrist.
The Tangerines were looking a little sluggish and it wasn’t the bright start they would have wanted.
On 29 minutes, there was a scare for United when Colin Hamilton’s header looped up and went above Siegrist’s reach. Home striker Lawrence was there to stop the ball going in but it was a clear foul on the goalie anyway.
United’s Jamie Robson and Butcher, as well as the Lichties’ McKenna, were booked on 38 minutes following a flare-up near the technical areas. Robson and McKenna were directly involved in the incident, while Butcher got stuck in later.
United came within a whisker of the lead on 41 minutes when a cross from Smith was met by Shankland’s boot and the ball came back off the post.
Arbroath skipper Mark Whatley was cautioned for dissent just before the break after being penalised for fouling Sam Stanton before Bobby Linn was booked for diving in first-half injury-time.
Five minutes after the break the ball was headed inches past the far post by United midfielder Harkes after a dangerous corner from the right by Stanton.
However, entered its 53rd minute it was 1-0 to the Lichties.
The scorer was Donnelly and the provider was, not surprisingly, Linn, who took a great ball from James Murphy then crossed for his mate to find the net.
United immediately took off Cammy Smith and brought on McMullan.
On the hour mark, it was nearly 2-0 to Arbroath when sub Josh Campbell smashed a shot off the United post.
Steven Doris, who had come on as a sub for the Angus men, took his turn to torment the Tannadice team when he steered a shot just wide.
It was torture for the home fans as they watched their players huff and puff.
However, Shankland pulled them level with a low drive on 88 minutes after he was played in by McMullan.
The goal specialist then sent a fabulous header into the net after he was found by a Smith cross.
You almost felt sorry for the Arbroath players but they can hold their heads as high as the cliffs after this display.