Published: 20th December 2019
The Young Terrors ended a run of three consecutive defeats by picking up three points away to Motherwell with a strong and composed 2-1 victory at Braidhurst High School thanks to goals from Lewis Fraser and Darren Watson.
With Tuesday's defeat to St Johnstone in the Scottish FA Youth Cup still fresh in the memory, everyone wanted to get back to winning ways and Fraser got things off to the perfect start after six minutes.
Watson, who scored the opening goal midweek, was the architect. After being released down the right-wing by Shaun Brown, the young striker blew past the Motherwell full-back and supplied a low cross into the six-yard box where Fraser had burst into to knock the ball over the line.
Nine minutes later the Young Terrors went close to doubling their advantage. Following a corner, the ball was kept in the box by a mix of attacking and defensive headers before falling to Adam Hutchinson. The young defender brought the ball down well with a good first touch before turning and firing a shot towards the bottom corner, but it fell to the wrong side of the post.
United then went for some route one football in the 34th minute when goalkeeper Fraser Currid sent his goal kick over the top of the Motherwell defence for Watson to latch on to. He was forced to take his shot at an angle, allowing the keeper to parry the shot wide. The resulting corner was played to Rhys Caves outside the box, but he pulled his shot inches over the bar.
United's second goal arrived ten minutes into the second half with a carbon copy of the first goal. After a driving run from November's Academy Player of the Month Lewis Neilson through the middle of the park, he slipped the ball to Fraser who then fired in a low cross for Watson to convert.
Less than two minutes later, however, Motherwell were awarded a penalty when the referee adjudged there to be a handball in the box. Max Johnston stepped up for the hosts but Currid dove to his right and pushed the ball wide.
There was then a moment of confusion as the referee and his linesman entered into a discussion before it was ruled that the penalty was to be retaken. Johnston placed his shot into the same corner and while Currid did dive the right way, there was too much power on the shot to keep it out.
"I'm really disappointed with the penalty because Fraser has deserved a big moment," said Head Professional Performance Coach Adam Asghar. "It's been a tough couple of weeks for Fraser. He has been great, an overage player playing at this level and he leads by example.
"I'm disappointed he's had his moment taken away from him because it's a fantastic penalty save. We've watched the footage and he was on the line but it doesn't change. We're really proud of Fraser going through that and producing a big moment for us despite them scoring the second penalty."
From there, Motherwell will have edged the possession stat but could not find a way past United's backline who prevented them from testing Currid in the final 20 minutes and secure the win for the bus journey back to Dundee.
Asghar added at full-time: "I'm really proud of the players. We spoke to them after the game on Tuesday which had stung everyone involved because the boys really wanted to do well in that competition, but we had to draw a line under it.
"The boys have played three games in a short space of time but football is unforgiving. The only way you can get out of that is by digging in, looking out for each other and make sure you push yourself to get the three points over the line and I'm delighted for the players for doing that today.
"The game took the theme that I was expecting. We actually gave up the most control I've seen all season but we created more chances than I've seen in the last few games. It was very much a counter-attacking performance and for the players to recognise that, soak up pressure and hit them on the break effectively, I thought we did that.
"I never like giving up possession. It's not in our style but we've come here with tired legs and minds. So to sit in and hit teams on the counter-attack, we've found a way to win today. This three-game run without a win hasn't happened to the players before this season, the results have been quite consistent. But we had to find a way of digging out of it and credit to every single one of the boys I thought they did that."
The Young Terrors will now enjoy a Christmas break with their next match at home to Aberdeen on January 17. Location and kick-off time will be confirmed as soon as possible.