It was tough on Peterhead, who battled impressively and capped off a game that was bizarrely lop-sided with a feast of goals and entertainment in the first half being followed by more than an hour of tense stalemate before the former Hamilton midfielder settled matters with a close-range header.
It was probably too much to hope that both sides could sustain the unrelenting action that characterised the opening 45 minutes of this tie. If nothing else, they provided an illuminating insight into the defensive shortcomings that have afflicted the pair of them in their league campaigns to date.
Even allowing for their well-publicised porosity, however, few would have expected the scoring to have started after 59 seconds or the goal rush to be such that they were tied at 2-2 with just over half an hour gone.
Charlie Telfer triggered the mayhem with a glorious 30-yarder in the first minute, which Fraser Hobday, in the Peterhead goal, seemed to lose the flight of as it flew past him into the net to put United ahead. Fortunately for the visitors, the Tannadice men’s fateful lack of conviction at the other end was not slow in rearing its head. After Ryan Baptie fed him a delightfully weighted through ball, Rory McAllister shrugged off his marker to bury it beyond Luis Zwick.
Within the bat of an eyelid, the hosts then regained the lead and lost it again, Nick van der Velden drilling home a low shot only for the omnipresent McAllister to once more bully the United defence and bullet a header high into the net from a Leighton McIntosh cross.
The dizzying nature of the proceedings gradually subsided after the interval, although the absence of further additions to the scoreline owed little to either side discovering the art of parking the bus.
Instead, a combination of luck, last-ditch defending and the occasional fine save helped turn off the tap. Poor Simon Murray thumped the bar a couple of times, while Hobday redeemed himself with a splendid clawing stop on an effort from William Edjenguele. As the visitors clung on McAllister looked to the heavens as his hat-trick was denied by the outstretched leg of Lewis Toshney.
Considering what had gone before it seemed almost perverse that no one could prise the door open again, but with just four minutes of extra time remaining Andreu did finally get on the end of a Blair Spittal cross to beat Hobday and avoid the lottery of a shoot-out.