Careless Terrors fail to impress new gaffer Laszlo as they throw away lead
THE big thing Csaba Laszlo learned from his team’s careless Irn-Bru Cup exit against Crusaders was the Dundee United starting XI when Falkirk visit on Sunday should be pretty much the one that’s won the last two Championship games.
Saturday saw the new manager spring a mild surprise when, instead of fielding something close to his strongest team, he stuck with predecessor Ray McKinnon’s policy for this competition of going with fringe players and kids.
In doing so, he must have been hoping to see a few of those out on the park give him a selection headache for this weekend.
As the Tangerines allowed a winning position to slip to a 2-1 defeat against the travel-weary part-timers from Belfast, precious few did.
After a non-event of a first half, the home team did step up a gear in the second and, when skipper-for-the-day Fraser Fyvie gave them the lead with a fantastic long-range effort, they looked on course to take their defence of the trophy won last season to the semi-final stage at least.
Seemingly well in control, they squandered a string of fine chances, conceded the sloppiest of equalisers and then, deep in injury time when pressing hard for the winner, switched off at the back to concede the match decider.
Ultimately, of course, this defeat will not go down as a disaster and certainly does not come close to being season defining. The way it came about, though, was clearly a disappointment to Laszlo and understandably so for it was a game United should not have lost.
Even with a completely-changed starting line-up from the side that had so impressively toppled division leaders St Mirren a week earlier, this was still a decent-looking team.
It was one that should have been too strong for an opposition who themselves had left five or six regulars out because of a massive clash with Belfast rivals Linfield this week.
On top of that, the Crusaders players had been up at around five in the morning to catch a flight from Belfast. They only arrived in Dundee around noon, an hour before the scheduled kick-off.
Hardly the best preparations for a game against a team perceived to be from a higher level. With the bookies offering evens on a home win, it looked one of the best bets of the weekend.
More often than not, though, the turf accounts get things wrong and this was such an occasion.
With the exception of Fyvie and goalkeeper Deniz, no one did enough for anyone to expect to see them retain their place for Sunday.
It should be said centre-half Paul Quinn was seeing action for the first time since a mid-September heart scare, so he was always unlikely to be in the frame for the next league outing.
Kids apart, for the rest it was a chance to impress their new boss and show they were worth consideration. None of them did that.
It means they can expect to be on the fringes of the team for a while longer and, after Saturday’s carelessness, they only have themselves to blame.