A dramatic last-gasp winning goal from David Robertson saved Dundee United’s blushes and prevented Saint Mirren from taking the Scottish Cup match to a replay at Love Street.
Dundee United were 2-0 up with 15minutes remaining, but it looked like the game was going to end in a draw after a controversial penalty in the 76th minute and an equaliser from John Sutton 5minutes later.
However – with the match deep into injury time – Collin Samuel only just managed to keep the ball in play on the left-wing, before passing it to Craig Conway, who in turn set-up David Robertson with a shot from 18-yards out.
The youngster struck a right-foot shot which flew into the bottom of Tony Bullock’s net, to give Dundee United a 3-2 win and a trip to Inverness to play Caley Thistle in the 4th round of the competition.
After Saturday’s abysmal result against Rangers, Levein had threatened major changes to his side, with David McCracken, Stuart Duff and Greg Cameron bounced straight out of the starting line-up.
Sean Dillon was also absent, since the former Shelbourne defender was ineligible to play, as was Lee Wilkie who has just returned from a 1-month loan at 1st division Ross County.
Lee Mair went straight back into the side, after sitting out his one game suspension at Ibrox, whilst club captain Barry Robson also made it back into Levein’s team – although he will miss United’s next 2 SPL ties also through suspension.
17-year-old Keith Watson was the shock inclusion in the Levein’s starting eleven, along with Alan Archibald, whilst new signing Jon Daly made his home debut upfront.
A disappointing crowd of just over 4,000 saw Dundee United start the brightest, but it was the visitors that had the ball in the back of the net in the 12th minute.
Dangerman John Sutton headed into the net, after getting onto the end of a Mark Corcoran cross, but the far side assistant referee correctly ruled it offside.
The was also a bizarre moment in the 1st half, when Saint Mirren claimed Derek Stillie had handled outside the penalty area, after his momentum carried him and the ball over the line.
However, the United goalie dropped the ball when he realised he was going to fall outside the area, but unfortunately he landed ontop of the ball – though it appears that it was only his chest that made any contact with the ball.
To make matters worse, Stillie then stood up and kicked the ball back inside the area, before picking it up – with the Saint Mirren players appealing for an indirect freekick, but referee Charlie Richmond waved play on.
Dundee United took the lead through a Barry Robson free-kick in the 31st minute, after Mark Corcoran brought down Craig Conway around 30-yards from goal.
Captain Robson stepped up to curl the ball past former United keeper Tony Bullock, his 8th goal of the season, making him the clubs joint top goalscorers – along with Noel Hunt, who also has 8 goals this season.
Just seconds after the restart it was 2-0, after a Craig Conway corner was swung into the back post, where Gary Kenneth found space to header into the top of Bullock’s net.
However, a problem with Dundee United this season has been an inability to hold onto leads and losing concentration late in the game?.
At Parkhead – United were leading 2-0 with just 10minutes remaining, and goals from O’Dea and Nakamura ended in a 2-2 draw.
At East End Park, a 1-0 lead ended up in a 2-1 defeat after goals from Dunfermline’s Greg Shields and Gary Mason late on.
At Fir Park, United were 2-0 infront with only 30 minutes remaining, but allowed Motherwell back into the match – with goals from Mark Reynolds & Ritchie Foran.
Fortunately on that occasion, a late strike from Noel Hunt gave Levein’s side a 3-2 win, but at the expense of losing Noel Hunt for 4 weeks with an ankle injury after he landed awkwardly when scoring the winning goal.
At Tannadice on Tuesday night, Dundee United looked comfortable with their 2 goal cushion, but Saint Mirren made a dramatic late comeback, spurred on by a dodgy penalty decision by referee Charlie Richmond in the 76th minute.
Jon Daly appeared to have been fouled by Kirk Broadfoot, but the decision went against new signing Daly, when the referee pointed to the penalty spot – allowing Richard Britton the chance to pull one back, slotting into the bottom left-hand corner of Stillie’s goal.
Saint Mirren lifted by the goal, pushed forward and in the 80th minute John Sutton received a pass from Kirk Broadfoot on the left, before curling a shot past Stillie from 20-yards.
Just as the match looked to be heading to a replay at Love Street the following week, David Robertson popped up to spoil Saint Mirren’s party and knock the Paisley side out of the Scottish Cup
Dundee United 3-2 Saint Mirren