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ICT 2 Dundee United 2: Late, late goal denies United win

Dundee Utd's John Rankin celebrates his goal with his team-mates after opening the scoring.
Dundee Utd's John Rankin celebrates his goal with his team-mates after opening the scoring.

Dundee United took their Premiership pain to a new low when they conceded a stoppage time goal that cost them a precious win in the Highlands.

They looked to have got their first victory in seven matches with an 81st minute Billy Mckay strike but this Inverness point will feel like a defeat.

John Rankin gave them the lead in the first half and, after it was cancelled out by a Liam Polworth finish at the start of the second, Mckay came back to haunt the hosts.

United fans and players are used to cruel endings this season. However this was the biggest body blow yet, as two minutes into added time Lewis Horner scrambled home an equaliser.

Chris Erskine was back in the United team and he nearly set up a goal with the first attack of the game.

The former Partick man delivered a ball across the six-yard box and Mckay was inches away from connecting as he slid at full stretch.

It was a fine start from the visitors and on four minutes Mckay was gifted possession on the edge of the box. The ex-Caley Thistle hero’s low shot took a deflection off Danny Devine and keeper Fon Williams was able to keep it out with his body.

ICT responded well, and Michael Szromnik kept out a Miles Storey shot from the corner of the box.

But, when United took the lead on 26 minutes, it was fully deserved.

Scott Fraser cut the ball back for Rankin whose rocket high into the net from just inside the box gave Williams no chance.

Some of the football the Tangerines were playing at this point was a throwback to the good old days, and after one such superb move Erskine was a fraction heavy with a through ball that would have put Mckay in on goal.

There was a sign that United’s luck might be turning when they escaped a 38th minute goalmouth scramble with their lead intact.

And then, with seconds left of the first 45, their good fortune continued when Vincent headed wide with the goal at his mercy six yards out.

You could imagine what Mixu Paatelainen’s half-time team talk would have been. Something along the lines of “keep it tight at the start of the second half lads”.

Well, keep it tight at the start of the second half United certainly did not.

After just 32 seconds it was 1-1 when Danny Williams crossed from the left for Polworth to volley home at the back post, with both passer and finisher getting far too much space.

After weathering a post-equaliser storm, United got back in the game and when Fraser and Nat Wedderburn came together in the box, many a referee would have pointed to the spot. Not Craig Thomson, though. He waved play on.

The jitters were creeping back into their game midway through the second half, and Gavin Gunning had one of his moments when he let Polworth steel the ball on the Caley right. In the end it took a Mark Durnan clearance off the line to keep the score at 1-1.

Then moments later a frozen United defence allowed Devine to head a corner inches wide of the post.

It looked as if it was to be the Tangerines’ day for a change when on 81 minutes Mckay drilled the ball home after Williams couldn’t gather an Erskine cross.

On 87 minutes Warren headed against the bar but there was still time for a sting in the tail. Two minutes into injury time Horner bundled the ball across the line from point-blank range to leave United with that familiar dejected Saturday afternoon feeling.

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