better meddle...

wi' the de'il than the bairns o' fa'kirk

Match Report

Sunday, 28th December, 2008

by Brian Welsh

Dundee United 1-0 Falkirk

SCOTT ROBERTSON bailed out blundering striker Jon Daly with a wonder winner as Dundee United ended 2008 as the third force in Scottish football.

The midfielder's stunning early volley was all United had to show for 90 minutes of domination after Daly endured a horror show in front of goal.

They weren't helped by ref Chris Boyle who stunned home fans by waving away claims for a penalty in the second half when Darren Barr denied Warren Feeney who was clean through.

And Daly and Co survived a massive scare late on when Falkirk camewithin a lick of paint of snatching an unlikely draw as Scott Arfield struck the inside of a post.

But a share of the points would have been daylight robbery and Bairns' afternoon ended on a sour note when skipper Barr saw red near the end.

The Arabs began like a team possessed and almost blew their opponents away in a blistering first 10 minutes.

Full-back Paul Dixon was at the heart of many good moves and Feeney flicked his cross against the bar. Daly tapped in the rebound only to be flagged offside.

Robertson came close moments later following a neat one-two with Craig Conway before both Daly and Feeney fired efforts off target when they might have done better. It looked like Falkirk had weathered the storm but they fell behind to a brilliant goal in 21 minutes.

Again Dixon did the legwork, finding Feeney on the leftwith a measured pass.

The striker's bouncing cross was only half headed clear by Barr and Robertson showed tremendous technique to connect with a volley in mid-air and steer it into the bottom corner.

Falkirk weren't at the races but should have levelled seven minutes before half-time.

Michael Higdon found Arfield unmarked in the box only for the midfielder to fire over when composure was crucial.

Arfield did much better when presented with a similar chance four minutes after the restart but his firm angled drive was superbly stopped by the strong right hand of Lukasz Zaluska.

Still United looked the likelier to score and Conway almost gave them breathing space when his miss-hit shot hit the bar before Daly missed an absolute sitter.

Shaun Dillon sent Feeney racing down the right and his cutback was perfect but Daly leaned back and from just 12 yards sent the ball high into the stand.

The game was finely poised and Falkirk survived a massive scare when Barr appeared to haul down Feeney as he raced on to Willo Flood's pass. It looked a penalty and red card all the way for last-man Barr but ref Boyle infuriated Craig Levein by playing on.

That decision would have proved critical had Falkirk gone on to rescue a point and they came so close with 16 minutes to go.

Arfield's shot from the edge of the box seemed destined for the bottom corner but struck a post and bounced across the line to safety.

Barr then saw red after collecting his second booking for a trip on Feeney and with his dismissal Falkirk's lingering hopes were gone.

REF WATCH: CHRIS BOYLE had one major call to make and got it wrong. Darren Barr made no attempt to play the ball when Warren Feeney burst past him in the box and it looked a stonewall penalty and red card. Rating: 5/10.