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We deserved to beat Dundee United, says Linfield defender

Dundee Utd 1 Linfield 0

By Paul Burrows

Mark Haughey believes Linfield had their pockets picked in Saturday's Irn Burn Scottish Challenge Cup third round defeat by Dundee United at Tannadice Park.

Although the Irish League champions dominated large chunks of the game, they were caught cold with practically the last kick when Logan Chalmers nicked the winner.

The Blues will reflect on a series of missed opportunities, with Andy Waterworth, looking as good as new after a horrible 11-week injury lay-off and Robert Garrett, Aaron Burns and Kirk Millar, all testing United goalkeeper Deniz Mehmet.

With the clock ticking down, Linfield perhaps had a let-off when Graham Taylor's sizzling low drive cannoned back off a post - the Scottish side's only genuine opportunity.

Extra-time looked more of a probability than a possibility when four minutes was flashed up by the fourth official on the stoppage time board.

With the referee glancing at his watch, Taylor again tried his luck, but this time Blues shot-stopper Gareth Deane - standing in for Roy Carroll who was on international duty - managed to beat away the effort only for Chalmers to pounce on the rebound and fire home.

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The Linfield heads visibly dropped - and no wonder. They were victims of a late smash and grab that they certainly didn't deserve.

"I think it would be fair to say that we were the better team over the 90 minutes," said Haughey, who was a tower of strength along with Mark Stafford in the heart of the Blues defence.

"It was a cruel way to lose a game, it was practically the last kick of the match. To be fair, they had their best spell over the last 10 or 15 minutes or so. For the first time, they began to have a bit of belief and they began to push us back. Perhaps, they sensed there were a few tired legs.

"But it was a blow to all of us because we thought it was a tie we could win."

Although the Blues fired blanks in a match the bossed, Haughey insisted it was still a positive performance.

"We didn't put away the chances we created, but that happens," he added. "When you don't put the ball in the net when you are on top, it can come back to bite you.

"It's not the fault of the boys up front because goals can come from anywhere in our team, as we've over the past season or two.

"We kept the ball well and our shape was good, we were comfortable enough for large parts of the match. There is no point beating ourselves up over it. It's gone. We took enough positives out of our performance.

"It was great preparation for our league game against Coleraine at the weekend. That's now a massive match for both sides. They have been going well and are unbeaten this season.

"They have made great progress under Oran Kearney in recent seasons, a lot of their young players have matured into good Irish League players. But we'll get a good few training sessions under our belt this week and we'll be ready for it."

Dundee Utd: Mehmet, Murdoch, N'Koyi, Stanton, Allardice, Smith, Taylor, Ritchie, Hornby (Dailly, 80 mins), Thomas, Piggott (Chalmers, 66 mins). Unused subs: Donaldson, Glass, Reekie, Davidson, Appere.

Linfield: Deane, Haughey, Stafford, Robinson, M Clarke, Garrett, Mitchell (R Clarke, 79 mins), Mulgrew, Millar, Waterworth (J Stewart, 75 mins), Burns. Unused subs: Moore, Casement, Fallon, Lowry, Adams.

Man of the match: Robert Garrett

Match rating: 7/10

Referee: Iwan Griffith

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