Smart adds spice to Duffy's return
Dundee Utd 0 Dundee 0
Sunday 01 September 2002
Ignore the scoreline, this encounter was laced with drama and flair, yet how appropriate that nothing could prise apart British football's closest neighbours.
Players have been making the 170-yard trip between Dens Park and Tannadice for generations for this most unusual derby. How both clubs must have wished that ruthless finishers such as Andy Gray (Dundee United) and Alan Gilzean (Dundee) were still on their books, but that harsh reality could not dilute yesterday's pulsating draw.
"It was typically fast and furious," acknowledged the Dundee United manager, Alex Smith, who watched one of his own new signings, Allan Smart, become caught up in the passion. He was dismissed for a sickening 75th-minute challenge on Jonay Hernandez.
The match marked Jim Duffy's reacquaintance with the derby after an absence of six years. In that time, the Dundee manager had endured a roller coaster of events – sacked by Hibernian before reviving his reputation as Chelsea's youth coach and assistant at Portsmouth.
The departure of Ivano Bonetti from Dens Park prompted Dundee to look once more to Duffy. However, there was an ironic twist provided by rivals United unveiling one of his former pupils from Stamford Bridge. Warren Cummings has not flourished as quickly as John Terry, Sam Dalla Bona and Carlton Cole – three from Duffy's youth team – but a year's loan at Tannadice is expected to accelerate the progress of the Scotland Under-21 defender.
It was, however, another of United's new imports, Arnar Gunnlaugsson, who almost made an immediate impact. His pace opened up Dundee in the opening minute but Steve Thompson could not provide a finish to the cross.
As befits a contest between two such close and fierce rivals the match was characterised by a hectic pace. Waves of attacks illustrated how much the players were being carried along by the raucous atmosphere.
Dundee, however, began to impose control. The gifted Georgi Nemsadze threaded a deft free-kick over the top of United's defence in the 25th minute for Nacho Novo to deceive Cummings with a dip of the shoulder before his curling shot was pushed wide by Paul Gallacher.
The intensity never lapsed but Dundee's lack of composure in front of goal ruined their fine work. Fabian Caballero was too direct with one shot, while Steve Lovell tamely stabbed another effort straight at Gallacher.
However, the fervour exploded in an ugly manner when Smart was sent off barely nine minutes after coming on as a substitute. Had Hernandez not got his leg out of the way just in time, the consequence could have been perilous and the Spaniard made his feelings clear with a finger-to-temple gesture as Smart departed up the tunnel that suggested his assailant might have been "El Loco".
Smith admitted later that Smart had been anything but. "It was a rush of blood and it was rash," said the United manager. "Allan went flying after the ball and realised when he got there that he'd gone in at too fast. I don't think it was malicious, more frustration, but Hernandez got a fright and the referee punished Smart."
A similar lack of discipline almost cost Dundee dear, just minutes after the warring teams had been separated. Lee Mair scythed down Charlie Miller, allowing Danny Griffin to deliver a curling free-kick which Speroni pushed over the bar.
Thompson, meanwhile, forged without success. The man who will shoulder the responsibility of Scotland's attack in the Faroe Islands next week will hope this was not a dry run for the real thing.
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