Dec 7 2009
ST MIRREN’S run of woe now stretches to six SPL games without victory after Dundee United grabbed a win they barely deserved.
The Buddies bossed Saturday’s first half at Tannadice but were stung when Craig Levin’s side grabbed two goals just before the interval through Damian Casalinuovo and Craig Conway.
Saints were gifted a route back into the game when the Arabs were reduced to ten men after Morgaro Gomis was sent off for aiming an off- the-ball slap at Steven Thomson.
And Gus MacPherson’s side capitalised on their man advantage right away as they forced Darren Dods to head into his own net.
But despite pushing for an equaliser, Jennison Myrie-Williams scored a third goal for United to kill off Paisley hopes of a crucial away win.
Stephen O’Donnell did add a late second strike for Saints, but it merely put a gloss on a disappointing day for the Paisley side.
MacPherson made just one change to his line-up from last week’s defeat by Celtic, replacing the crocked Andy Dorman with Michael Higdon, who partnered Billy Mehmet up front.
There was still no place in central defence for captain John Potter, who started on the bench, while Lee Mair and Chris Innes continued with their partnership at the back.
United had their own selection worries too ahead of kick-off, with Levein reshuffling his pack following the suspensions dished out to midfielder Prince Bauben and substitute Danny Swanson following their red cards in last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Motherwell, while Danny Cadamarteri also dropped out.
In came Sean Dillon and David Goodwillie, while Scott Robertson continued his return from injury on the subs bench.
The Saints spent the first few minutes pinging the ball to one another as they got used to the greasy Tannadice surface. A mist of rain had coated the pitch in moisture, and Thomson tried to use this to his advantage as he skimmed a low shot across the surface. However United keeper Nicky Weaver did well to smother the third-minute effort.
Saints looked content to launch everything long and high for their big two up front. However they enjoyed little change off Andy Webster and Dods in the early exchanges.
Thomson tried again after 10 minutes, this time volleying Jack Ross’ pass from the right flank high over Weaver’s goal.
St Mirren had the ball in the net on 13 minutes as another Ross cross was flicked in to Higdon by Garry Brady’s cute reverse pass, but as the Scouse front man buried the ball into the United goal, linesman Lawrence Kerrigan lifted his flag for offside.
Stephen McGinn was handed the first booking of the game by ref Brian Winter after he clattered into Gomis as they challenged for a high ball.
Higdon was unlucky not to find the net after 23 minutes as he got across Dods to meet Hugh Murray’s low cross but could only prod the ball wide.
Brady thought he’d won a penalty seconds later when he tumbled inside the box after Mihael Kovacevic had left a leg trailing, but Winter refused to sanction the spot-kick.
There was no doubt that Saints had looked the better side in the opening half-hour but, as has happened so often this season, their failure to capitalise on their dominance with a goal cost the Buddies dear.
United midfielder Sean Dillon played a lovely pass in behind the Paisley defence from the left flank and Casalinuovo held his run before slamming an angled drive into the far corner of the net, past Paul Gallacher’s despairing reach.
And it could have been worse for MacPherson’s team had Goodwillie not fluffed what seemed to be a simple tap- in from six yards out following Casalinuovo’s knock down.
But Saints were caught out for a second time – and it is a goal that Paul Gallacher will not want to see again.
United won a free-kick wide on the right as the game moved towards the interval and, as the keeper edged off his line anticipating a cross, Craig Conway whipped a shot into the top right hand corner of the net.
St Mirren’s luck got no better in stoppage time of the first half as Mehmet fizzed in a low shot which cannoned back off Weaver’s right-hand stick, and the rebound evaded Higdon as he darted in looking to score.
The Arabs were still buoyed on by their late goal surge from the first half by the time the second kicked-off and threatened again as Paul Dixon crossed for Casalinuovo at the near post, but he could only direct the ball wide of target.
Goodwillie joined McGinn in the book as he tugged back Brady when the former Spurs man looked to break away following a failed United attack.
Meanwhile home winger Myrie- Williams also had his name taken for smashing Thomson in the face with his elbow as he leapt for a header.
That offence on 58 minutes took place just a yard outside United’s box, but Saints stand-in skipper Ross blootered their resulting free-kick straight into the Arabs’ wall.
St Mirren were handed a surprising boost when Gomis was sent off by referee Winter for lashing out at Thomson off the ball.
MacPherson’s team were handed a free-kick on the halfway line as a result of the dismissal, which Ross pumped long into a crowded box.
After a flick on by Innes, Dods nodded the ball past his own keeper to give Saints a lifeline.
Levein responded immediately, brining on Scott Robertson for Goodwillie as he looked to strengthen his midfield, while he also swapped Casalinuovo for striker Jon Daly. MacPherson made his own change, replacing Brady with O’Donnell.
With a man advantage, Saints were enjoying the bulk of possession, but United had retreated into their own half and were content to pack the midfield as they held onto their slender lead. The visitors threw on Steven Robb in place of Murray.
MacPherson must have held his breath for a moment as David Barron flew into a reckless challenge with Myrie-Williams, escaping with just a booking.
But the clash didn’t seem to leave Myrie-Williams with any lasting effects as he put United two clear once more on 79 minutes.
Latching onto Conway’s terrific pass, the winger strode into the box before cleverly lifting the ball over the diving Gallacher.
Innes was next to go in to the book as he brought down Conway on the half- line. Meanwhile MacPherson made his final switch, replacing Thomson with young striker Conor Ramsay.
United skipper Dods was forced off with a bloodied face with three minutes remaining.
And, while he was off the park receiving treatment, Saints grabbed another goal back as O’Donnell drove in from the right before blasting a low shot past Weaver, with a bounce off a United leg helping the ball on its way.
The adrenalin must have been pumping pretty strongly for the midfielder after his goal as he collected the sixth booking of the game as he smashed into Dixon with a late challenge deep in United’s half.
But despite launching a couple of desperate long balls into the box in the closing stages, St Mirren could not find an equaliser, and the players must now focus on next week’s meeting with Falkirk as they look to get back to winning ways.