Writer: Arab Jacques
Date:Sunday February 11 2007
Love Street, Paisley
Dundee United have experienced a stuttery start to 2007, but finally managed to kick-start the year with a 1-0 win over Saint Mirren at Love Street.
A thunderbolt from the left-foot of captain Barry Robson in the 78th minute gave Craig Levein's side their first SPL win since beating Aberdeen 3-1 at Tannadice on the 30th of December.
Saint Mirren boss Gus MacPherson must be fed-up of seeing Tangerine this season, with Dundee United winning all 4 encounters between the 2 sides - 3 wins in the SPL, 1 in the Scottish Cup.
Craig Levein missed the creativity of Barry Robson in previous league matches, with the 28-year-old returning to United's starting line-up after serving a 3 match SPL suspension
Defender Steven Robb also returned the squad, after a chiropractor diagnosed the source of his recent hamstring problems as a pelvic tilt, with the 24-year-old coming off the bench to replace Craig Conway in the 62minute of the match.
Midfielder Morgaro Gomis & attacker Noel Hunt were also given starting berths in Levein's side, with attacking duo John Daly and Collin Samuel dropped to the bench.
It was Barry Robson & Steven Robb that combined to find the winning goal in the 78th minute, when Robson collected a pass from Robb on the right wing, before cutting inside and sending a 25-yard rocket into the top-left corner of Chris Smith's net.
That strike made Robson the club's new top goalscorer, at the expense of Noel Hunt who had also returned to Craig Levein's starting line-up for just the 2nd time since recovering from an ankle injury.
Noel Hunt had several chances to kick-start his season, including a great opportunity in the 28th minute when he found space inside the penalty box, but couldn't connect properly with Barry Robson's cross and his header flew wide of the right-hand post.
St Mirren thought they had scored just 2 minutes later, when Stephen O'Donnell volleyed the ball into the back of Derek Stillie's net - but the assistant referee had his offside flag up.
Then a Christian Kalvenes cross gave Noel Hunt a great chance with a header, but he directed it straight at the keeper and Chris Smith held the ball.
In the 35th minute, Lee Wilkie denied the Saints an opening goal, when he had to head the ball off his own goal-line after Ian Maxwell's header from a corner kick.
Barry Robson headed over from a Craig Conway cross, then Conway himself had an effort but shot straight at the Buddies goalie.
Dundee United completely dominated the 2nd half, but were finding it hard to break down a stubborn home defence.
David Robertson had a long range effort that went wide, whilst Robson also went close with another header, but he headed it straight at keeper Smith.
In the closing stages of the match, Noel Hunt should have put the result beyond doubt, but his close-range effort was saved by the feet of Chris Smith.
There is no doubt that Dundee United would have won far more convincingly if it wasn't for Chris Smith in the Saint Mirren goal, but once again it was United's failure to take their chances that almost cost the game.
Striker Noel Hunt is still struggling to get off the mark after returning from injury, but luckily captain Barry Robson was in inspired form once again and determined to payback the club for rewarding him with a new contract last week.
Saint Mirren 0-1 Dundee United
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Date:Sunday February 11 2007
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