Paul Watson urges Dundee United to make sure of second place

Dundee United's Paul Watson. Picture: Ross MacDonald/SNS
Dundee United's Paul Watson. Picture: Ross MacDonald/SNS
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Paul Watson will never forget Falkirk falling flat on their faces in the 2016 play-off final, so is urging Dundee United not to run out of steam like the Bairns did.

The Tannadice defender was part of that Falkirk side who were denied a place back in the Premiership as they crashed at the final hurdle against Kilmarnock. Falkirk had taken a hard-earned 1-0 lead from the home tie into the return leg at Rugby Park only for it to go horribly wrong, with Killie winning 4-0.

Watson, 28, has told Robbie Neilson’s United they must secure second-top slot ahead of tonight’s visit of third-placed Ayr United who sit six points behind the Tangerines, with a game in hand.

Watson said: “I lost in the final with Falkirk which wasn’t a good experience. It’s a hard way to go up. Let’s be honest, you’re up against it because it’s all built around the Premiership team staying up. Second is so important.”

Finishing runners-up to champions elect Ross County would mean two fewer play-off games. But United have already lost three times to Ayr this season, including a 5-0 thumping at Tannadice, and could face them all over again in the play-offs.

“We’ve not beaten them this season and it would be good to put a marker down if it is to be the play-offs,” Watson added. “No-one wants to lose to Ayr again.”

Ayr manager Ian McCall, meanwhile, has no issue about fielding Liam Smith against United at Tannadice despite reports of the former Hearts full-back signing a pre-contract deal with United.

McCall said: “We knew of interest in Liam from a number of clubs, but he has handled all the attention he was getting well. He has continued to play at a really high level, and I believe that he can go on and be an outstanding full-back. I have no qualms at all in playing him but all I would say it is an interesting time for the story to come out.

“Perhaps we should take it as a compliment.”

Aaron Muirhead is available again for Ayr after a calf problem but Jamie Adams is out due to a knee knock. United striker Osman Sow could return from a calf injury.