SPFL shootout for a European place now on - but United and Hearts was a great advert says Liam Fox

Dundee United assistant manager Liam Fox described the situation in the middle of the Premiership as “shootout football” after his side dropped from fourth place to seventh following the concession of a late equaliser against Hearts.

Dundee United manager Thomas Courts is booked by referee Willie Collum.  (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Dundee United manager Thomas Courts is booked by referee Willie Collum. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

The hosts had done well to overcome the loss of an early opener from Liam Boyce. A stunning strike from Liam Smith seconds into the second half and Nicky Clark’s penalty saw United in front before Craig Halkett’s header with nine minutes left secured a point for the visitors, who were forced into making five substitutions due to injury.

It was heated on and off the park with Tam Courts, the Dundee United manager, receiving a yellow card from referee Willie Collum.

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“It wasn’t spiky on the touchline, it’s really just two sets of staff who want to win,” explained Fox. “Tam said he was likely to get booked, but it’s part and parcel of the game and shows we are together.”

United slipped from sitting fourth at one stage to seventh as the race for a top six place heats up. They have three games left before the split and can still entertain thoughts of a return to Europe.

“It’s shootout football between now and the end of the season, it’s so tight,” said Fox. “If we can get the same attitude and application we have had in the past we’ll give ourselves a good chance.

“But there are plenty of other teams in the same position who will be thinking the same.

"So many things happened in the game, substitutions, incidents, fouls - I thought it was a great advert!" he added.

“It was two teams having a go at each other with plenty to play for. There may be a case for something our way and I’m sure Hearts would say there were things they were not happy about.”

United lost skipper Ryan Edwards with a cut to his head shortly before half-time after he was caught by an elbow from Ellis Simms, who was booked. "Ryan has a sore face but he’s a big, tough Scouser so he’ll be fine - you don’t need to worry about him,” said Fox.

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