better meddle...

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

Match Report

Monday, 28th December, 2009

by Robert Thomson

Dundee United 1 - 0 Falkirk: Levein's men in complete control and still favourites for third European slot

THEY made it much more difficult than it needed to be but Dundee United assumed pole position in the race for third place by defeating Falkirk.

In a match which could easily have yielded a glut of goals, Scott Robertson's first-half effort was the only one recorded and sent Craig Levein's team three points above Hearts in the race for UEFA Cup places.

United created enough chances to win half a dozen matches but some criminal finishing – and an even more criminal decision by referee Chris Boyle to deny a second-half penalty – ensured nerves remained jangling until the very end.

The hosts took the game in their grip from the outset, steamrollering Falkirk in the early stages. The only surprise is that it took them 21 minutes to actually take the lead, after creating two glorious chances in the opening 10 minutes.

On four minutes Paul Dixon, who impresses more each week, set up Warren Feeney with a perfectly-struck cross from the left-hand side but his flick cannoned off the bar before eventually being struck home by Jon Daly, only for United's celebrations to be muted by the linesman's flag.

United were in entire control of the contest before finally grabbing the opening goal which their play deserved. It was no surprise to see Dixon heavily involved, as he pinged a wonderful long ball to Feeney up the left flank.

Feeney sent a cross into the penalty area but it was knocked out by Darren Barr. Falkirk perhaps suspected the danger had been averted but they did not factor in the determination of Robertson, who lashing it into the bottom corner of Robert Olejnik's net from the edge of the area.

A lapse in concentration almost let Scott Arfield equalise but the midfielder blazed his shot over. The youngster was given a similar opportunity on 49 minutes and found the target this time, but could not beat goalkeeper Lukasz Zaluska.

Daly should have closed the game out for United on 56 minutes when Feeney set him up with a perfect cutback but he somehow shot over from 12 yards.

Referee Chris Boyle then became embroiled in controversy, turning down United's appeals for a penalty after Barr had clearly bundled over Feeney as he broke through on goal.

United boss Levein signed up to non-criticism of referees charter along with the rest of SPL managers but relations were anything but jovial as he darted first up and down the touchline and then marginally on to the pitch to remonstrate about the decision.

Barr was ordered off with eight minutes left for a second booking, dumping Willo Flood on the floor in the same unceremonious manner he had to Daly earlier in the match.