Dundee United 1-0 Hearts: Jambos' luck comes to an end
JOSE GONCALVES returned to the Hearts team for his first appearance since 30 December last year but could not prevent his team's recent winning sequence coming to an end.
Morgaro Gomis scored the decisive goal with the aid of a deflection 12 minutes from time after a United-dominated second half, securing a result which consolidates the Tayside club's position in third place in the SPL.
Goncalves was a surprise inclusion by visiting manager Jim Jefferies, who pledged never to select him again unless he signed a contract extension. However, the complete absence of central defenders forced his recall. Jefferies had hoped to reinstate Ismael Bouzid but the Algerian international has now injured the other hamstring from that damaged in last month's Co-operative Insurance Cup semi-final. Dawid Kucharski failed to train on Thursday and Friday and was thus ruled out, likewise Marius Zaliukas, while Eggert Jonsson served a one-match suspension.
Hearts arrived at Tannadice on the back of three consecutive victories and enjoyed a notable period of pressure early in the match. Once United settled into their rhythm they became difficult to dislodge and it was they who emerged strongest after the interval before breaking the deadlock through Gomis. Craig Conway's right-sided free-kick fell to Garry Kenneth, and his measured pass allowed Gomis to convert past Janos Balogh via a defender.
Goncalves performed admirably throughout considering he answered an SOS to play with his own thigh problem less than fully cured. He partnered Lee Wallace in the centre of a makeshift Hearts defence with Jason Thomson at right-back and David Obua left-back. There was another last-minute change after Michael Stewart sustained an injury during the warm-up and was replaced in the starting XI by Paul Mulrooney.
When proceedings began it was Hearts who initially assumed command. Suso's ninth-minute effort from 20 yards produced an impressive save from Dusan Pernis, the United goalkeeper. Seconds later, Jamie Mole sent Thomson's cross looping only narrowly wide as the visitors caused untold problems amongst the home rearguard. That said, they were slightly fortunate not be penalised for handball in their own penalty box as Obua fell on the ball whilst challenging David Goodwillie.
The entertainment continued throughout an extremely open first period. Balogh knew little about his first save of the afternoon when Kenneth struck Conway's corner off the Hearts goalkeeper. Then, as the match ebbed and flowed, Hearts poured forward once again for Mulrooney to intercept a clearance before dispatching a powerful left-footed shot which was only stopped by the fingertips of Pernis.
Goodwillie passed up the clearest opening thus far on the half-hour, with United looking considerably more assertive going forward. Supplied with the ball unmarked in the inside right channel, the young striker contrived to steer his shot wide of the Hearts goal when an attempt on target was the bare minumum expected. By the time the interval arrived, a total of 15 attempts at goal had been recorded, exemplifying the context of the fare on offer.
The second half began with Christian Nade's reappearance following an altercation with team-mate Ian Black at Celtic Park last month. He replaced Jamie Mole in attack but could not stem United's probing. From Goodwillie's 64th-minute cross, midfielder Prince Buaben powered a downward header wide of goal despite being unmarked. The same player then found himself with another priceless opening when Conway crossed into his path ten yards from goal, but the first-time shot careered off Obua and bounced wide.
On 78 minutes Hearts' resistence was breached. Conway's free-kick landed at the feet of Kenneth, who teed up Gomis to plant the ball beyond Balogh with the help of a rather cruel deflection. The celebrations amongst the United support emphasised the importance of the goal with little time for Hearts to fashion a response.
Dundee Utd (4-4-2): Pernis; Kovacevic, Kenneth, Webster, Dixon; Swanson, Conway, Gomis, Buaben, Conway; Goodwillie, Casalinuovo. Subs: Banks, Dillon 60 (for Dixon), Dods, Daly 65 (for Casalinuovo), Myrie-Williams, Robertson, Sandaza 77 (for Goodwillie).
Hearts (4-4-2): Balogh; J Thomson, L Wallace, Goncalves, Obua; Suso, Stevenson, Mulrooney, Novikovas; Mole, Elliot. Subs: Ridgers, Nade 46 (for Mole), Templeton 56 (for Novikovas), Glen, Smith 82 (for Mulrooney), D McGowan.
Referee: Mike Tumilty.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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