Narey’s prayer is answered by the United centurion
PAUL McMULLAN savoured a magical 100th appearance for Championship leaders Dundee United after club legend Dave Narey challenged him to mark the occasion with a goal.
The 23-year-old winger duly obliged with the opener in a comprehensive victory over Queen of the South which moved Robbie Neilson’s men nine points ahead of second-placed Ayr United and 12 clear of city rivals Dundee.
McMullan had been presented with a commemorative jersey by Narey prior to kick-off and later revealed that the 63-year-old former Tannadice and Scotland defender had urged him to make the day truly special by hitting the target for the title chasers.
‘It absolutely was special,’ said McMullan, who scored midway through the first half with a classy finish from outside the box.
‘It was a nice touch from the club to give me the jersey and to get it presented to me by a legend like David Narey was really good.
‘To top it off with a goal was great. He actually asked me for a goal.
‘I did my best to deliver that for him and hopefully he enjoyed the game. It was certainly nice to meet him.’
McMullan, who joined Dundee United from Celtic in the summer of 2017 following loan spells with Stenhousemuir, St Mirren, Morton and Dunfermline, is currently playing a key role in the club’s bid to return to the top flight.
‘I had seen in the match programme a couple of weeks ago that I was getting close (to 100 appearances),’ he said. ‘I didn’t realise until I had seen something online that I had made it. It’s a nice achievement.
‘It doesn’t seem like it has taken me a long time to get there, to be honest. I feel as if the time has gone in quite quickly because it has only been two-and-a-bit years for me here.
‘But that’s a lot of games I have played and, hopefully, there are a lot more to come for me.’
Striker Nicky Clark doubled United’s advantage just prior to half-time before midfielder Sam Stanton struck early in the second period.
The victory was made all the more impressive as United were without star striker Lawrence Shankland, who was in Cyprus with Scotland on European Championship qualifying duty. McMullan says it showed that Neilson’s men can cope without their talismanic forward, who has already scored 19 goals for the club this season.
‘Lawrence is our No9, so when you create the number of chances we do, it is natural that he is the one who is scoring most of the goals,’ said McMullan.
‘What this result shows, though, is that we can get goals from other areas of the pitch, which is always nice.
‘For my goal, I had a lot of time to think about it because Louis Appere had two or three touches before he laid the ball back to me.
‘My shot ended up exactly where I hoped it was going to go, so I was really pleased with the finish.
‘It’s also so important getting these clean sheets because that’s what results are built on.
‘The guys at the back have been brilliant and long may that continue as well.’
United boss Neilson said: ‘We’ve now got a two-week break before we play Morton at Cappielow, but it’s important we keep our focus.
‘If we can keep winning, then we will be where we want to be come the end of the season.’
Queens boss Allan Johnston was far less satisfied than his Tannadice counterpart.
‘We are really frustrated with the sloppiness of the goals we conceded,’ said Johnston.
‘When you’re playing the best team in the league, then you have got to take your chances. But we failed to do that.
‘It’s going to be tough for anyone to stop United now.
‘You would imagine that Dundee will be up there but, at this moment in time, it looks as though it will be difficult for anyone else.’
Loud and proud: McMullan struck United’s opening goal Century boy: United legend Narey presented McMullan with a commemorative shirt to mark his 100th appearance