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24.05.2019 13:45

Honours even in Premiership Play-Off

Dundee United and St Mirren fought out a gripping draw on Thursday evening in the first leg of their Scottish Premiership Play-Off final at Tannadice.

United, who is bidding to end its three-year run in the Championship, was the favourite with sports betting companies to win the game against a St Mirren side that finished second from bottom in the Premiership after earning promotion from the Championship last season.

With plenty at stake, the game was tense and scrappy on occasions, and neither side was able to find an edge. Paul McMullan and Pavol Šafranko had good opportunities for United, while Kyle McAllister and Kyle Magennis had the best chances for the visitors, but the goalless draw means that everything will be decided in the second leg in Paisley on Sunday.

St Mirren went into the game in good form, having put together a run of six unbeaten games, and manager Oran Kearney had suggested they would fare better than the last time they met Dundee United in the Scottish Cup when they lost 2-1. Thursday’s team contained only five of the players who took part in that Cup defeat, and they showed a lot more resolve and determination than they had in the earlier game, although they didn’t create many chances.

The main threat from the visitors came from set-pieces, some of which caused the United defence significant problems. One free-kick from McAllister even drew a sharp header from Dundee defender Mark Reynolds that could easily have ended up in his own net. McAllister was the main creative threat for the visitors, operating on the right-hand side of the St Mirren line-up but regularly cutting inside. He had St Mirren’s best chance of the first half, firing in a shot that appeared to be heading for the top corner until goalkeeper Benjamin Siegrist pushed it aside.

Siegrist was called into action again shortly after the break when he denied Magennis’ close-range effort at the back post, as St Mirren continued to push for the opening goal.

The home side’s best play had come in the first half, but they have struggled to turn dominance into goals for much of their campaign, and that trait was in evidence again on Thursday. Ian Harkes had an early shot deflected wide, and McMullan was then denied by St Mirren keeper Václav Hladký.

Words: Jonah Farrell
Images: PA