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Oran Kearney confident St Mirren can survive after first leg stalemate in play-off

Dundee Utd 0 St Mirren 0

Honours even: St Mirren manager Oran Kearney
Honours even: St Mirren manager Oran Kearney

By Ronnie Esplin

Boss Oran Kearney denied St Mirren have the advantage over Dundee United after the goalless Ladbrokes Premiership play-off final first leg at Tannadice.

After a mostly dull encounter watched by a healthy and enthusiastic crowd of 11,062 fans, most in tangerine, the two teams will prepare to meet again in the second leg in Paisley on Sunday.

The Buddies, who finished 11th in the top flight, are now unbeaten in seven games but former Coleraine manager Kearney railed at the idea that the tie has swung towards his side.

He said: “No, not for me. The most important thing at this point in time is the scoreline.

“It is 0-0 at half-time, that’s the way we will be approaching it. We put in a good performance and kept a clean sheet.

“From an attacking threat we had two or three really good opportunities and but for a couple of outstanding saves we might have nicked it 1-0 but in general we have got to be happy with the attitude and application and more than anything the way we handled the pressure.

“We stood strong at the right moments. It is now down to 90 minutes on Sunday at our place.

“We are very confident that we can do it, particularly because the performances and results in the last six to eight weeks have shown us the capabilities of this side. The key thing is we keep that level of performance for one last time.”

Dundee United manager Robbie Neilson was not surprised by how tense the game was but remains confident.

Neilson said: “The first leg is always an edgy one and no one wants to take a risk.

“We go there with a really good chance. I was really proud and was pleased with the players, in the first half we took the ball and tried to move it and got through the lines a few times.

“We wanted to win the game. I would like to be sitting with a lead but if you’d offered me a 0-0 to take down there beforehand I would have taken that.

“We are looking forward to it, it is a great opportunity for us.”

Tthe first half lacked quality with only a couple of chances created and missed by either side and the game livened up only briefly after the break before descending back into a mostly dull contest which produced little excitement.

Both sets of fans will look for more from their respective teams when they meet again in the second leg in Paisley on Sunday.

The Taysiders went into the game unchanged following their encouraging 3-0 win over Inverness on Friday night, which sealed an aggregate play-off semi-final victory.

Saints, cheered by over 1,000 travelling fans, had defenders Lee Hodson and Gary MacKenzie and striker Cody Cooke, who scored hat-trick as a substitute in the 3-2 win against Dundee at Dens Park at the weekend, back in the side.

United threatened early when Ian Harkes took a clever pass from Paul McMullan and fired in a drive which was blocked by visiting midfielder Ryan Flynn for a corner which came to nothing.

Set-pieces appeared to offer the biggest threat from the Paisley side.

In the 15th minute, United skipper Mark Reynolds was relieved to see his wayward header from Kyle McAllister's whipped-in free-kick saved by his own keeper Benjamin Siegrist.

Moments later, at the other end, McMullan raced on to a long clearance from Nicky Clark but, under pressure from chasing defender Mihai Popescu, he drove straight at Vaclav Hladky.

United keeper Siegrist had the best and most spectacular save of the first half just before the break when he threw himself high to his right to palm away a curling effort from McAllister.

The Tannadice number one also started the second half by making great save at point-blank range from a Kyle Magennis effort, after Hodson had headed back a deep cross from Flynn.

The Terrors responded and McMullan flashed two dangerous deliveries across St Mirren's six-yard box but found no takers.

With his side struggling to get the breakthrough, United boss Robbie Neilson threw on all three substitutes - Pavol Safranko, Sam Stanton and Callum Booth - but to no avail as the game petered out, to be resumed in Paisley.

DUNDEE UNITED: Siegrist, Watson, Connolly, Reynolds, Robson, Harkes, Bouhenna, McMullan, Clark (Stanton, 68 mins), Pawlett (Booth, 73 mins), Sow (Safranko, 59 mins).

Subs not used: Frans, Smith, Smith, Laidlaw.

ST MIRREN: Hladky, McGinn, MacKenzie, Baird, Popescu, Magennis, Hodson, McGinn, Flynn, McAllister, Cooke (Mullen, 90 mins).

Substitutes: Muzek, Nazon, Holmes, MacPherson, Ferdinand, Erhahon.

Referee: Bobby Madden

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