Blair Spittal bags winner as Dundee United hit back to win at Morton
Blair Spittal kept Dundee United’s promotion bid on track as his second-half strike ensured a 2-1 first-leg lead over Ladbrokes Premiership play-off quarter-final opponents Morton.
Skipper Thomas O’Ware had deservedly put Morton ahead with his early header.
But sloppy United regrouped at the break and hit back with well-executed strikes from Simon Murray and Spittal.
The Tannadice outfit will now look to complete the job and book a semi-final date with Falkirk when they host the Greenock side on Friday night.
United should have opened the scoring inside the first minute as Derek Gaston flapped at a Spittal corner, but Thomas Mikkelsen blazed over with the Cappielow keeper stranded.
The visitors failed to build on that positive start, though, with Jim Duffy’s men dominating the opening half.
However, even the Ton’s manager of the year candidate would have been surprised with the simplicity of their seventh-minute opener as O’Ware slipped away from his marker to head home directly from Lawrence Shankland’s long throw.
Things could have got worse for the Taysiders on the quarter-hour mark as Michael Tidser smashed the ball off the crossbar from 25 yards out as dazed United stopper Cammy Bell waved at fresh air.
They were fortunate too that Spittal did not get worse than a ticking off from referee Willie Collum after diving in with two feet on Morton left-back Mark Russell.
But Ray McKinnon’s team finally found their rhythm six minutes after the break as they levelled in stunning fashion. A slick move down the left saw Spittal feed the ball to Murray on the edge of the box, with the striker spinning on to his right foot before crashing a powerful shot into the top corner.
Gaston had to react smartly to palm away a Willo Flood strike as United countered with speed again – but he could do nothing as Spittal slammed home the Terrors’ second on 65 minutes.
Again they played it patiently before Wato Kuate slipped the ball to his midfield colleague, who took a touch before rifling into the bottom corner to put United in the driving seat.