It all looked so good after Spenny scored in 11 minutes. We dominated the first half but paid the price of a late equaliser as we failed to kill off the much poorer opposition. A gutted Davies said, "I think we should be disappointed - the header they scored with was meant to be across the goals".
This bottom of the table clash was too early in the season to be labelled a relegation crunch. However, the result will give heart to both sides and they will hope to improve as the season progresses.
The game started in perfect conditions. It was a wee bit overcast but the pitch was in top nick. Ouiefio Ange was given his first competitive start while new signing Scott Leitch made it to the bench. But the names which gave the travelling support the biggest reason for optimism were Spencer and Goodman. Some pretty football in the opening games had brought a return of no points and no goals. With over twenty goals between them last season it was understandable that the 'Well fans were hopeful of getting their first win of the season. Billy Davies continued with the 'Studs isn't a defender' experiment and he played on the left of midfield. This allowed Stevie Hammell to continue at left back and Davies reaped praise on the youngster after the match: "He was outstanding today again, the young kid has a great future in the game".
'Well fans in the Fair Play Stand were shocked to see the team emerge a new black and white outfit that brought memories of Ayr Utd flooding back. The new kit didn't seem to affect the players though and after a couple of close things we took the lead in twelve minutes. Ged Brannan played a long ball which caught the Dundee Utd defence square. After beating Alan Combe in a race, John Spencer flicked the ball past him to send the away support wild.
Alex Mathie blasted a spectacular overhead kick into the stand but only after Brannan had a shot saved and Spenny was twice denied by some great goalkeeping and defending. The last chance of the half fell to Lee McCulloch but after good work from Studs, he could only shoot weakly at the 'keeper.
Within a minute of the restart, Paul Harvey forced a good save from Alan Combe but for the rest of the half Utd had more of the ball. This was a complete contrast to the first half where we dominated the whole forty-five minutes. Despite the possession however, Andy Goram never looked threatened. Lee McCulloch sclaffed a shot/cross into the arms of Combe and this seemed to kick start Utd. McConalogue had a header tipped over the bar before Utd got a scarcely deserved equaliser. Stevie Hammell and McMillan got into a bit of a fankle and allowed a cross to go into the box. It was met at full pelt by Jim Paterson who in attempting to head back across the goal, inadvertently found the inside of the far post. Paterson later had the decency to admit it was a fluke and Billy Davies claimed he could "head another hundred balls like that and not score" - he is probably right.
The equaliser sparked a dramatic finish with Paterson having a good run and shot before Lee McCulloch forced yet another great save from Combe. With just seconds to go, McCulloch found space in the box from the resulting corner and controlled well before assaulting the seats in the back of the Shed.
It was a decent performance by us and we deserved three points. We failed to kill the game off with a second goal and were punished by a hard-working if spectacularly uncreative Utd side.
Dundee United 1 Motherwell 1
12 August 2000