Hibs 3, Dundee Utd 1; March 4, 2006
WITH Garry O’Connor in the process of sealing his lucrative transfer to Russia, this match was supposed to be a way of seeing how Hibs would cope without the striker. As it turned out, with Derek Riordan and the recently -recruited Chris Killen in the mood to torment defenders, they looked in good shape.
Ex-Hibee Craig Brewster went into the match still searching for his first win as Dundee United manager and from the sixth minute, it was pretty evident that he would still be waiting come the 90th. Riordan opened the scoring in the sixth minute, when Kevin Thomson danced through a couple of tangerine-shirted players on the edge of the box to square him the ball and the club’s top scorer hit a shot low into the bottom right corner of Craig Samson’s goal.
From then on, it seemed as if United were merely seeing out the remaining 84 minutes, trying to sustain as little damage as possible. Hibs grabbed their second of the match in the 25th minute after Alan Archibald’s kamikaze header from a Riordan delivery.
The United captain, at the back post, headed his ‘clearance’ into the roof of the net rather than over the bar. While the ball was delivered with pace and Killen was lurking with intent in behind him, it was still a moment of madness. Killen only compounded United’s misery when he ran on to an exquisite long-range Riordan ball in the 32nd minute and, from a tight angle, he made a mockery of the attentions of Garry Kenneth and Archibald to finish clinically. Substituted in the 75th minute, Riordan received a standing ovation from fans appreciative of his contribution. And he even drew praise from Brewster.
That’s more than could be said for most of his own players. While 16-year-old David Goodwillie came on and became the youngest player to have ever scored in the SPL, and fellow substitutes Collin Samuel and David Robertson were given credit for injecting a modicum of cut and thrust into the team, the less said about the others in tangerine the better. Mark Kerr had blown a gilt-edged chance to reduce the deficit and allied to the slack defence, it’s little wonder Brewster looked so downbeat and promised sweeping changes in personnel come the summer. He described the first-half defending as the worst endured in his managerial career. It was a horribly difficult afternoon for those of a United persuasion to endure and while Goodwillie managed a goal with two minutes to go, it took three attempts to finish it and it would be a stretch to label it any sort of consolation.
Samuel had the first dig but found the bar, Robertson tried to bury the rebound but was denied by the post and it was eventually up to the youngster to make history.