United lined up with a very experienced looking side. Paul Gallacher, Mark Wilson, Gary Bollan, Craig Easton, Billy Dodds and Owen Coyle all featured amongst the visitors starting eleven.
The game kicked off in blustery conditions and both team passed well. The short ball game was always going to be used in this fixture, as the conditions meant anything other would have been impossible. The first shot on goal came on the seventeenth minute when United full-back Mark Wilson turned a thirty yard free kick into the empty Davie Cooper stand. This seemed to give United the inspirations they need, as minutes later, a good move from the away side saw Owen Coyle’s mazy run and shot blocked well by young William Kinninburgh.
United were turning the screw, and just after the half way point in the half, ex Motherwell striker Owen Coyle netted the opener for Dundee United.
‘Well’s first real chance fell on the half hour mark. A good move down the left saw Kenny Wright at the by-line. He made his way towards goal, and with the cut-back inevitable, Paul Gallacher managed to dive and hold the attempted set-up ball.
With half time approaching, United followed the Motherwell attack with a chance of their own. Good link play from Coyle and McGowan saw the ball squared to Dodds. The striker could only manage a tame effort that sailed way wide of the left hand post.
The second half started with Motherwell looking the brighter team. Two early chances from Andy Scott caused Gallacher in the United goal no problems as he watched them both sail harmlessly over the bar.
United replied with a fantastic move down the right hand side. One touches from Dodds, Coyle, McGowan and Wilson saw the full back through on Barry John Corr. The ‘Well keeper did well to dive at the feet of the United player for the ball to spin out for a corner. From the resulting set piece, United had the ball in the net. The ball was whipped across, and was headed down into the six yard area. The away attack managed to lash the ball into the net, only for it to be disallowed for hand ball by the referee.
Both teams swapped possession and traded chances at either end. A Dodds free kick was sent narrowly wide of the right hand post, and Kenny Wright’s great work down the wide right for ‘Well was not rewarded as his low cross eluded everybody in the box.
United sealed the game near the seventieth minute, when a counter attack allowed McGowan to thread the ball through to Owen Coyle. The experienced striker took one look, and hammered the ball past the helpless Corr in the Motherwell goal.
Both teams had further chances with Bell and Easton having a header and a shot respectively going wide of the posts. Motherwell had a long range effort from Kevin Barkey held easily by Gallacher. ‘Well made a late substitution when Ryan Russell came on for Andy Scott, but it did no good as United ran out 2-0 winners.
Motherwell: Corr, Neville, Mathie, Kinninburgh, Quinn, Barkey, Fitzpatrick, McDonald, Fagen, Scott (Russell), Wright Subs: Ewings, Russell
Dundee Utd: Gallacher, Wilson, Bollan, Anderson, Gardner, Bell, Easton, Holmes, Coyle, Dodds, McGowan Subs: McCann, Jarvis, Hunter, Craig, Robertson