Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara described teenage full-back Andrew Robertson as a “revelation” after another eye-catching display was capped off with his first goal for the Tannadice club.
Robertson’s superb solo effort was not enough to earn all three Premiership points for United against Motherwell, who settled a 2-2 draw on Tayside after an even more spectacular effort from Lionel Ainsworth.
But McNamara was left purring with satisfaction at the contribution of 19-year-old Robertson, whose praises were chanted throughout by the home support. The manager said: “It’s there for everyone to see how good Andrew is. You heard the United fans singing his name today.
“It’s not just his goal today, it is his performances since he came here. He has been a revelation and he is getting better and better.
“I’m surprised in a certain way at how quickly he has settled in at this level but, once you work with him on a daily basis, you see what focus he has. He has got a steely determination which he has shown since day one at pre-season training. He is a very intelligent and level-headed lad too.”
Robertson had just one season of first-team football with Queen’s Park, where he also worked on the Hampden staff organising cup finals and big events, before joining United in the summer.
“I’m happy the fans have accepted me and that’s the loudest I’ve heard them singing my name,” said Robertson. “I always felt I could make the step up to this level but it’s probably happened sooner than I expected. I knew I had it in me and I’m glad I’ve started off well at United.”
McNamara, who was without Gary Mackay-Steven because of a groin injury, was frustrated by his team’s slow start to the match as they fell behind to Henri Anier’s fourth goal of the season.
But his outlook brightened greatly when Nadir Ciftci and Robertson hit back to put the hosts in front.
“Motherwell were better than us in the first half,” admitted McNamara. “They dominated us a little bit and I was disappointed at our defending of simple balls in the air.
“In saying that, we did have a couple of good chances to score in the first half. In the second half, we got at Motherwell and caused them a lot of problems.”
Winger Ainsworth, signed recently on a short-term loan from Rotherham United having played for an astonishing 12 clubs in England, is keen to build on the impact he made yesterday by securing a longer stay with Motherwell.
“I’m here until January but I’d like to extend it,” said the 25-year-old. “It’s a great club with a good manager. I’m here to enjoy it. Hopefully, I can do even more of that with Motherwell. I’ve been here a few weeks now and settled in nicely.
“It’s been hard trying to settle at one club. I’ve had injuries, contracts have run out and not been renewed. I’ve been unfortunate with managers who have been playing me getting sacked. It’s just the business we are in.”
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall had kept tabs on Ainsworth since coming across him during his time at Bradford City.
“He actually tore us to shreds once when I was Bradford manager,” said McCall. “He’s had a lot of clubs, but good managers like Lee Clark at Huddersfield and Aidy Boothroyd at Watford have signed him for transfer fees in the past. He gives us an outlet on the right with his pace and he crosses a good ball as well.”
McCall had mixed emotions over a result which extended his team’s unbeaten league run to four games. “I might feel differently when I reflect on it later, but my initial reaction is one of disappointment,” he said. “I’m not saying it is two points thrown away, because that’s being unkind to United. But I felt at half-time we had stopped their good players playing, we were relatively in control and looked dangerous at times.
“But the two goals we lost were so disappointing. For the second one, we have let the young lad Robertson run 50 yards. It was a good finish, but we’ve got to close the ball down.
“So I was disappointed the way we let them back into it at the start of the second half. We certainly deserved to get the equaliser. Overall, a point from Tannadice with the form United have been in is acceptable.”