The honest truth is that I have no idea what this match review is going to look like. Yesterday was one of those afternoons that can leave you feeling totally MyPa’d (and for those of you who were at that game you will know what I mean).
I have to be careful as to how I sum up the actual match yesterday because technically we actually played pretty well and utterly dominated for large spells. What we did struggle with was something that has plagued us many a time this season, we just didn’t take our chances. The word profligate was invented for days like yesterday but the story and the anger/disappointment/despair doesn’t end there given what the day could have ended up like. With Ross County losing to Alloa we had a wonderful opportunity to re-ignite a title race that we all knew was going to be a long-shot, but one that the eternal optimist that lives within us thought possible.
The title race is still technically a thing but we are now in the end-zone. The next seven days will decide things. We face Ross County away next Friday but before then County take on Inverness. If they dropped points to their local rivals and then we managed to get the win in Dingwall we can still dream of an astonishing turnaround but yesterday was a massive kick in the goolies and it was a result that left us all experiencing an emotional cocktail that we have felt so many times before in recent seasons.
Getting over the finishing line when the pressure is on remains our biggest obstacle. The psychological roadblocks and the sense of “we know how this ends” remains despite the club going through a very positive set of changes. United are still a club that struggle with these important footballing moments that turn decent sides into great teams and it is something we need to get back.
The positive from yesterday is that we are still in the hunt and things have not changed. We are still in the same position we were and although the defeat to Queen of the South is incredibly galling it could be that I am writing a match review next weekend and the dream is still alive.
There is a part of me that kind of wants us to be able to draw a line under things so that we can throw all of our energy into the scenario we think is most likely, the promotion playoff schedule, but as long as we are in this then we have to give our full support to the team and hope that football throws us a miracle. At least by next Friday night we will know if we can continue to dream or if we need to concentrate on the playoffs.
Yesterday highlighted our failure to convert possession and gilt edged chances. It was all the more apparent given we were facing Stephen Dobbie, a man who would have scored about four goals if he was playing in tangerine. The actual statistical analysis from the match will show that we had 15 corners, huge periods of possession and three or four great chances but we were guilty of not being able to deliver that final moment of quality. For me this wasn’t helped by having a central midfield that were unable to cut open the middle of the park.
Butcher and Stanton did not work and this could have been a game for a pairing of Harkes and Gomis or even a diamond midfield (something we eventually used late-on). The Queen of the South shape meant that McMullan and Robson always had two players to beat so we needed to use the central areas as a way through. The changes to help with that came far too late and really should have happened at half-time once it became apparent that things were not working.
On another day we could have won the game comfortably but we made things difficult for ourselves by relying on crosses rather than central runs and passing moves through the middle.
Player Ratings –
1 – Benji Siegrist – Had little to do but his distribution was poor and ponderous at times. 5
49 – Charlie Seaman – I’m yet to be convinced of Seaman. For all of his potential attacking worth he is far too often caught out defensively. 4
30 – Mark Reynolds – Defensively under no massive pressure but he was incredibly wasteful when distributing the ball. 4
19 – Rachid Bouhenna – The right type of game for a ball player at the back but he didn’t drive forward enough or carry the ball when he should have. 5
3 – Callum Booth – One of his nervy and hesitant games. He has been decent behind Robson recently but yesterday he was too anxious in possession. 4
12 – Sam Stanton – Should have been a perfect game for him to drive with the ball but he really struggled to make any impact. 4
18 – Calum Butcher – Very wasteful in possession and for me we needed someone like Gomis or Harkes in his role given the amount of the ball we had. 4
17 – Jamie Robson – Not as influential as in previous weeks and did not have the better of the opposition fullback which limited him. 5
10 – Nicky Clark – Took his goal very well but really needs to be deployed further up the park. 5
14 – Pavol Safranko – On another day he could have had a hat-trick at least. Very wasteful infront of goal and an afternoon to forget. 4
7 – Paul McMullan – An aytpical McMullan performance. Little moments of quality but a terrible end product. 5
50 – Peter Pawlett – Surprised he was on the bench but the consensus seems to be he had a slight knock. Made a positive contribution but should have been on earlier.
47. Ian Harkes – Brought on at right-back despite us needing more bodies in the attacking areas. A strange call by the manager.
Man of the Match – This is probably one of those weeks where nobody really deserves it. We had a few decent performers but because everyone was so guilty of wasting chances or poor decision making at the vital time it is difficult to pick someone. It was a 4 or 5 out of 10 for everyone type of match when we really needed one or two to show moments of quality..
Up Next – In reality this is the game that will decide our fate. It could be the closure of the league but it could be (especially if County drop points to Inverness) the catalyst to a late title bid.
We actually, despite our early season collapse, have a decent record against Ross County this year and we showed a couple of weeks ago (and in the last away trip to Dingwall) that we can out-fight a strong County side. It is live on the TV which always gives United fans the heebie-jeebies but this could be a defining performance if we manage to get the victory.
Hopefully we pack the away stand and the team can show everyone what they are capable of. The dream is still alive, just, so lets give it all we’ve got.
Championship Results –
Dunfermline 0 – 1 Ayr (Friday)
Inverness 0 – 0 Falkirk
Alloa 1 – 0 Ross County
Dundee United 1 – 2 Queen of the South
Morton 0 – 3 Partick