3 talking points as Dundee United seal Scottish Cup win thanks to Ian Harkes screamer

Dundee United booked their place in the quarter finals of the Scottish Cup for the first time since 2019 after a hardfought 1-0 win over Partick Thistle.

It marks the Tangerines fourth win over the Jags in the competition, having KO’d them at Tannadice last year.

The Jags will have every right to feel hard done by having dominated most of the game and goalkeeper Jamie Sneddon had very little to do but a goal from Ian Harkes was the difference.

It was the home side who started the brighter with on-loan Dundee striker Alex Jakubiak looking particularly bright early on.

Making his debut, the forward initially started off on the right before moving more central where he was almost put through one v one after a mix-up in the nervous United defence.

Ian McCall’s side were playing some brilliant football, switching play brilliantly between their forward players and dominating the midfield battle.

Scott Tiffoney forced Benjamin Siegrist to tip his shot over the bar after brilliantly cutting inside.

It was the away side who took the lead though, albeit against the run of play, when Harkes struck a brilliant left-footed half-volley from the edge of the box to score his first goal since November.

From there on, the Tangerines took a bit more control of the game and started to put their opponents under a bit more pressure, forcing them back into their own half.

Partick once again started the second half brightly and a scramble in the United box caused by Benjamin Siegrist nearly led to the equalizer.

Throughout, the away side continually looked vulnerable from set pieces.

The first sub of the game came from the away side as midfielder Kevin McDonald made way for Scott McMann.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – FEBRUARY 12: Partick Thistle’s Scott Tiffoney and Dundee United’s Scott McMann during a Scottish Cup match between Partick Thistle and Dundee United at Firhill, on February 12, 2022, in Glasgow, Scotland (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

United’s first chance of the second half didn’t arrive until the 60-minute mark when Tony Watt wastefully curled a shot wide of the post after being left unmarked.

Once again, the Tangerines took control of the game and it could have easily been 2-0 had some brilliant defending from Ciaran McKenna denied the pacey Niskanen from getting in behind.

Ian McCall’s first roll of the dice came when he took top scorer Brian Graham off in place of Ross MacIver.

Ross Docherty was then unable to convert after a ball fell kindly to him inside United’s box.

Thistle continued to push with Siegrist being forced into a brilliant save from substitute Cammy Smith’s low shot in what proved to be the final chance of the game.

Both sides were guilty of wasting set-pieces which came their way for the remainder of the half.

The Swiss goalkeeper certainly proved unpopular with Thistle fans who continually booed the time-wasting for which he was eventually booked.

Here’s three talking points from Firhill:

Hope for Partick

Despite the loss, if the Jags can sustain these types of performances then a promotion play-off spot should be well within their reach.

Although they didn’t quite create anything clear cut, they squeezed United in their own half for periods of the game and more than matched the Premiership outfit in midfield.

Alex Jakubiak in particular looked bright on his debut – constantly running the channels whilst also taking up more central positions at times and linking up brilliantly with runners in behind.

Scott Tiffoney also provided a threat throughout and was rightly awarded the man of the match award.

McCall’s side currently sit fifth in the Scottish Championship but have three games in hand on Raith Rovers, Inverness and Kilmarnock who sit above them.

Dundee United back on track

Tam Courts’ side had been winless and without a goal in three games before their 2-0 victory against Motherwell earlier this week.

After such a bright start to the season, there was likely some cause for concern amongst United fans.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – FEBRUARY 12: Dundee United manager Tam Courts during a Scottish Cup match between Partick Thistle and Dundee United at Firhill, on February 12, 2022, in Glasgow, Scotland (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

While this win didn’t provide an inspiring performance, they are now just three games away from a first Scottish Cup win since 2010 and a European place is well within their reach.

They came to a tough away ground against a side looking to provide an upset and fought hard to come through.

Despite looking nervous a little early on, it is also the side’s fourth consecutive clean sheet which can only give the defense more confidence.

If they are to pick anything up against champions Rangers in their next fixture though, United will need to create far more and not leave as much space for the Gers full backs to exploit.

Watt’s link-up play

A key feature of Dundee United’s play was Tony Watt dropping deep to help link play.

The striker’s physicality regularly allowed him to hold up the ball and, whilst he didn’t see any clear goalscoring chances himself, he did help his side get up the pitch on more than one occasion.

At times, the 28-year-old looked isolated but when his teammates started running off him he was able to showcase his quality.

After grabbing his first goal since arriving in Dundee, if the striker can combine the two abilities consistently, he’ll certainly continue to impact games.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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