Web reporter Martin McConnell reports from Tannadice
Ladbrokes Premiership Playoff Final, 1st leg
Tannadice Stadium, Dundee
Thursday 25th May 2017 at 7.45pm.
Dundee United 0 Hamilton Academical 0
Premiership status for both sides, now comes down to the result of Sunday’s second leg at the SuperSeal, after the encounter at Tannadice finished goal less. There were chances for Accies, especially in the first half, but it just wasn’t to be. More importantly now for us, thoughts will turn to the strength of Sunday’s side, after Dougie Imrie and Massimo Donati finished the game as walking wounded.
But the talking point will surely be the controversial moment when United striker Simon Murray was given his marching orders, following a second yellow card for simulation inside the Hamilton penalty area. It was big decision with just 14 minutes of play left.
Accies boss Martin Canning’s immediate thoughts on the incident, “I just saw Scotty go for the ball, you see the players going down and then you just hold your breath and think that maybe it is. Then when he didn’t give it, I assumed that there wasn’t any contact. I’ve heard people say that it could have been, but that is part and parcel of the game. We’ve had plenty go against us this season, and if it is, it’s nice to have one go in our favour.”
“I felt that we were the better team in the first half and thought that we passed the ball well, moved it around and created opportunities. We should have been one or two goals ahead in the first half, but didn’t finish and take our chances. Danny Redmond had a good chance and Ali had a wee half chance from the edge of the box, then Rakish was clean through on goal.
If we’d taken our chances we’d have been comfortable, but we didn’t manage to do that. It was always going to be competitive given what was at stake. I felt that we got bogged down in a second half which didn’t have much quality in it, but still had a couple of chances. I think overall it was a competitive match that we edged in the first half, followed by a second that didn’t have much in it.”
We made just the one change from Saturday’s starting line-up that beat the side from the opposite end of Tannadice Street. Massimo Donati coming in for Captain Michael Devlin, after having to come off at the weekend following an injury to his ACL. There were no changes to the Tangerines starting XI that lined up for the win at Falkirk Stadium.
Accies had a wee half chance early on when a MacKinnon – Skondras one two, wide out on the right, left MacKinnon to place an excellent near post cross for Bingham. Unfortunately, Kuate got a foot on the ball to deny the striker his chance. In answer, United made a couple of decent runs forward, without a final product worthy enough to trouble Matthews.
Following a United corner, Bingham intercepted a Kuate pass, sprinted up the right with Redmond following through the centre. His cross was good, but Redmond’s touch was weak and the keeper gathered. Some nice work from Crawford and Imrie then led to another near post ball, this time from the left, but again, blocked before Bingham could get on the end of it.
Accies seemed to be winning the physical battle also, with the terrors being caught in possession time after time. The best and only clear cut opportunity came when a perfectly placed Templeton through ball found Bingham in full flow, took him past the last defender before seeing his 15-yard strike blocked as the keeper quickly closed the distance down.
The match went from end to end, this time United threatening after Donati and Gogic ran into each other. Gogic was able to recover and make a last-ditch challenge that sent the ball wide, but the danger wasn’t over, as Matthews had to be quick on his toes to clear the ball into the stand, taking a heavy knock in the process.
After a relatively barren spell, Murray had a chance to create something when making a run in on goal from wide. Instead of trying to make something of the opportunity, he anticipated a Donati challenge which never materialised and launched himself into the penalty area, and was promptly booked for his trouble.
Six minutes before the break, Donati intercepted another United ball, before spreading it wide to Dougie Imrie. The ball was then cut inside for Ali Crawford, his shot across goal looked to be heading wide. So, Templeton threw himself at it in an attempt to divert towards goal, but the strike beat him for pace and sailed out for a goal kick.
Three minutes after the restart Accies were awarded a free kick, 35 yards from the United goal. In what must have been a well-rehearsed training ground routine, Crawford dinked the ball over the top, Massimo raced round and got a touch on the ball. However, the keeper comfortably gathered, before the ref decided that the skipper was offside.
Templeton then went close when the ball found him just inside the box, cutting inside, he shot toward the back post. The ball took a slight deflection as Cammy Bell watched, rooted to the spot, as the ball rolled just wide. As if in response, Mikkelsen directed a header toward the top corner of the Accies goal, Matthews launched himself and touched wide for a corner.
For the moment, United were having the lion’s share of the play, and threatened twice from the head of Mark Durnan. From different areas inside the penalty area, but the destination the same, top left hand corner of the net. On both occasions the result was the same, Matthews launched himself spectacularly across his goal to touch wide.
United: Bell, Dillon, Dixon, Durnan, Spittal, Murray, Edjenguele, Flood, Kuate (Telfer 56), Mikkelsen, Andreu (Nicholls 87). Subs Unused: Zwick, Donaldson, Toshney, Coote, Robson.
Cautions: Murray. Sent off: Murray, second yellow.
Accies: Matthews, Skondras, Imrie, Redmond (Docherty 73), Crawford, Gogic, Bingham (D’Acol 79), MacKinnon, Donati (c), McMann, Templeton (Longridge 62). Subs Unused: Woods, Gillespie, Watson, Want.
Cautions: Templeton, Imrie, Longridge, Gogic.
Referee:Steven McLean. Assistants: Dougie Potter & Graham Chambers. 4th Official: Don Robertson.