Writer: Arab Jacques
Date:Tuesday January 16 2007
Craig Levein sorely missed suspended captain Barry Robson against Rangers Saturday, because his energy, drive and dangerous delivery from set-pieces could have made the difference between the humiliating 5-0 result and Dundee United making more of a game of it.
Barry Robson is Dundee United's 2nd top goal-scorer, with 7 goals in 22 SPL matches so far this season, but he has also been responsible for setting up many of the clubs 28 SPL strikes - with his accurate delivery into the box.
He scored twice in Dundee United's 3-1 victory at Love Street earlier in the campaign, which was one of only 2 SPL wins under Craig Brewster's leadership.
However, the 28-year-old is currently in the middle of a 3 game suspension for amassing too many disciplinary points earlier in the season, after picking up 4 yellow and 1 red card in league matches.
Robson has already missed the 5-0 defeat at Ibrox, but must also sit-out the trip to Kilmarnock next week and the Dunfermline match at Tannadice on the 27th of January.
Luckily for Dundee United, this suspension is only from League competition, which means that the club captain will be available for the re-scheduled St Mirren Scottish Cup clash on Tuesday night.
The match was originally scheduled to be played at Tannadice on the 7th of January, but the SFA postponed the match by 9 days because Dundee United informed them they would struggle to put out a full squad - due to a flu bug which had hit at least 9 of Levein's 1st team squad.
Illness combined with injury, players out on loan and the entire youth squad away training in Cyprus, meant Levein didn't have enough players to take on St Mirren in the Scottish Cup - even though Saints boss Gus MacPherson was highly critical of the SFA's decision to postpone the tie.
Most of Dundee United's 1st team squad have now recovered from the bug, but they will still have to performance a lot better than they didn't against Rangers 3 days earlier - if United are to progress into the next round of the competition.
A trip to Inverness to play Charlie Christies' Caley Thistle side awaits the winner of the match, but a draw after 90minutes would result in a replay at Love Street.
Midfielder David Robertson thinks Dundee United desperately need a good result against Saint Mirren to kick start their season again, after their last two very disappointing SPL outings.
"The last two results have been surprising given how well we'd been doing since the manager came in," Robertson told the Courier.
"It's the first time I've seen that side of the manager, but he was quite right because results like these aren"t good enough."
"We have to take the opportunity this Scottish Cup tie presents to win back his respect. We cannot lose three on the trot - we need to redeem ourselves."
Last season Dundee United lost 3-2 in the 3rd round of the Scottish Cup against Aberdeen, despite being 2-0 up after 25minutes.
However, the previous season, it was a great Scottish Cup run under Gordon Chisholm which many Dundee United supporters think saved the club from relegation.
Robertson continued, "Everybody at the club is wanting the kind of run we had with Gordon Chisholm when we made it all the way to the final."
"That season was funny because we were fighting relegation all season yet reached the semis of the CIS Cup under Ian McCall and then the final of the Scottish Cup under Gordon."
"There's no reason why we cannot make it to Hampden again this year, we are certainly due a cup run."
"The last couple of results have been very disappointing, but the confidence is still there. We just need a steady half or 30 minutes against St Mirren to get us back on track."
Meanwhile, Craig Levein praised the job that Gus MacPherson is doing at Love Street, claiming his continuity of team selection was paying off for the Saints boss.
"Gus (MacPherson) has them playing well and a lot of that is down to having built a settled side."
"Teams who know each other's game and are used to playing together generally pick up points other sides won't get."
"Continuity of selection and having an understanding in vital areas of the pitch is a massive factor in football and that's something St Mirren have."
Top scorer Noel Hunt has recovered from the ankle injury that kept him out for 4 weeks, but his lack of competitive football showed when he came on for Collin Samuel in the 2nd half at Ibrox.
New signing Sean Dillon can't play, because he wasn't signed before the deadline for the original tie, but Jon Daly and Morgaro Gomis might have some involvement in the team, after Craig Levein promised major changes following the 5-0 defeat at the weekend.
Captain Barry Robson and Lee Mair are also available after suspension. Christian Kalvenes(knee) and Steven Robb(back) are definitely out.
Despite being out for 4 weeks, United's top goalscorer feeds off the great crosses from Barry Robson and Craig Conway on the wings.
He has 8 goals already this season, including a winning strike against St Mirren the last time the sides met in the SPL at the end of November.
Hunt's 64th minute winner gave Dundee United a 1-0 at Tannadice on the 26th of November and was one of a handful of goals the 24-year-old scored before his injury against Motherwell in December.
5 goals in 5 games before his absence, including a double against Inverness Caley Thistle, mean that St Mirren are likely to keep a close eye on the United player - even if he's not fully fit at the moment.
Saint Mirren are having a mini selection crisis of their own at the moment, infact it wouldn't be a surprise if they appealed to the SFA to have the game postponed this time themselves.
Hugh Murray(fractured cheek-bone), Craig Molloy(foot), Iain Anderson(ankle), Alex Burke(hamstring), Brian McGinty and Billy Mehmet(groin) are already out of the trip to Tannadice.
However, the good news for boss Gus MacPherson is that both midifielder Simon Lappin and forward Stewart Kean are available again after injury.
9 goals already this season, make Saint striker John Sutton the man to watch out for in the Scottish Cup tie.
The 23-year-old hasn't scored since before Christmas, but that's probably more to do with Saint Mirren's last 2 matches being cancelled than anything else.
With the original Dundee United match postponed and the SPL game against Motherwell called off at the weekend because of a water-logged pitch, the Love Street side havent played since a 1-1 draw with Caley Thistle on New Years day.
Sutton hasn't been on the score sheet since netting Saints consolation goal in a 5-1 defeat by Hibernian on the 23rd of December.
"Up front John Sutton is a real danger and a player we need to keep a close eye on," said Craig Levein.
Last 3 meetings:
26th November 2006, SPL
Dundee United 1-0 St Mirren
Venue: Tannadice, Dundee
Referee: Brian Winter
Noel Hunt (64th min, Dundee Utd)
26th August 2006, SPL
St Mirren 1-3 Dundee United
Venue: Love Street, Paisley
Barry Robson (12th min, Dundee Utd)
Stuart Duff (34th min, Dundee Utd)
Garry Brady (48th min, St Mirren)
Barry Robson (53rd min, Dundee Utd)
23rd April 2001, SPL
St Mirren 2-1 Dundee United
Venue: Love Street, Paisley
Referee: Hugh Dallas
Steven Thompson (53rd min, Dundee Utd)
Richard Gillies (70th min, pen, St Mirren)
Richard Gillies (90th min, St Mirren)
Dundee United are a very inconsistent side at the best of times, but after the last 2 defeats, not many United supporters are 100% confident of victory over Saint Mirren.
Infact, I don't want to jinx United by making any sort of prediction, other than it will be a very hotly contested Scottish cup tie on a very cold Dundee evening!!!
Saint Mirren vs Celtic (20th January 2007, SPL)
Kilmarnock vs Dundee United (20th January 2007, SPL)
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Date:Tuesday January 16 2007
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