Noel Hunt 3-1 Caley
9th December 2006 (3pm kickoff)
Inconsistency - it has plagued Dundee United for many years, but under Craig Levein there are positive signs that things are changing for the better.
Away from home Dundee United have been struggling for points - losing the last 5 SPL away matches on the trot - but at Tannadice the results have been more encouraging and the win over Inverness Caley Thistle secured an impressive 4th consecutive home victory.
Before Craig Levein arrived the United team would never have recovered from losing an early goal, but even after Barry Wilson's 15th minute opening goal for Caley, United never gave up and forced their way back into the match thanks to goals from Noel Hunt & David Robertson.
Noel Hunt has steadily improved in recent months and put in a man-of-the-match performance against Caley, scoring twice and setting up the chance for youngster David Robertson to secure the 3-1 win for United.
Although, there were doubts that Noel Hunt would be fit enough to make the match, after missing the Hibernian(a) game through a hamstring injury, but fortunately for United he pulled through just in time to take his spot in the starting line-up.
Both David McCracken and Garry Kenneth were fully fit and had been training all week ahead of the match, but Craig Levein decided to stick with the same defence that lost 2 goals at Easter Road - with birthday boys Lee Mair & Alan Archibald being given the nod over McCracken & Kenneth.
Lee Mair turned 26 on the day of the match, whilst Alan Archibald celebrated his 29th birthday just a few days later, so a victory & a clean-sheet over Charlie Christie`s side seemed like the ideal birthday present.
Unfortunately, United couldn`t manage that clean sheet after Barry Wilson put his side 1-0 ahead with a superb curling freekick in the 15th minute.
Collin Samuel`s badly timed tackle at the edge of the penalty box gave Caley Thistle the freekick just 15 yards out and Wilson capitalised by curling his effort into the top corner of Derek Stillie`s goal.
Dundee United had looked to be in control of the match and some would have expected the heads to go down after Caley had scored against the run of play, but the United side continued to pressurise the away defence and managed to find a deserved equaliser only 7minutes later.
In the 22nd minute, Craig Conway found enough space to get a cross into the box and Noel Hunt headed the ball past Mark Brown to bring the score back to 1-1.
Caley Thistle had a couple of chances to re-take the lead, but their best was a John Rankin freekick that Derek Stillie could only watch as it curled just wide of the post.
Although, it was United who continue to cause most of the problems for Caley, with Barry Robson & Craig Conway exploiting every opportunity to get a ball into the box, but it wasn`t until after the hour mark that Noel Hunt got the chance to put United 2-1 ahead.
David Robertson had a shot on goal, which the Caley keeper knocked behind and from the resultant Barry Robson corner, Noel Hunt scored again from close range to make it 2-1.
Concentration has let United down in the past, when lapses have allowed opposition sides back into the match, but the home side weren`t going to let Caley back into this one and pushed forward looking for a killer 3rd.
With just 10minutes remaining United found the goal which secured all 3 points, when Noel Hunt rushed forward and cut the ball back perfectly for David Robertson to place United 3-1 infront.
Caley had a great chance to pull a goal back when they were awarded a soft penalty, but Craig Dargo blasted it and any chances of a late comeback over the bar.
Dundee United 3-1 Inverness Caley Thistle