An inspired substitution by David Irons allowed Gretna finally to secure their first win in the Scottish Premier League, as Allan Jenkins repaid his manager's faith by heading a dramatic winner at Fir Park yesterday.
The victory came at the seventh time of asking for Gretna and will banish fears that their temporary home is cursed. It looked as if Lee Wilkie's controversial equaliser for Dundee United was set to rip the precious prize from the hosts but Jenkins conjured up a crucial 86th-minute finish.
Dundee United came to Fir Park knowing they would ascend to joint leadership of the SPL if they inflicted yet more pain upon Gretna, whose only reward had been a draw at Hearts. The travelling support matched the hosts', perhaps no surprise given that Gretna and Dundee are equidistant from Lanarkshire, the location for the promoted side's exile because Raydale Park does not meet SPL stadia criteria.
Dundee United's optimism was evident as they took only nine minutes to score. Willo Flood, the former Manchester City midfielder, whipped in a cross for Noel Hunt to win ahead of Evan Horwood, knocking it down for the former Ajax teenager, Prince Bobin, to stab past the goalkeeper Greg Fleming.
However Gretna's resilience swiftly became apparent. Five minutes later, Irons' side restored parity after Chris Innes' audacious 40-yard shot was pushed wide for a corner. Fabian Yantorno's excellent delivery broke into the path of David Cowan for the former Motherwell player to plant a firm half-volley into the net.
It was little surprise that Yantorno played a role in Gretna taking the lead in the 36th minute. His corner was not cleared fully by Hunt and Gavin Skelton returned the ball into the area for Colin McMenamin to help it on to the back post, where the eager Cowan had rushed in to power a header into the roof of the net.
In the second half, Dundee United equalised with a goal wrapped in great dubiety. Barry Robson's corner picked out Lee Wilkie, but the towering United defender appeared to hold down his marker before thumping a header past Fleming.
However, Gretna snatched the winner four minutes from the end. They hit United on the counter-attack with Evan Horwood delivering a deep cross for Jenkins to power beyond Gregorz Szamotulski and spark wild celebrations.Reuse content