Dundee United boss Tam Courts insists his side were “worthy” winners after Ian Harkes’ late goal settled a tightly-contested Dundee derby.
Courts felt the introduction of substitute midfielder Dylan Levitt at the start of the second half was crucial to the hosts seizing the upper hand following a first half in which Dundee had the better of the few clear-cut chances.
The United manager, savouring victory in his first derby since taking charge in the summer, said: “It was exhilarating. I thought I knew what to expect but it was even better.
“It’s a phenomenal feeling. I thought it was a really good performance. The goal came at a perfect time. I felt pretty secure at that point in the game because I could see us taking control of the ball. Dylan Levitt was dictating the game and Dundee were starting to tire and drop deeper. I thought we were well worthy of the victory.”
The win came on a weekend when United paid tribute to their former manager Jim McLean by unveiling a statue in his honour at Tannadice and then holding a minute’s applause before kick-off.
Courts felt it was fitting that his side won the first derby since McLean passed away on Boxing Day last year.
He said: “I was at the (statue) unveiling last night and it was a very poignant ceremony. The McLean family were here today so in terms of planning and preparation, the fact that unveiling happened before the match, I thought it was a fitting timeline. It fed a lot of our performance today and it got us the result in the end.
“I didn’t use it in my team talk. The first thing that is brought in a derby game is energy and emotion. I think what the players need from me is clarity, detail and an idea of how we could go and win the game. The players knew what it meant to have the McLean family here today so indirectly it may have played a part.”
Dundee manager James McPake felt the match could just as easily have gone in his side’s favour as he rued a sixth league game without victory.
He said: “Both teams could have won that game on the basis of chances. I think we had the clearer-cut ones – any two of us could have been standing here on the back of a 1-0 win.
“We started well and controlled the first half, but United started better than us in the second half.
“It was back to the same old story, creating chances but not taking them. The players are devastated because they believe they did enough to win the game.”
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