For the 2nd time this season, Dundee United versus Dunfermline produced a goalless stalemate at Tannadice, after Craig Levein’s side failed to put the finishing touches to a vastly improved performance against the struggling SPL side.
The Pars hadn’t won an SPL match since beating Dundee United 2-1 at East End Park in November, a win-less run which was extended to 11 matches after the 0-0 result.
Dundee United dominated proceedings in the SPL tie, but were unable to breakdown a stubborn visiting defence, which crowded out Jon Daly and Collin Samuel upfront.
The stats from the match make interesting reading – with United having 68% of the possession, but were unable to find a reward to capitalise on their dominance.
Whilst, bottom of the table side Dunfermline couldn’t even manage a single shot on-target and becoming the first side not to score against Dundee United’s frail defence since 2007 begun.
Although – unlike Derek Stillie – goalkeeper Dorus De Vries had a busier afternoon, saving chanced from Collin Samuel, Jon Daly and Stuart Duff
Midfielder Mark Kerr made a surprise comeback from a knee injury, which he sustained against Kilmarnock the previous weekend, and took his usual place in United’s starting line-up.
Meanwhile, Noel Hunt made his first starting appearance since going off with an ankle injury against Motherwell at Fir Park in the middle of December.
David McCracken, who has been told by Craig Levein he isn’t part of his future plans at the club, made a shock return to the defence – alongside Christian Kalvenes who has just returned to the side after a knee injury and Lee Wilkie who has just returned from a 1-month loan spell with 1st division Ross County.
Dunfermline manager Stephen Kenny named no fewer that 4 former United players in his squad, with Jim Hamilton and Stevie Crawford on from the start and Jim McIntyre and Jamie McCunnie on the bench.
There were very few serious chances during the match, with Dunfermline’s best chance coming from Jim Hamilton in the 32nd minute.
Hamilton got onto the end of a James O’Brien cross, but sent his 18-yard effort high and wide of Derek Stillie’s goal.
Dundee United’s best opportunity came from Collin Samuel in the opening 5minutes of the game.
The Trinidadian received a pass from Jon Daly and found himself one-on-one with the keeper, but his eventual right-foot shot from around 12-yards was blocked by out-rushing Dorus De Vries.
Then, 2minutes later Stuart Duff had a shot from 25-yards, but De Vries got a first onto the long range effort.
Dunfermline have had several players return from injury in recent week, but just as they start to believe their injury crisis was over – they lost another 2 players during the match, with captain Greg Shields injuring himself during a late challenge on Christian Kalvenes in the 11th minute.
Then, just before half-time, disaster struck again for the Pars as influential Scott Muirhead had to be replaced by Adam Hammill in the 42nd minute.
10minutes before that, Dundee United did have the ball in the back of Dunfermline’s net, from the head of Jon Daly.
Although, it was illegally according to referee Dougie McDonald, after the whistle awarded a free-kick against Jon Daly for pushing to gain an unfair aerial advantage.
In the 64th minute, David McCracken also had a chance with his head, but the defender sent his header over the bar from 6-yards, after getting onto the end of a inswinging Stuart Duff corner kick.
There were calls for a penalty kick with 15minutes remaining, after Jon Daly appeared to have been brought down inside the area, but referee McDonald waved away the claims, after it appeared that the striker was brought down by one of his own teammates, Craig Conway.
Dundee United’s final chance of the match came in the 78th minute, after Greg Ross brought down Craig Conway outside the penalty box – with the Pars player being booked for his efforts.
From the resultant free-kick, Conway floated the ball into the area, finding David Robertson in space, but he glanced his header across the face of goal and just wide of the post.
The state of the Tannadice pitch definitely didn’t encourage free-flowing, entertaining football, but Dundee United still tried to get the ball down and play a passing game.
They pegged Dunfermline back, inside their own half, for much of the game, but were still unable to secure their first victory of 2007, with the match ending in a goalless draw.
Dundee United 0-0 Dunfermline