Date: 18th November 2006 at 5:41pm
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Footballers and managers are notoriously superstitious, so after Dundee United beat Rangers 2-1 and Kilmarnock 1-0, Craig Levein decided the shirt he was wearing must be a good luck charm.

So, the same shirt made an appearance at East End Park this afternoon and for more than an hour it looked like the good luck charm was going to charm United to another important 3 points, which would have stretched the gap between the two sides at the bottom of the SPL to a significant 8 points.

However Dunfermline`s new manager Stephen Kenny (watching from the stand) had other plans and an inspired double substitution after 60 minutes changed the whole flow of the match.

Stephen Kenny sent on wide players Frederic Daquin and Scott Muirhead, allowing Dunfermline to stretched United`s back line and somehow force their way back into the match with goals from Greg Shields (76mins) and a match winner from Gary Mason (89mins) which knocked the stuffing out of United.

Dundee United lined up with the same 11 that beat Killie at Tannadice last week, with Colin Samuel left on the bench despite his match winning performance in the 2nd half against Jim Jeffries` side. Although United didn`t seem to be missing Colin Samuel`s presence from the starting line-up as they began to dominate the match and created far more clear cut chances than the home side.

Craig Conway caused a major headache for the Dunfermline defence and captain Barry Robson was the stand out player on the park most of the match, setting up chance after chance for Craig Levein`s side.

Noel Hunt should have put Dundee United ahead with a simple header in the 36th minute, after a cross from Conway gave him a great chance to score with his head, but Hunt mis-directed his header wide of the post.

Conway, Robson and Garry Kenneth all had good chances in the first half, but couldn`t find a way past Dorus De Vries in the Dunfermline goal and they were nearly made to regret their misses in the final moments of the 1st half, when Owen Morrison had a chance to put Dunfermline into an undeserved lead, but his shot went wide of the post.

In the 2nd half, Dundee United started where they left off, controlling the play and creating the better chances, and they were rewarded for their efforts after 52 minutes, when Barry Robson opened the scoring with a close range header from a Craig Conway cross.

However, United couldn`t capitalise on their dominance and find that killer 2nd goal, so when Dunfermline threw on Frederic Daquin and Scott Muirhead the home side started to push forward and the equaliser eventually came in the 76th minute.

United failed to clear the ball from a Scott Morrison corner and it allowed Greg Shields to drill the ball home from just 6 yards.

Dunfermline had a spring in their step and looked the more determined side, so when United`s defence switched off in the closing stages, it allowed Gary Mason the opportunity to put the home side 2-1 ahead from a Stevie Crawford cross.

Dundee United deserved much more from this match, but once again it was an inability to hit the back of the net that cost them. It was a much improved performance, better than even the 2nd half against Rangers, but the Pars never gave up and got the 3 points they so desperately needed.

This was the 3rd time than Dunfermline had bounced back from going behind to nick all 3 points and it means that just 4 points now separate Dundee United, Dunfermline, Motherwell and St Mirren at the bottom of the table.

Craig Levein said he would need time to turn this around at the club – Arabs thought the Rangers and Kilmarnock results were a sign of improvement at the club, but it has turned out to be a false dawn.

The United team still cant handle the pressure of being infront, cant put easy chances into the back of the net and seem incapable of playing for a full 90 minutes – how many times have United switched off in the closing stages this season?….too many!

Player Ratings

Derek Stillie
Christian Kalvenes
David McCracken
Garry Kenneth
Lee Mair
Stuart Duff
Mark Kerr
Craig Conway
Barry Robson
Noel Hunt
David Robertson

Manager Rating
7/10 Craig Levein couldn’t spur United to 3-in-a-row and will be very upset to lose 2-1 after dominating the match for so long and being 1-0 infront. The lucky shirt didnt come good this time and even Colin Samuel was unable to kill off Dunfermline when he came off the bench in the 65th minute.

Opponent Rating
5/10 Stephen Kenny made an inspired double substitution which changed the game, but ultimately Dunfermline were very lucky to take anything from this match – definitely didn`t deserve the victory.


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