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Nicky Clark brace fires Dundee United to victory

St Mirren v Dundee Utd – Ladbrokes Premiership Play-off – Final – Second Leg – Simple Digital Arena
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

A double from Nicky Clark saw Dundee United defeat Ross County 2-1 on a blustery afternoon at Tannadice.

The forward netted a first-half penalty then scored from close range early in the second period to hand Micky Mellon’s side their first Premiership win since mid-September.

County got a goal back late in the game from substitute Oli Shaw but United held on to claim the victory.

Mellon had made three changes from the team that had drawn 0-0 with St Johnstone the previous weekend. In came Liam Smith, Peter Pawlett and Calum Butcher, with Marc McNulty, Mark Connolly and Dillon Powers dropping out.

Their visitors also made three switches on the back of their 4-0 defeat away to Motherwell. Out went Tom Grivosti, Michael Gardyne and Harry Paton, replaced by Stephen Kelly, Billy McKay and Connor Randall.

Randall did not last long on his return, however, hobbling off after just 11 minutes to be replaced by Grivosti.

The first chance of the game went to United, with Peter Pawlett unable to redirect Luke Bolton’s cross on target. County responded with a Charlie Lakin header from Grivosti’s cross that was easily saved by Benjamin Siegrist.

It was the home side who went in front after 19 minutes. Bolton’s header into the box was handled by Iain Vigurs and Clark confidently struck home his penalty.

United then nearly scored one of the goals of the season, making their way from one end of the pitch to the other with a number of slick, one-touch passes. Only the finish let them down with Pawlett sliding his effort past the far post.

County’s response was a McKay drilled effort that the goalkeeper again dealt with comfortably.

The home team extended their advantage after 52 minutes. Pawlett floated in a free-kick that was met by Reynolds, whose header was blocked. The defender was quickest to react to shoot beyond Ross Doohan and Clark got the final touch to claim his second goal of the game.

United handed a debut to recent Cameroon signing Jeando Fuchs but it was County who scored next, Lakin sliding a pass through to Shaw who applied a calm finish to give the visitors some late hope. The home side, though, held firm to take the points.