When St Johnstone and Dundee United take to the field on Saturday at Celtic Park in the Final of the Scottish Cup it will be the fourth time that the teams will have come together in this famous competition.
This is the final part of my look back at the previous three encounters.
The 19 years that had elapsed between the 2010 tie and the 1991 semi final at East End Park had seen both teams fortunes ebb and flow. In Saints case relegation to the first division was followed by promotion again in 1997 and the highs of the Sturrock/Clark period which culminated with a League Cup final appearance and the exhilaration of UEFA Cup matches with VPS Vaasa and AS Monaco. The pain of another relegation with a further period in the lower division was eased by winning the Challenge Cup in 2007 and then by Manager Derek McInnes’ successfully navigating a return to the SPL in 2009.
In the 4th Round of the 2010 Scottish Cup a Kenny Deuchar strike and two Liam Craig goals had given Saints a comfortable 3 – 0 win at Station Park over Forfar Athletic.
Earlier in the season Saints had knocked United out of the League Cup at McDiarmid Park, winning 2 – 1 with the help of two own goals. However, on the Wednesday night prior to this match Saints had lost 2 – 0 in the League Cup semi final to Rangers at Hampden.
Manager Derek McInnes selected the following team for the 5th Round match at McDiarmid Park on 6 February 2010: – Graeme Smith, Gary Irvine, Danny Grainger, Michael Duberry, Dave Mackay, Jody Morris, Chris Millar, Murray Davidson, Filipe Morais, Kenny Deuchar, Steven Milne. Subs: – Alan Main, Mark Connolly, Paul Sheerin, Peter MacDonald, Cillian Sheridan.
The former Chelsea and Leeds United player Michael Duberry had arrived in Perth the previous day and was making his St Johnstone debut when he partnered Dave Mackay in the centre of defence.
It was the visitors who opened the brighter and in just 6 minutes Graeme Smith had to make a good save to keep out a fierce Goodwillie shot from a tight angle.
Then in 15 minutes Saints had a strong penalty claim turned down after Daly had blatantly fouled Murray Davidson in the penalty box. However, to the consternation of Saints players and fans alike, the referee said “no pen!”
Five minutes later and Smith was again called into action when he saved a Swanson header.
For some time play swung from end to end without any real threat to either goal until the 40th minute when again the Saints No 1 thwarted Goodwillie to keep Saints on level terms.
However, seconds before half time the United striker scored what would prove to be the only goal of the game from a melee following a corner. This time Goodwillie was on hand to thump the ball into the roof of the net after Smith, who initially appeared to have the ball in his grasp, dropped it under severe pressure from United players.
Saints best chance came five minutes into the second half when Peter MacDonald latched on to a Filipe Morais pass and rounded the keeper, only to watch in anguish as his parting shot was cleared off the goal line.
The after effects of the stamina sapping semi final with Rangers now seemed to be catching up with Saints players as, particularly in midfield, they appeared to be struggling to get higher energy levels and rhythm into their play.
Late on in an effort to salvage the match Duberry was sent forward but it was substitute Paul Sheerin who came closest to equalising. The midfield maestro had replaced Murray Davidson midway through the half but his last gasp glancing header went over the bar.
In time added on David Robertson rattled the Saints bar with a rasping shot and so the match ended 1 – 0 with “The Terrors” progressing to the next round.
On the day Saints did not do themselves justice and the after effects of the Rangers game just 3 days earlier was clearly a factor in the outcome of this match.
For the record, Dundee United eventually went on to win the Scottish Cup defeating Ross County 3 – 0 in the Hampden Final.
So Saturday’s Scottish Cup Final is set up for Saints to redress the balance between these old rivals and to bring the famous trophy to Perth for the first time in the club’s 130 years history.
Come On You Saints.