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Aberdeen o Dundee United 3: Taylor opens the door for visitors to sack Pittodrie

Forget that Dundee United had not beaten Aberdeen at Pittodrie in seven previous attempts dating back five years.

Chris Erskine is raised high by his Dundee United team-mates after scoring a late third goal. Picture: SNS
Chris Erskine is raised high by his Dundee United team-mates after scoring a late third goal. Picture: SNS

Disregard the statistic that the Tannadice side lost three matches and drew once against the team from the north-east last season. The slate was wiped clean before referee Willie Collum blew his whistle to start an absorbing match which would end with the visitors as impressive as they were clinical.

Sure, they were aided and abetted by some sloppy defending and a monumental blunder from Ashton Taylor - making his debut for Aberdeen at centre-back as a consequence of Russell Anderson's suspension - whose short back pass inside his penalty box opened the door for Ryan Dow to slip an angled shot past Jamie Langfield for the first goal.

The bragging rights were with United in the end, although Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, was quick to praise Taylor, released by Tranmere Rovers at the end of last season, and who went on to make a reasonable contribution.

It was never in doubt that this game would be played at a high tempo from the start and that United would bid to capitalise on any weariness among their opponents following last Thursday night's exertions against Real Sociedad in the Europa League. The Pittodrie side exited the competition that night but not without a show of defiance.

Jackie McNamara, meanwhile, the Dundee United manager, was satisfied with the contribution of his three new defenders - Callum Morris, Connor Townsend and Jaroslaw Fojut. The trio grew into the game yesterday and were crucial to a slick and solid team performance.

The assertion by McInnes, however, that his side had huffed and puffed, and that he should have freshened his line-up, found no argument, leaving McNamara to take the plaudits. "I don't think many people would have predicted that result but I was pleased by the performance," said the Dundee United manager. "We kept a clean sheet and we looked defensively solid. We also looked a real threat going forward so it was a good day for us.

"As an ex-defender I thought our defending was really pleasing. It was something I felt we needed to address after last season. We are an attacking force with pace and power but last season we were a worry defensively, not just from open play but from set pieces too. We were punished last year by certain teams but we looked solid today, as well as a threat in the opposition box, which is important.

"I think our two centre-halves were solid. They weren't just getting a few yards on their headers, they were getting some distance on them and getting us up the park. If I'm being critical we could have passed the ball better when Aberdeen were putting us under pressure in the second half."

Such pressure was palpable as the home side harassed the visitors, without any sign of breaking their resolve and, in their search for parity, Aberdeen left the door open for Nadir Ciftci to send Gary Mackay-Steven into space on the cusp of half-time. The United winger held his nerve to slip the ball under the body of Langfield as the teas were being poured.

Adam Rooney's introduction for Barry Robson at the start of the second half was not unexpected, but it was David Goodwillie who almost reduced the deficit. However, his flick towards goal was stopped on the line by Townsend.

Yet there was no sense that United were in the mood to slip and twice within a few moments Ciftci had opportunities, one of which would have been rewarded but for the acrobatics of Langfield to thwart the Turk's ferocious strike.

However, this assured performance from the Tayside team, who never looked like loosening their grip on the game, brought greater reward with late substitutes Mario Balite and Chris Erskine administering the coup de grace. It was the latter who picked his spot after being fed by his team-mate on the stroke of full time.

"There was a lack of energy about us," added McInnes. "On reflection I should have made more changes to the starting line-up. Dundee United deserved their victory. They took advantage of a bad mistake from us and when we were chasing the game it suited their style of play to hit us on the counter. I thought they played very intelligently."

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