United overcame a spirited Buchanhaven Hearts in the quarter final of the MTM Morrison Cup at College Park on Saturday.
United should have had the game sewn up in the second half after missing a number of gilt edged chances when the score was 3 – 1, but, with 20 minutes left, Broch full back Neil Hay saw red and Buchanhaven scored shortly after to make it an extremely tense final 15 minutes.
United gave starts to Martin Sinclair, Darren Ross and Steven Lawrence as Johnny Dunbar, Graeme McLeman and Stuart Noble dropped out through injury.
The Blue Toon side started the brighter and came within a whisker of opening the scoring on 9 minutes. Donaldson flicked on Brown’s corner and McKechnie bulleted in a header that Innes did brilliantly to clear off the line.
United responded by taking control of the game and produced a brilliant goal on 20 minutes. Darren Ross swept the ball up the line to Lawrence who exchanged passes with Watt and burst clear on the right skipping past Brown before cutting the ball back to Watt where United’s top goal scorer volleyed beautifully into the far corner.
Hearties did draw level against the run of play on 34 minutes when McKechnie cleverly drew Hay into a challenge inside the box and went down rather easily. Referee Parson pointed to the spot and Bollard sent Sinclair the wrong way to net.
United did not rest on their laurels in the second-half, and Watt almost got his hat-trick when Lawrence’s through ball saw him try to round Bruce but the Buchanhaven goalie saved bravely at his feet.
United grabbed a third goal near the hour mark when Taylor and Hay split the Buchanhaven defence, Taylor’s cross finding Bisset at the back post for him to stab the ball under Bruce to give United a two goal cushion.
Hearts were floundering and United should have capitalised on a number of chances as Rollo, Lawrence and Watt were all guilty of squandering opportunities.
United’s frustration became evident as Ross and Forbes saw yellow. Worse was to follow on 71mins when Hay received a deserved second yellow for persistent fouling and the complexion of the game changed completely.
Hearts pushed forward in droves and eventually got themselves back into it on 79 minutes when Brown’s free-kick took a wicked bounce past Sinclair.
With time ebbing away so did Buchanhaven’s efforts and United held on to secure a home semi-final tie against Inverness City.
Fraser Watt spoke afterwards: “It’s a great win, form goes out the window when it’s a derby game so we knew that it would be a lot closer than our league positions show.
“Personally I’m very happy with my goals, the first one in particular was super-cool, I didn’t have time to place it and was fortunate enough to see the ball go in. But props to Steven [Lawrence] for that goal, he made it with great skill.”