WHEN Jim Goodwin last sat in the dugout at a Dundee United match back in November, his future looked brighter than the Northern Lights which have lit up the skies over Scotland this week.

His Aberdeen team edged to a narrow 1-0 win at Pittodrie in their final match before the World Cup shutdown and leapfrogged Livingston into third place in the cinch Premiership table. His star appeared to be very much in the ascendency.  

How fortunes can change in football.

Goodwin, who was sacked at the end of January following a diabolical run of form, returned to the technical area at Tannadice this evening as the manager of relegation-threatened United just days after taking over from Liam Fox.

It was an intriguing encounter because of his unexpected involvement against his former employers. However, this debut defeat underlined just how much work lies ahead of him in his new role in the weeks to come and how difficult it will be to keep United up.

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The bottom-placed team in the top flight dominated proceedings early on and were unfortunate to fall behind to a Duk goal in the second-half.

Jamie McGrath then levelled from the penalty spot after Jack McKenzie had brought down Sadat Anaku. But Ross McCrorie and Marley Watkins wrapped up a hard-fought triumph.

Here are five talking points from events on Tayside.  


Goodwin’s final game in charge of Aberdeen – a 6-0 mauling at the hands of Hibernian at Easter Road – had seen the travelling supporters unfurl banners and belt out chants demanding his removal.

They got their wish just minutes after the final whistle. But their enmity towards their former manager has clearly not dissipated much since his departure. They gave their old gaffer an earful as he came out of the tunnel before kick-off tonight.  

The 3,000 or so Dons fans who had made the journey down the A90 were, as luck would have it, billeted in the Jerry Kerr Stand and he had to walk in front every one of them to take his seat. They gave him the “hot reception” which he had anticipated. Boos and jeers rang out around the ground.

The former Alloa and St Mirren coach was undeterred. He turned to the home supporters and applauded them and they in turn reciprocated. But the abuse from the Aberdeen diehards continued once play got underway. There were cries of “Goodwin’s going down” and “Goodwin, Goodwin, get tae f***”.

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But he received a standing ovation from his new club’s followers as he returned to the dressing room for half-time after the best 45 minutes of football they had witnessed for quite a while.

But when Duk broke the deadlock cries of “you’re getting sacked in the morning” rang out.  And when Watkins slotted the third he was asked “Goodwin, Goodwin, what’s the score?”.  


Goodwin did not mess about in his first game in charge of United – he made no fewer than four changes to the side that had been thrashed 4-0 by Ross County in Dingwall last Saturday.

Mark Birighitti, who had been dropped after gifting St Johnstone their late winner the week before, reclaimed his place in goals from Jack Newman.

Elsewhere, full-backs Scott McMann and Kieran Freeman and midfielder Ian Harkes, who had recovered from a hamstring injury, returned to the starting line-up as Liam Smith, Arnaud Djoum and Kai Fotheringham dropped to the bench.

His tweaks had the desired impact. United, without a Premiership win in two months, dominated the first-half of the encounter. Steven Fletcher saw a shot deflected narrowly wide in just the second minute. That set the tone for much of what was to come.

When they fell behind in the second-half it was very much against the run of play. The final outcome was harsh. But Goodwin has to improve his charges’ finishing in the final third if they are to stand any chance of staying up.

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With Kilmarnock losing 3-1 to Rangers away and Ross County being beaten 2-0 by Motherwell at the home, this match presented United with an opportunity to pull to within a point of their fellow strugglers. They failed to take it. Their chances to haul themselves up the table to avoid the drop are running out.


There is only an outside chance, despite the wins over St Mirren, Livingston and United that he has overseen since being appointed Aberdeen caretaker manager, of Barry Robson being handed the job on a full-time basis.

But he did his cause no harm tonight. The visitors earned three vital points thanks to a sublime Duk strike, a McCorie goal and a Watkins effort. They jumped above St Mirren into fifth as a result. 

The chants of “Super Barry Robson” which erupted during injury-time showed what the Aberdeen fans thought of the job their ex-midfielder had done. He can hold his head high if someone else takes over in the coming days.


The meeting between these age-old foes was scheduled for six o’clock in an attempt to attract a larger attendance. Anything which can generate interest in Scottish football, attract much-needed income and improve atmospheres is worth trying. No fewer than 11,048 people filed through the turnstiles.


This match provided further evidence, as if any was really needed, that pyrotechnics are becoming a serious problem in Scottish football. Smoke bombs were set off by the Aberdeen supporters and thrown onto the pitch before kick-off and then again when Duk scored the opener.  

One of them came within inches of hitting Aberdeen midfielder Ryan Duncan. The teenager was far from impressed and glowered at the stands after the incident. It will not be long before a player, supporter or steward is less fortunate.

It is an impossible task for football clubs and the police to prevent pyrotechnics being taken into grounds. But more clearly needs to be done or somebody will ended up being badly injured.