Dundee United 1 - 3 Hamilton: United on brink of relegation

Dundee United captain Paul Paton cuts a dejected figure as he takes off his captain band at full time. Picture: SNS
Dundee United captain Paul Paton cuts a dejected figure as he takes off his captain band at full time. Picture: SNS
  • Dundee United scorer: Murray 89
  • Hamilton Accies scorers: Gillespie 12, Morris 52, 73
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The Tannoy man played M People’s Search for the Hero before kick-off and got possibly the most abject performance of this sorry season at Tannadice in return.

The doomsday scenario for Dundee United remains very much alive; relegation being confirmed up the road at Dens Park next Monday night, live on television.

Four games left and still eight points adrift of 11th-placed Kilmarnock, even these United players seem resigned to their fate. They had the chance to improve their situation yesterday but fell desperately short.

The biggest surprise was that they managed to score, substitute Simon Murray’s deflected consolation generating one of the most subdued responses to a home goal heard here.

When everyone expected United to emerge all guns blazing, having noted the favourable result in the Highlands earlier in the afternoon, Hamilton dominated from start to finish.

Manager Mixu Paatelainen later said he could not believe what was unfolding in front of him as Hamilton took a stranglehold on the game from the opening minutes.

Granted, Hamilton had their own reasons for wanting all three points. They knew that a win would draw them further from the play-off zone, occupied by Kilmarnock. But considering their plight, United’s lack of fight was unforgivable. Too many of their players looked as if they had already run up the white flag.

Paatelainen later admitted the end of the season cannot come quickly enough for some of them.

“Certain individuals will now find it hard to lift themselves so, from that respect, yes, it would be good if the end of the season came sooner rather than later,” he said, damningly, afterwards.

Kilmarnock’s defeat by Inverness meant United were looking to cut the gap at the bottom to a bridgeable five points. But they never looked like securing even a draw to make up at least some ground.

There was, though, one defining moment of the game that went against them, underlining that this has been a season of almost unrelenting torment.

Although Hamilton were clearly the better side, they had just a rare goal from Grant Gillespie, expertly struck from outside the box nevertheless, to show for it. So when Billy Mckay was presented with a chance to level the score after his own header rebounded off a post, it was a potentially game-changing moment.

But the striker’s second effort four minutes after half-time was brilliantly saved on the line by his Northern Irish team-mate Michael McGovern, and the visitors scored a crucial second four minutes later, through Carlton Morris.

Dougie Imrie’s cross from the right was headed against the bar by Greg Docherty and Morris headed in the rebound.

Paatelainen replaced the anonymous Ryan Dow with Edward Ofere, who looked out of touch to say the least, with Guy Demel dropping back from midfield to centre-half. Fans will rightly wonder why Demel didn’t start there after looking more at home in the middle of defence against Hibs the previous weekend.

Not that his re-deployment after half-time made much difference to the result. Indeed, Demel was out-muscled by Morris, who shovelled the ball wide to Ali Crawford, in the run-up to Hamilton’s third goal after 74 minutes.

Morris finished well after Crawford’s shot was palmed into his path by Eiji Kawashima, who should have coped better with the situation.

Jeers filled the arena as United sloped back to the halfway line to kick-off again. The home team’s body language spoke of all not being well at the club. Hamilton were hunting in packs, with as many as three players chasing down a United player with the ball. Their hosts, meanwhile, were standing around with shoulders slouched.

United did summon up a goal in the 89th minute scored by substitute Murray, who showed more willingness in his ten-minute cameo than many of his team-mates did in the entire game.

Referee: S McLean

Attendance: 5,884

DUNDEE UNITED: Kawashima, Dixon, Durnan, Dillon, Knoyle, Rankin, Paton, Demel, Dow (Ofere 46), Fraser (Spittal 79), McKay (Murray 80). Subs not used: Erskine, Anier, Donaldson, Zwick.

HAMILTON: McGovern, Kurakins, Tagliapietra, Devlin, Gordon, Docherty, MacKinnon, Gillespie, Imrie (Kurtaj 78), Crawford (Redmond 76), Morris (Diaby 81). Subs not used: Canning,Martin,Boyd,Hughes