Sean Dillon buoyed by Dundee United's form surge

Dundee United captain Sean Dillon hopes their morale-boosting victories over Morton will more than make up for the disadvantage of finishing behind play-off opponents Falkirk.

Falkirks David McCracken, left, and Sean Dillon of Dundee United met at South Queensferry. Picture: SNS.

The Bairns edged out United into second place in the Ladbrokes Championship to earn a free week while United fought it out with Jim Duffy’s side.

But, after six unbeaten games in which they did not always make the most of their chances, United stepped up a gear against Morton by 
scoring five goals over two legs.

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Simon Murray and Blair Spittal both struck twice and Wato Kuate got his first goal for the club as United won back-to-back league games for the first time in 2017.

Dillon, speaking ahead of the play-off semi-final first leg at Tannadice, which is live on BT 
Sport 1, said: “There’s no getting away from the fact that we wanted to finish second. That hasn’t happened.

“We wanted to win the league at the start of the season and once that was out of our hands, we wanted to finish second, and it was a big disappointment not to finish second.

“Thankfully, we have managed to pick ourselves up and we’re looking at the positive side of it, and the positive side of it is that we got two wins and scored five goals. So there’s definitely positives to take from the fact we finished third.

“It’s a big bonus Blair getting a couple having been out for two weeks. Great for Simon as well getting on the scoresheet a couple of times, and Wato getting a goal as well, which will do his confidence the world of good.”

Falkirk captain David McCracken believes his side’s play-off experience will be a “massive” help when they kick off their third Premiership play-off campaign in four years.

They lost to Hamilton in the semi-finals after an epic win over Queen of the South in 2014, and then fell at the final hurdle last year against Kilmarnock after finishing above Hibernian in the league and beating Alan Stubbs’ men over two legs.

They have again confounded the odds to finish above Dundee United, and McCracken, pictured, feels their knowledge of the format could give them an edge.

“I think it’s massive,” said the 35-year-old. “It was pretty hard the way it finished last year, but it’s going to stand us in good stead knowing that it doesn’t matter really what happens in the first game, there is a lot that can happen in the second game.

“They are going to come into it buoyed, but the fact is that they have had two extra games than us. We have had a little bit of a break and time to prepare looking into these games.

“We know from the experience in the first year of the play-offs, we played those first two games and, going into the game against Hamilton on the Tuesday night, the boys were feeling it a bit.

“But their confidence will be up so we just have to see how it pans out.”

Falkirk have twice beaten United at home this season, scoring six times in the process, while the games at Tannadice have been much closer, United winning 1-0 before a 1-1 draw. So McCracken knows that there is no need to win the contest in the first leg.

“There’s been some really good games between us this year and some good performances and results from us,” he said.

“The first game is possibly about managing it and seeing where we are at the end of the 90 minutes, and going again on Friday.

“Whatever the score in the first leg, it goes to the back-burner and everything goes into the Friday.

“We know what it’s about and the management team will put certain things in place to help us with the recovery.”