Lovell's gamble not in vain as Dundee preserve unbeaten run at Tannadice

Dundee United 2 - Dundee 2
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The Independent Football

Steve Lovell robbed Dundee United of a cherished derby win with a clinical late finish at Tannadice yesterday that extended Dundee's unbeaten run in this fierce city rivalry to nine games.

Steve Lovell robbed Dundee United of a cherished derby win with a clinical late finish at Tannadice yesterday that extended Dundee's unbeaten run in this fierce city rivalry to nine games.

The Dundee manager, Jim Duffy, had fought off attempts in the transfer window to take Lovell back to England and was rewarded with an 85th-minute equaliser that cancelled out what appeared to be a decisive goal from Jim McIntyre just six minutes earlier. The greater satisfaction for Duffy was that it preserved the three-point margin over United in the Scottish Premier League relegation dogfight.

Dundee United, despite a significant injection of capital, have laboured all season to assemble three meagre victories, while Dundee had only won once away from home this term - when they visited Tannadice in August.

It was Dundee who posted the greater intent in the early stages, with Tom McManus poised to profit from a clever pass threaded into his run by Fabian Caballero until Paul Ritchie's well-executed slide challenge in the box. Lee Wilkie was then robbed of a certain scoring header by his own colleague, Neil Barrett, who pushed the Scotland player in the back, forcing him to miss.

However, that folly would prove costly when Dundee United scored with the next attack to take a 12th-minute lead. Mark Wilson's cross into the box caused panic in the Dundee defence, prompting the full-back Calum McDonald's rushed clearance which hit Stuart Duff on the shins and ricocheted past the goalkeeper, Derek Soutar. Tannadice's joy was unconfined, and Steve Crawford might have doubled that lead after 25 minutes with a raking ball across goal that McIntyre failed to finish off.

Dundee, though, gradually regained their equilibrium, with Wilkie's downward header frantically blocked before the goalkeeper, Nick Colgan, spilled Mark Fother-ingham's 35-yard shot, with Caballero failing to net the rebound.

Lovell then stung Colgan's palms after creating an opening to offer the visitors some hope for the second half.

However, Dundee owed a debt to Soutar, who executed an important one-handed save in the 55th minute to deny McIntyre's shot from the edge of the box. Dundee sensed that they had to step up their tempo, and subjected United to fierce scrutiny.

They thought they hadmanaged to restore parity a few minutes later when Fotheringham's cross was headed back by Lovell for Caballero to spin and thump a shot that was blocked on the line by Alan Archibald, and then acro-batically kept out of the net by David McCracken's overhead kick.

Dundee, though, would not be denied. McManus equalised in the 71st minute after a sublime exchange between McDonald and Caballero, the latter escaping on to a threaded pass to deliver a cross that was met by McManus's run, and his well-timed header beat Colgan.

However, United responded eight minutes later by regaining the lead. Grant Brebner's pass released Mark Wilson and the full-back's cutback was glanced in by the predatory McIntyre.

Tannadice spilled over with joy, but Lovell had the final word. He struck five minutes from the end, after McDonald had swept a fine ball to the near post, where Lovell's gamble paid off with a deadly flick.

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