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<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Jim Jefferies 2nd <-auth Stuart Bathgate auth-> Brian Winter
[J Daly 38]
5 of 010 -----L SPL H

Steadfast United unruffled by Goodwillie's exit

Published Date: 01 August 2011
Hearts 0
Dundee United 1
Daly (37)
Referee: B Winter
Attendance: 13,821
OVER the course of the season Dundee United are sure to miss a player of David Goodwillie's quality. Yesterday, though, they did not miss him at all, as they deservedly claimed a victory which was more emphatic than the scoreline suggests.

Hearts - with their owner Vladimir Romanov watching during a rare visit to Tynceastle - were competitive enough physically, and in the first half stretched the play well, with full-backs Ryan McGowan and Danny Grainger being involved in a number of promising attacks.

Over the piece, however, they were less coherent, less imaginative - and, crucially, not so well drilled in defence, allowing Jon Daly to rise unmarked to score the only goal of the game late in the first half.

That goal came against the run of play, for the home team had the advantage territorially in the first half. They also had a good chance to equalise before the break through Stephen Elliott, and if they had levelled then, the match could have taken on a far different character.

Hearts had their chances in the second half, too, notably when David Templeton's shot on the turn produced a fine instinctive reaction from Dusan Pernis, who tipped the ball over the bar. But United always looked as likely to add to their lead as Hearts did to equalise, and maintained their discipline throughout a frenetic late flurry in which the home team threw everything into a bid to avoid their first defeat of the season.

It was neither the result nor the performance Hearts had hoped for before they turn their attention to Thursday night's return leg of their Europa League tie against Paksi, and there was no denying the fact that the journey to Hungary for the first leg had left several players feeling flat.

The frustration of playing against a back four as well organised as United's, however, could stand them in good stead against Paksi, who can be expected to defend in depth and try to play on the counter-attack.

United ended up adopting that strategy as Hearts pinned them back, but for the bulk of the match were more positive. Indeed, they had the first chance of the game in just the second minute when John Rankin slid in to shoot wide after a couple of swift passes had created an opening on the right of the box.

The former Hibs midfielder came a lot closer to scoring on the quarter-hour after being fouled on the very edge of the penalty box by Adrian Mrowiec.

Rankin stepped up to take the free-kick himself, and was unlucky to see his drive thud off the crossbar and rebound to safety.

By that time Stephen Elliott had had Hearts' first real scoring opportunity of the game when he back-heeled a low drive from Marius Zaliukas past the post, then midway through the first half the striker had another clear chance in the box only to shoot straight into the hands of Dusan Pernis.

A cross from the left by Grainger had the United defence in trouble, but was too fast for both Elliott and John Sutton, and four minutes before the interval Elliott had another opening, but shot past the post. By that time, however, United had the lead. A magnificent save by Marian Kello had kept out a Daly volley after Paul Dixon crossed from the left, but from the resultant corner the goalkeeper's good work was undone as Zaliukas failed to pick up the Irishman. With the Hearts captain posted missing, Willo Flood's cross from the right found Daly in space, and the striker headed home unmarked from around ten yards.

A David Templeton free-kick which went too high to trouble Pernis was the first scoring attempt of note after the break, but Scott Allan, Garry Kenneth and Johny Russell all had decent efforts after that as United got on top and looked well worth their lead. Templeton was then on target with a fine shot on the turn, but it was straight at Pernis, who palmed over.

With 20 minutes to play, Jim Jefferies made a double substitution, taking off Templeton and Elliott, and bringing on Arvydas Novikovas and Rudi Skacel. Making his first appearance of the season - a sign, apparently, that he is close to agreeing a one-year extension to his contract - Skacel was in on the action immediately, but his shot skidded harmlessly past the left post.

In stoppage time, a third Hearts substitute, Ryan Stevenson, came close to grabbing an equaliser when from the tightest of angles he looped the ball over Pernis. Dixon was on hand to clear, however, and United were able to play out time.

Hearts: Kello, McGowan, Jonsson, Zaliukas, Grainger, Black, Obua, Mrowiec (Skacel 70), Templeton, Elliott (Novikovas 70), Sutton (Stevenson 76). Subs not used: MacDonald, Barr, Smith, Robinson.

Dundee United: Pernis, Watson, Dillon, Kenneth, Dixon, Flood, Severin (Robertson 75), Allan (Douglas 82), Rankin, Daly, Russell. Subs not used: Banks, Armstrong, Mackay-Steven, Dow, Hilson.

Scott Allan (Dundee United)

Making his first start for United - and only his second appearance - the young midfielder was industrious and efficient, and played a critical role in his team's gaining the upper hand in that area of the pitch as the visitors secured a solid away victory.

Taken from the Scotsman

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