MATCH-WINNER Rory Boulding believes he proved a point to Kilmarnock when he fired Dundee United into the Clydesdale Bank Premier League’s top six with a last-gasp goal – at the expense of his former club.
Scorer: Dundee United - Boulding (90)
Referee: C Thomson
The striker was released by Kilmarnock in January after making just one start and four appearances following his switch from Livingston. He came back to haunt his former employers by grabbing the injury-time winner against Aberdeen that secured United the coveted final top-six berth – and dumped Kilmarnock in the bottom half of the table.
Boulding said: “I only made one start at Kilmarnock. I thought I was on great form at the end of last season and that’s why they signed me. I got there and only played one game so it was a bit disappointing.
“I was delighted to get another opportunity to come here and prove that I can score.”
A win for Kilmarnock would have sealed their place in the top six. But defeat by Dundee, thanks to a winner by another former player, Gary Harkins, meant they needed the clash at Tannadice to end all square.
Such a scenario looked likely until Boulding struck deep into injury time. He added: “I was just focused on the game. As a striker, I try to score in every game, and it’s just how it has turned out in the end with Kilmarnock.
“I heard that Gary Harkins scored against them as well. So, with us two leaving in January and then putting them in the bottom six, it is poetic. It’s unfortunate for Kilmarnock but it’s just one of those things.”
Reflecting on the dramatic winner, he said: “It was a great feeling. It’s right up there – probably number one.
“I seem to have a habit of scoring in the last minute of the game. That’s four times I’ve done it in my career and that’s the most important one yet.”
Aberdeen were also in contention for the top six, meaning a disappointing end to boss Craig Brown’s 36-year managerial career. He is now set to retire, as Derek McInnes prepares to take over the Pittodrie hotseat.
Brown said: “I’ll miss it. I’ve lived the dream. I’ve not been too emotional this week, but I think, this time next week, I’ll be wishing we had a chance to redeem ourselves and get a result that would have given everyone a lift.
“It was a good game, a tense game. A neutral would have enjoyed it. United were overjoyed. I’m just really upset that our fans were disappointed.”
He added: “I’ve been able to work with Aberdeen and I’ve had a long time in the game and I’m very grateful for that. The biggest disappointment I’ve had is that I’ve sent 3,000 or 4,000 folk up the road without what we all wanted – and that was a victory.
“The over-riding feel is disappointment for the terrific support we had.
“They were absolutely fantastic throughout the match and it was a major disappointment to send them up the road without the result that they craved and we craved.”
United manager Jackie McNamara leapt around the touchline when the goal was scored and guiding the team into the top six is a feather in his cap. He said: “It was a great feeling to score when we did. I was just delighted for everybody connected with the club. We’ve had a couple of disappointments over the last couple of weeks and today makes up for it.
“Inverness are seven points ahead of us and that’s the target now. Today was about winning and doing our jobs properly and we did that.”