Craig Brown was able to field his top eleven and the team that whipped Hearts a fortnight ago ran out in the Dundee sunshine to face a United team still on a high following their midweek cup triumph over Rangers.
We started the game in cracking fashion. For the first fifteen minutes United were pressed back as attacks came down both wings. We forced a succession of corners and a few tempting crosses were fired low into their six yard box.
Gary Kenneth failed to realise it was Motherwell who should complain about the red card!
Bizarrely, things went wrong following Dixon’s dismissal. His assault on O’Brien caused Willie Collumn to give a straight red and we were faced with a ten man opposition. Our play faltered. Motherwell failed to take advantage and resorted to a rushed long ball game which suited the big home defenders. United, as is common when teams feel aggrieved, raised their game and took the lead in 38 minutes when a corner was headed by Webster. Goodwillie got a touch and steered it away from Ruddy.
One of many futile attacks
Our keeper had been for the most part untroubled but he played the major part in our second loss. One minute before the break Craigan delivered a decent back pass but as the keeper took his first touch the ball bobbled and Prince Bauben pounced. He was able to round the embarrassed Ruddy and stroke the ball into the empty net. It was a shocking collapse.
We made a good start to the second half as we looked calmer on the ball but Murphy's goal was disallowed due to Jutkiewicz being offside in the build up. We failed to do much against their two banks of four and brought on Humphrey for Sutton as we tried to introduce some pace to the game. The goal finally came but when it did it was against the run of play at the other end. Swanson seemed to be crowded out but still managed to get his shot away which beat Ruddy and effectively ended the tie with 15 minutes remaining.
Everyone knew we had to lose at some point but such a bad loss to a direct rival is a sore one to take. We have a winnable game next week against Falkirk and hopefully we can get our European charge back on track.