April 6, 2013
Boulding strike enough for Tangerines
A last-gasp winner from substitute Rory Boulding against Aberdeen secured the coveted final top-six spot for Dundee United - with a little help from their city rivals.
Defeat for Kilmarnock at the hands of Dundee, combined with the late strike at Tannadice, ensured United a place in the top half of the Scottish Premier League table beyond the split.
Killie had been in the driving seat to claim the top six berth, with United, the Dons and Hibernian also in contention at the start of the day.
The eventual outcome meant a disappointing end to Aberdeen boss Craig Brown's 36-year managerial career as he now steps aside for Derek McInnes to take over the reins at Pittodrie.
United were boosted by the return of John Rankin from suspension, with Stuart Armstrong banned and Gary Mackay-Steven named on the bench after injury.
The Dons added fit-again Gary Naysmith to their side for the clash at Tannadice.
Mark Millar tried his luck with a shot from distance that fell wide of the target as the home side pushed for an early opener.
Aberdeen then had a chance of their own when Millar conceded a foul and Niall McGinn's resultant free-kick from just outside the box fizzed past the upright.
Chances in front of goal were limited for both sides in an evenly-matched affair in the first half.
But the visitors were threatening again through another set-piece, when Jonny Hayes punted a free-kick into the box and Russell Anderson glanced a header wide.
At the other end, a mix-up between the Dons defender and goalkeeper Jamie Langfield almost gifted United the opener but Ryan Gauld failed to find the target.
Jon Daly then squandered a great chance to grab the opener just before the interval, ballooning over when he should at least have tested Langfield.
The Dons were out of the traps quickly after the break and Radoslaw Cierzniak was called into action to beat away McGinn's header a minute after the restart.
United had a chance to pile on the pressure with a free-kick but Barry Douglas rifled into the wall, before Rankin blasted the rebound wide.
The home side then threw Mackay-Steven into the action after 53 minutes and the winger immediately lit up the match.
He burst through on goal and looked certain to find the back of the net but delayed pulling the trigger and allowed Mark Reynolds to make a superb block before he could unleash the shot.
The woodwork then prevented United from opening the scoring when Langfield blocked a Gauld shot and Willo Flood's follow-up header smacked off the crossbar, before Mackay-Steven eventually nodded over.
United pushed forward in numbers and the Aberdeen goalkeeper did well to claw a net-bound Daly header away from the gaping net.
Langfield came to the rescue again moments later with a brilliant double save, firstly blocking Gauld's header, before preventing Daly's shot from finding the target.
McGinn then drew a decent save from the United keeper with two minutes to go, before substitute Rory Fallon's long-ranger was touched just wide.
The match ended in dramatic scenes when Boulding kept his composure to rifle past Langfield deep into injury time to secure the last top-six spot.
|Rory Boulding (90')|
|1 Radoslaw Cierzniak||1 Jamie Langfield|
|2 Sean Dillon||4 Russell Anderson|
|12 Keith Watson||17 Gary Naysmith|
|3 Barry Douglas||22 Mark Reynolds|
|44 Jon Soutattar||2 Ryan Jack|
|8 John Rankin||23 Joe Shaughnessy|
|6 Willo Flood||5 Gavin Rae|
|14 Mark Millar||11 Jonathan Hayes|
|38 Ryan Gauld||10 Niall McGinn|
|9 Jon Daly||9 Scott Vernon|
|15 Michael Gardine||21 Josh Magennis|
|31 Phil Anderson||Dan Twardzik 20|
|17 Marcus Tornstrand||Nicky Lowrie 13|
|33 Luke Johnston||Stephen Hughes 18|
|10 Richie Ryan||Robert Milsom 8|
|11 Gary Mackay-Steven||Peter Pawlett 15|
|19 Rory Boulding||Rory Fallon 14|
|18 Ryan Dow||Cameron Smith 38|
|Gary Mackay-Steven for Michael Gardine (53)||Nicky Lowrie for Jonathan Hayes (70)|
|Rory Boulding for John Rankin (72)||Rory Fallon for Josh Magennis (78)|
|Peter Pawlett for Joe Shaughnessy (85)|
|Keith Watson (76)||Gavin Rae (87)|
|Jon Soutattar (86)||Russell Anderson (90)|
|· Squads: Dundee United | Aberdeen|