Date: 18th February 2007 at 12:15am
Written by:

On Sky

The Setanta cameras travel to Tannadice on Sunday, to show an intriguing SPL encounter between Craig Levein’s Dundee United and John Collin’s Hibernian.

Although it will be Hibs who travel to the city of Discovery as favourites, after dominating league meetings between the two sides in recent years.

Dundee United have won only 1 out of the last 15 league matches against Hibs, a record which stretches right back to the start of the 2002/2003 season.

Although, despite their lack of success in the league, Dundee United have had a bit more luck in the cup – knocking the Edinburgh club out of both competitions during the 2004/05 campaign.

Former striker Jim McIntyre scored in both the Scottish Cup and League Cup to give United 2-1 wins, but it was the Scottish Cup victory which the more important of the 2 cup victories.

A 58th minute Derek Riordan penalty gave Hibs the upper-hand in the Semi-Finals of the Scottish Cup at Hampden on the 9th of April 2005, but two goals in 3 minutes from Jim McIntyre and Jason Scotland set up a final between Dundee United and Celtic the following month.

The confidence gained from that 2-1 comeback against Hibs, inspired a late league comeback from Gordon Chisholm’s side – resulting in a 1-0 win over Caley Thistle on the last day of the season, which plunged local rivals Dundee down into the Scottish 1st division.

Without that Scottish Cup win, it might have been Tannadice that hosted lower league football the following campaign, but Hibernian did their best to relegated United – by beating them in all 3 league meetings that season (2-0, 4-1 and 3-2)

Vital Quotes:

Manager Craig Levein wants his side to build on last weekends 1-0 win at Love Street and a win over John Collin`s side would be crucially important if Dundee United are to achieve a top 6 place this season.

A 16 points advantage over Dunfermline means that relegation is unlikely to threaten United this season – but Levein has now set his sights on a place in the top 6, with 6th placed Kilmarnock currently just 6 points ahead in the SPL table.

Levein has had his spies keeping an eye on Hibs in preparation for this match and thinks he has a good idea about how they will approach the game.

‘I have three separate reports on them sitting on my desk so I know what to expect from them,’ admitted Levein.

Dundee Utd Team News:

Incredibly, Levein will have defender Lee Mair available again, after his quick recovery from a knee ligament injury which it was thought would keep him out for another 3 or 4 weeks.

Whilst, defender Christian Kalvenes is also reported to have recovered from a knee injury, but Steven Robb is a doubt with a calf problem.

Player to watch: Barry Robson

A 3 match SPL suspension hasn’t affected captain Barry Robson too badly, after his inspiring return to the Dundee United 1st team at Love Street last weekend.

Robson scored a 78th minute wonderstrike to secure all 3 points in a 1-0 win, which saw Dundee United dominate for most of the match – just struggling to breakdown a stubborn Saint Mirren defence.

Hibernian Team News:

Hibs will be without Ivan Sproule(suspended) and Merouane Zemmama(hamstring), but Robb Jones returns to the squad after suspension, along with defender Steven Whittaker and striker Ross Campbell who have recovered from groin strains.

Player to watch: Abdessalam Benjelloun

The Moroccan forward had several chances to put Hibernian infront in the 1st half at Parkhead last weekend, but lacked the composure to take advantage of his opportunities.

Against a weak and inconsistent Dundee United defence, he will probably be more successful – because there is no better way to silence your critics than by scoring a hat-trick against an always obliging United side.

After failing to mark the dangermen in recent SPL encounters, hopefully Levein has made man-marking a priority during training this week…..hopefully!!!

Match Facts & Stats

Last 5 meetings:

2nd December 2006, SPL
Hibernian 2-1 Dundee United
Venue: Easter Road, Edinburgh
Referee: Steve Conroy
Attendance: 14,032
Shelton Martis (24th min og. Dundee Utd)
Robb Jones (45th min,Hibs)
Steven Fletcher (73rd min, Hibs)

10th September 2006, SPL
Dundee United 0-3 Hibernian
Venue: Tannadice Park, Dundee
Referee: Craig Thomson
Attendance: 6,387
Chris Killen (52nd min, Hibs)
Dean Shiels (81st min, Hibs)
Ivan Sproule (90th min, Hibs)

04th March 2006, SPL
Hibernian 3-1 Dundee United
Venue: Easter Road, Edinburgh
Referee: Brian Winter
Attendance: 16,266
Derek Rioran (6th min, Hibs)
Alan Archibald (25th min og, Hibs)
Chris Killen (33rd min, Hibs)
David Goodwillie (89th min, Dundee Utd)

3rd December 2005, SPL
Dundee United 1-0 Hibernian
Venue: Tannadice Park, Dundee
Referee: Brian Winter
Attendance: 7,976
Collin Samuel (61st min, Dundee Utd)

10th September 2005, SPL
Hibernian 2-1 Dundee United
Venue: Easter Road, Edinburgh
Referee: Kenny Clark
Attendance: 12,062
Grant Brebner (14th min, Dundee Utd)
Garry O’Connor (18th min pen, Hibs)
Ivan Sproule (70th min, Hibs)

Next Fixtures:

Queen of the South v Hibernian (Scottish Cup, 23rd Feb 2007)
Caley Thistle v Dundee United (SPL, 3rd March 2007)

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