Scottish Premier League
Dundee United 2-1 Rangers



Right-back Keith Watson (above centre) was surrounded by his United teammates after scoring a cracking goal


By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor from Tannadice


Dundee United saw off the challenge of Ally McCoist's spirited side to add to their recent sequence of victories over champions Rangers with a 2-1 success.

Keith Watson's stunning twenty-yard strike fired the home side ahead eight minutes before half-time to the delight of manager Peter Houston while Jon Daly, enjoying his most prolific season in the SPL, doubled the lead from close-range early in the second half. John Rankin's own goal gave Rangers hope after Sone Aluko's shot from inside the penalty area was deflected in off the Dundee United man. But they could not level and Celtic could triumph on their rivals' turf if results go their way. That situation would unfold if Motherwell drop points either this weekend against Aberdeen or before next Sunday's Old Firm derby encounter at Ibrox.

The home side were one different from the team that were trounced 4-0 by Celtic in the Scottish Cup quarter-final last weekend with the suspended Robbie Neilson, sent off in the first half of that match at Tannadice, replaced by Keith Watson at right-back while Scotland international Danny Swanson was among the substitutes having been treated for a medial ligament strain which has kept him out of action since December. Central defender Gavin Gunning was deemed fit enough to keep his place in defence despite picking up a back injury last Sunday.

Rangers were much depleted with many first-team absentees and recent redundancies starting with an eleven which made up an average age of 24. Ally McCoist was forced into fielding untrialled youngsters Rhys McCabe, Ross Perry and Andrew Mitchell while he was unable to fill a full substitutes bench. The defence was threadbare with Doran Goian and Carlos Bocanegra were suspended while Steven Whittaker, Kyle Bartley, Sasa Papac and Kirk Broadfoot all injured meaning midfielders Edu and McCulloch started in the back four. Alejandro Bedoya returned to the team while Salim Kerkar and Andrew Little continued in tandon with one another in the attack.

Ally McCoist's side were by far the most threatening in a stilted start and captain Steven Davis fed Salim Kerkar after Sean Dillon dallied on the ball. However, the French-Algerian forward minded player saw any opportunity snuffed out as Dundee United goalkeeper Dusan Pernis rushed to clear from the edge of his box with United failing to find their first gear and were almost made to pay for their lethargy early on.


Rangers had only lost one of their last seventeen league meetings with Dundee United before this game.

Kerkar was close again minutes later slalomed past the challenge of a handful of United defenders before knocking it past former Aberdeen and Blackburn defender Gavin Gunning. However, he could not direct his left-foot effort from close range on target and it squirmed yards wide.

Peter Houston's men then stunned their opponents as they took the lead with a bolt from the blue after 37 minutes. Rangers failed to deal with Paul Dixon's long throw-in into the penalty area and the ball sat up perfectly for Watson to drill past McGregor into the top right-hand corner of the net from the corner of the box.

Dundee United, who had an average age of 25, started the second half brightly and doubled their advantage two minutes after the break. Dixon pressured Andrew Mitchell, allowing Mackay-Steven to gain possession and send a sumptuous cross over from the left between two defenders for Jon Daly to finish first time.

Sone Aluko replaced debutant Mitchell a couple of minutes later after the youngster's error as Rangers manager McCoist searched for a route back into the game. The Nigerian was the catalyst Rangers needed and on 59 minutes he conjured up some sublime skill with a stepover and a nutmeg to advance into the penalty area.



Dundee United had won five, drawn five and lost five of their fifteen home matches in the SPL this season before this one.

His shot was deflected by the sliding challenge of former Hibernian midfielder John Rankin and looped up over his own keeper Pernis to reduce the deficit marginally with half an hour left to play.

Rangers rallied and Bedoya's left-footed drive was easily saved by the keeper before makeshift defender Lee McCulloch, at the other end, somehow bravely headed Johnny Russell's fierce goal-bound drive from ten yards over the bar.

However, they could not find a way through again and now face the prospect of their age-old rivals toasting the league championship on their home turf next Sunday as Ally McCoist's side lost a third league match out of four since entering administration with the club desperate for new investment with prospective owners preparing to table bids. For Dundee United, it is four successive victories in the league which is an impressive string of results. They received some bad news shortly after kick-off that one of their number Scott Severin has been forced to quit football through a failure to recover from a serious injury.



Saturday 17th March 2012

Scottish Premier League



Dundee United 2-1 Rangers                                 KO 12:45pm           (HT 1-0)

Watson 37           Rankin 60 (og)
Daly 47


Dundee United:  1 Pernis- 7/10, 12 Watson- 8/10, 2 Dillon- 7.5/10, 18 Gunning- 7/10, 3 Dixon (C)- 6.5/10, 6 Flood- 7/10, 8 Robertson- 7.5/10, 11 Rankin- 6.5/10, 17 Mackay-Steven- 6/10 (Armstrong 86- 1.5/10), 9 Daly- 7.5/10, 15 Russell- 6.5/10 (Ryan 86- 1.5/10).

Subs not used:  13 Banks, 5 Kenneth, 14 Douglas, 10 Swanson, 22 Dow

Booked:      Watson (14), Gunning (44)


Rangers:  1 McGregor- 6.5/10, 7 Edu- 6/10, 6 McCulloch- 6.5/10, 32 Perry- 6/10, 12 Wallace- 6.5/10, 41 McCabe- 5.5/10, 8 Davis (C)- 6.5/10, 21 Bedoya- 6/10 (Hemmings 83- 2/10), 40 Andrew Mitchell- 6/10 (Aluko 51- 3.5/10), 28 Kerkar- 6.5/10, 34 Little- 6.5/10.

Subs not used:  25 Alexander, 37 Christopher Hegarty, 15 Healy

Booked:      Andrew Mitchell (21), McCulloch (64), Perry (74), McCabe (77)


My Man of the Match:    Keith Watson (Dundee United)- Rating 8/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:    Rhys McCabe (Rangers)- Rating 5.5/10


Referee: Brian Winter (Scotland)- 8/10
Attendance: 9,464



Match Facts

Dundee United- 49%                  Rangers- 51%

Shots: Dundee United- 8                    Rangers- 12

Shots on target: Dundee United- 4                    Rangers- 8

Shots off target: Dundee United- 4                    Rangers- 4

Corners: Dundee United- 3                   Rangers- 6

Fouls: Dundee United- 8                   Rangers- 16

Offside: Dundee United- 0                    Rangers- 1

Assists: Dundee United- Mackay-Steven                 Rangers- Aluko



Dundee United manager Peter Houston

"It's a massive three points no matter what Rangers side you're facing. Our guys came in shaking their heads in disappointment. But it's games like this when you don't play well and get three points that make the difference. We played better in the first half against Celtic last week and got beaten. The difference is we go one up this time. We started the second half on fire and got the second goal through a great cross from Gary Mackay-Steven to Jon Daly which really helped us and put a spanner in the Rangers camp I think. It was the perfect time to score for us. But, after that, we put ourselves under pressure with poor decision making. We got deeper and deeper, no matter how many times I shouted to get them up the park. This group of players work very hard and their attitude is spot on. We're scoring goals and keeping the door locked at the back which bodes well for where we want to go for the rest of the season and what we can do next year."

Click here for more of United boss Peter Houston's thoughts after the win over Rangers



Rangers manager Ally McCoist

"I'm very disappointed. Looking back at the first half especially, I felt we certainly had the better chances. I think United had one wonder strike and it flew into the net. Apart from that, I don't think thery really troubled us. I felt that we didn't start well for the first 15 minutes of the second half. United got the goal - obviously at a really poor time for us - and, after that, I thought we woke up about 15 minutes into the second half and played well again for half an hour. I'm really disappointed that we didn't get anything from the game. I'm thrilled with some of the boys' performances. They've come into the team and we're asking them to do a very difficult job in extremely difficult circumstances. That is one of the big, big pluses. I'm not thinking about the fact that Celtic could win the league at our place next week. There is a massive job to be done here and that is what my focus is on- not what Celtic are doing. We need to get our players back during the week before the big game next Sunday and take it from there."

Click here for more of the Gers boss Ally McCoist after the 2-1 defeat to Dundee United

Match highlights coming soon.

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