Any neutrals tempted to turn up at Tannadice for what was billed as a match between two sides in top form could have been excused had they asked for a refund by the interval. It was clear within the first few minutes that Motherwell had a leaden-foot approach in mind and that the sparkling, pacy style of recent games had been left in the dressing room.
A rare first half 'Well attack
United started the better and Smith was called into action inside the first couple of minutes to push a header away with a one handed save low down to his right. We made heavy weather of any forward going play and energies were diverted into defence.
Some dithering on the eighteen yard line allowed United the best chance of the half. Robb sent through a peach of a pass to Hunt and his cut back to Kalvenes on the six yard line needed just a touch but a last gasp lunge from Jim Paterson saved the day.
Our threats on the United goal were restricted to a few hopeful crosses but Szaotuiski was not troubled.
Two minutes into the second half saw the 'Well fans on their feet when a Clarkson pass into the box released Hughes. The keeper rushed out and blocked the chip but Hughes gathered the loose ball at the dead ball line and directed an effort toward the empty goal. Gomis popped up to clear.
We produced a couple of passing moves, enough to suggest that we had stepped up a gear, but that thought soon disappeared and United came close with a couple of headers.
Clarkson should have scored with twenty minutes remaining. He and Porter had the advantage of Wilkie at the edge of the box and Porter's pass through the defender's legs allowed Clarkson to take the ball wide of the keeper. He had an open goal but his pass to the net crawled by the far post.
United got the lead in seventy eight minutes when a Robson corner was met at the back post by Dods. His header flew into the net.
The manager waited until the eighty fifth minute before making a double substitution. Clarkson and McCormack made way for Grabben and Darren Smith. O'Donnell replaced McGarry for the last two minutes.