St Mirren 2 – 1 Dundee U

Substitute Alex Greive scored a late game-winning goal as St Mirren beat Dundee United 2-1 in a fun encounter at SMiSA Stadium.

St Mirren took the lead in the first half when Curtis Main’s header ricocheted off the post before beating United goalkeeper Carljohan Eriksson.

Dundee United replacement Steven Fletcher equalized shortly after the break before referee Grant Irvine opted to disallow Jonah Ayunga’s goal for a build-up foul as VAR had an impact on the weekend of his Premiership introduction. .

However, the home team was not denied and Greive’s header proved to be the difference as St Mirren returned to fourth place in the table.

St Mirren returned to fourth place with victory on Saturday afternoon
St Mirren returned to fourth place with victory on Saturday afternoon

St Mirren’s record showed just one change from last weekend’s home draw against Kilmarnock, with Scott Tanser replacing Declan Gallagher, while United manager Liam Fox opted to start with Ilmari Niskanen and Craig Sibbald over make two changes to their squad following their Premier Sports Cup loss to Kilmarnock midweek.

The match got off to a thrilling start and United almost took the lead in the fourth minute when St Mirren defender Richard Tait inadvertently aimed for his own goal, but goalkeeper Trevor Carson reacted strongly to keep him out.

The hosts reacted, however, moments later, with Ayunga first seeing his shot deflect to the side, before Charles Dunne’s header went off the bar in the resulting corner.

St Mirren had the ball in the net in the 17th minute as Ryan Strain slid home after a strong break from Mark O’Hara, but the whistle had long since been a foul on Ryan Edwards.

Alex Grieve scored the winning goal
Alex Grieve scored the winning goal

The home side were well on top and Ayunga got close twice in quick succession, before they were nearly hit by a punch in the 38th minute when Carson’s misjudgment gave Tony Watt an open goal but the forward’s shot agonizingly left the side.

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United were forced to call three minutes later as Main climbed higher to meet Tait’s cross at the back post to find the net through the post and into the back of the hapless Eriksson.

Main – who terrified the United defense with two goals in his August match – was inches from a goal again moments later when he hit a left-footed shot to the crossbar from 25 yards.

St Mirren dominated the first half, but it was the visitors who started the second half on the front foot and didn’t have to wait long to get back on track as Fletcher made his mark just moments after being introduced.

Fletcher found himself in space in the six-yard area after Watt dropped a deep cross from Aziz Behich and the former Scottish striker showed composure to control the ball and pass Carson with his right foot.

The drama continued just after the one-hour mark, when Ayunga thought he had put the hosts back in front when he cut from the right and left-footed Eriksson, only for referee Irvine to disallow the goal for a foul on Behich. Keanu Baccus after being sent to consult with the field monitor by VAR Alan Muir.

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The home fans showed their frustration after the decision, but soon went back to cheering before the end of the game, as the hosts scored again in the 83rd minute and this time the goal was worth it.

Greive had only been on the field for a few minutes when he found space to deflect Ethan Erhahon’s perfect cross to put the hosts back in front.

United had certainly played their part in an end-to-end feud and Scott McMann nearly equalized in the last minute, but his shot hit the post as the Saints held on.

Robinson: I didn’t celebrate the victory because of the VAR

St Mirren coach Stephen Robinson
St Mirren coach Stephen Robinson

St Mirren manager Stephen Robinson has admitted he didn’t get over Greive’s victory in the event of a second VAR intervention.

Robinson said: “When Alex scored, I was tight. I was tighter than I normally am. I thought, ‘here we go, they’re going to come back 25 minutes to see where this started!’

“Credit to the referees, it’s new for them too and they handled the situation well. It’s different and everyone is getting used to it.

While Robinson did not agree with the decision to disallow Ayunga’s goal, he believes the introduction of technology to the Premiership this weekend is a step in the right direction.

“I’ve watched it a few times and I don’t agree with it – but I’ll say it!” he said. “It’s a nail, but it shows that there are still human decisions in this.

“Referees have the hardest job ever, but it will certainly help them. It slows the game down a bit, but we’ll all have to get used to it. They won’t get everything right because the human eyes still have to judge.

VAR was first used in St Mirren
VAR was first used in St Mirren

“Everyone is doing the best they can, it will probably speed up a little bit as everyone gets used to it. It’s a step in the right direction, we can’t fall behind as a league or a country.”

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The Saints’ manager, meanwhile, refused to rely on speculation linking him to the vacant Northern Ireland manager role. “I haven’t had any contact. I have enough hard work here without taking my focus away from him. There’s no contact, so there’s no point in speculating.”

Reflecting on his defeat, Dundee United manager Liam Fox admits he knew he didn’t have an easy job on his hands after back-to-back defeats for his team.

He said: “We left with no points so I’m obviously very disappointed about that. Aspects of our game that I thought were pretty good today and there are things we need to improve quickly.

“We need to prevent crosses from entering the area and we need to make better decisions, especially when we are at the top of the game.

“We conceded a few goals when we were at the top of games, so there are things we need to look at structurally and things to look at individually with the players, but I said that job was never going to be easy and we’ve got a whole week of training before Motherwell, so we need to get back to work.”

What is the next?

Both teams return to action on Saturday, October 29 at 3pm. St Mirren travel to Easter Road to face Hibernian, while Dundee United host Motherwell in Tannadice.


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