DUNDEE United manager Jackie McNamara has applauded his players for their generally impressive start to the new season following their latest league win over Ross County.
Dundee United 2-1 Ross County
Scorers: Dundee United - Cifti (19), Erskine (86); Ross County - Jervis (51)
McNamara watched his side return to winning ways thanks to substitute Chris Erskine’s late winner after Jake Jervis had cancelled out Nadir Ciftci’s 19th-minute header which gave the hosts the lead.
United sit third in the Premiership table after four games, with their only defeat coming in their well-documented 6-1 hammering by champions Celtic at Parkhead the weekend before the 2-1 win over County at Tannadice.
McNamara believes his players deserve credit for the way in which they have opened proceedings under the circumstances.
He said: “It was always going to be a tough start. Playing three teams who all finished above us last season is a difficult start but we’ve coped well.
“With the obvious exception of the Celtic game, the players have played well. It’s a solid start as far as we’re concerned.
“We want to keep it going obviously and this win is a good one for us. I thought we just kept going and going which is always important in games like this. It’s about trying to improve on last season and that’s what we aim to do.”
The hosts had looked likely from the opening minutes as Ciftci’s attempted shot inside the box was blocked by Scott Boyd and the rebound fell to United captain John Rankin, whose powerful shot was turned onto the bar by Reguero.
They duly went ahead after 19 minutes after Yoann Arquin fouled Ciftci. Midfielder Paul Paton floated a free kick deep into the visitors’ penalty area and Ciftci, lurking alone at the far post, rose unchallenged to send a header back across Reguero and into the corner of the net for his first goal of the season.
The home team came close to making it 2-0 just a couple of minutes later when Ciftci unleashed a long-range effort which Reguero did well to turn round the post.
County attempted to pull themselves back on level terms when on-loan Cardiff man Filip Kiss let fly from outside the penalty area, but saw his shot ten minutes from the break blocked by United defender Callum Morris.
United made a strong start to the second half with Ciftci releasing Mackay-Steven down the left in 48 minutes, but his low effort from a tight angle hit the side-netting.
However, County hauled themselves level just minutes later. Ciftci’s shot from the edge of the area was blocked and the visitors quickly launched a counter-attack. Joe Cardle advanced towards the halfway line before passing down the left to Graham Carey who, in turn, crossed for Jake Jervis to calmly side-foot home from eight yards, unchallenged by any United defender.
County missed a great chance to go ahead on the hour. Cardle passed to Uros Celcer, whose cross was met by Yoann Arquin – but he headed wide with the goal at his mercy.
In the 77th minute, Jervis had a golden opportunity to give his team the lead – but from close range he volleyed well over from Carey’s cross with only Cierzniak to beat.
It proved costly when Erskine won the points with three minutes left, lashing the ball home from ten yards after Reguero could only half-punch Gary Mackay-Steven’s corner clear. County manager Derek Adams, however, remained positive despite suffering four straight defeats. He said: “It’s hard to take but it’s not the end of the world. I’ve been generally pleased with how we have been playing. We just have to keep our heads up and keep doing what we’re good at.”