Some of you may have noticed that I hadn’t published a match preview for the match against Partick Thistle and for that I blame the club…..
I had originally planned on putting together a preview full of exciting news and player announcements but the longer I held off the more obvious it became that this week wasn’t going to be full of the signings we had maybe hoped for. Given Neilson’s post-match comments last weekend we half expected an influx of players and a long list of departures but as we approached the weekend the only addition to the squad, Aidan Nesbitt, was announced late on Friday.
One huge positive heading into the Partick fixture was the result at Cappielow on Friday. Having lost to Morton, Ross County slipped up and it gave us a real chance at closing the gap at the top. Could we make the most of it?
This is United so the answer was no, and not for the first time this season. We ended up probably creating enough to earn a draw but the first 45 yesterday was one of the worst we’ve seen in a long time (and we’ve seen some really, really bad performances). It also leaves us looking at the last fortnight and a missed opportunity of being maybe only two or three points off the top.
For some of the opening spell yesterday it honestly felt like we were heading for one of those home matches where we completely collapse. Partick seemed to have energy and purpose and when sides come to Tannadice like that we still cannot cope under that pressure.
Much of what I will say about yesterday can be lifted from two or three other match reports this season but simply put, Partick were up for it and bullied us early on. We then seemed to be determined to play the laborious and cautious football that was such a hallmark of the Laszlo side. Passes that could have been quickly played after one or two touches ended up taking three or four and they were undercooked or slowly released. We didn’t get balls through the middle and we were overrun in the middle of the park. Both Fyvie and Stanton were very poor yesterday and Fyvie in particular looked miles off the pace.
Neilson said after the match that he was really pleased with aspects of the performance but for me that misses the mark and is not reflective of what we had to endure in the first half yesterday. It wasn’t good enough and we will not be winning the league if we continue to concede soft goals from set pieces.
It sounds like we should have had one or two extra bodies signed for the game yesterday but it wasn’t to be and that left Neilson with a bit of a red face in some ways because he had to name basically the same squad as last weekend despite the promises that he wouldn’t. There needs to be movement before the Dunfermline game and ideally we will have at least two players in for that match and maybe one or two departures. There is still three weeks left in this window but we don’t want to leave it too late.
One final piece of intrigue from yesterday was the transfer of Craig Curran to Dundee. That move was finalised after the match yesterday but for me I found it very strange that Curran was even allowed in to the building let alone feature in the match day squad. He literally went across the road after the match to change into his Dundee gear to take photos of him signing his contract there. At half-time he just wandered about speaking to folk and it was clear that he was out the door. I would have rather his place went to a youngster if Neilson had no plans to use him (if this match was couple of weeks ago I think we would have seen him on the park late on to try and win it).
Player Ratings –
1 – Benji Siegrist – Guilty of not being strong enough at the goal but recovered well and made some good saves to keep us in the game. 6
2 – Stewart Murdoch – An up and down game with a few decent interceptions mixed in with poor decision making. 5
4 – Frederic Frans – Looked very uncomfortable in spells yesterday and it nearly cost us. 4
19 – Rachid Bouhenna – Shows great touches and composure at times. Is much more controlled and confident in possession than his fellow defenders. 5
3 – Callum Booth – Poor again yesterday and was often beaten too easily by his man. 4
8 – Fraser Fyvie – Had one of his poorest ever games for us. Looked off the pace, easily bullied in midfield and did not contribute going forward. 3
12 – Sam Stanton – Another quiet week for Stanton and he was guilty of going missing in a midfield that was already struggling. 4
7 – Paul McMullan – Worked realy hard in spells and lifted his game when Nesbitt came on but yet again his decision making let him down badly. 4
16 – Matty Smith – He shows flashes of good ability but he doesn’t get involved often enough. 5
33 – Fraser Aird – His worst game for us by some distance. Couldn’t control the ball and guilty of not tracking his man on several occasions. 2
14 – Pavol Šafranko – Much more involved in the second half but spent much of the game looking very frustrated at the lack of service. 5
11. Billy King – Made no impact.
15. Aidan Nesbitt – Showed some lively touches and moved around the park into spaces which opened the game up. Guilty of some poor finishing and he could have won the game late on.
Man of the Match – Slim pickings for yet another fixture. Despite being guilty of not being stronger at the Partick goal it has to be said that Benji Siegrist kept the score down in the first half and made a couple of important interceptions in the second. His distribution was again pretty positive and he is always keen to release the ball quickly.
Up Next – Another home match as Dunfermline visit Tannadice. It is yet another huge, must win game given recent results and it is vital that we have new faces in the squad ahead of this one.
Championship Results –
Greenock Morton 1 – 0 Ross County (Friday)
Ayr United 0 – 1 Falkirk
Dunfermline 2 – 2 Alloa
Dundee United 1 – 1 Partick Thistle
Inverness Caley Thistle 1 – 2 Queen of the South