Billy McKay strikes at the death to give Dundee United a point
A LAST-GASP header by Billy McKay gave bottom side Dundee United a 2-2 Ladbrokes Premiership draw against 10-man Dundee in an incident-packed and frenzied derby at Tannadice.
A first-half double from Kane Hemmings, taking his tally to 22 for the season, handed the visitors what looked like an unassailable lead but it all changed four minutes after the break when Dundee goalkeeper Scott Bain was sent off by referee Steven McLean for a last-man tackle on McKay. The United forward scored the penalty past substitute custodian David Mitchell and the rest of the match saw Paul Hartley's side defend with increasing desperation until McKay eventually levelled as the match moved into added-on time.
There was no one happier than United boss Mixu Paatelainen, whose response to the Dundee fans behind him who had taunted him all day was remarkable, but it still left his side seven points behind Kilmarnock with a game in hand.
Dundee had taken four points from two previous meetings and consequently strolled down the street from Dens Park before the game with some confidence. Hartley kept the same starters from last week's defeat by Hearts but amid a scrappy start, he was forced into a change in the 16th minute with defender Thomas Konrad replacing Kostadin Godzhalov, who had injured his shoulder.
If nothing else, Dundee's opener in the 34th minute was deserved on pressure. Paul McGowan's deflected drive broke kindly to the unmarked Hemmings 10 yards out and he forced it through the legs of United goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, back from a thigh injury, and despite the attention of backtracking defender Gavin Gunning the ball ended in the net.
Hartley had to rearrange his side again six minutes later when substitute Konrad was replaced by midfielder Nicky Low after picking up an injury, with Kevin Holt moving into the left-sided centre-back position. But there was more joy for the Dens Park men in the 44th minute when Hemmings made it 2-0 from a Greg Stewart pass, with the visiting fans unconcerned about the untidy finish from a yard out. The home side were unhappy when Stewart challenged Paul Dixon, leaving the United defender prostrate, which led to some ill-feeling as the players went up the tunnel.
Four minutes after the break, United were back in the game with Dundee down to 10 men and having used all three substitutes. When McKay went down inside the box after running on to a Ryan Dow pass, referee McLean flashed red at Bain and after substitute Low was replaced by Mitchell, the Northern Irishman netted the penalty.
Having used all three substitutes, Hartley and the Dundee fans faced a fraught second-half. Edward Ofere came on for Henri Anier in the 67th minute as United went for a more direct route and had two headers saved by Mitchell, both from corners by substitute Scott Fraser, who had come on for Dow.
United threw everything forward with Dundee, tiring by the minute, and lone striker Hemmings all but out on his feet, struggling to hang on. Seconds after the board went up for four minutes added time, a long ball from Gavin Gunning was knocked on by Ofere and McKay headed in from almost on the line as the home supporters and Paatelainen exploded in joy.
A great save by Mitchell from Gunning's header moments afterwards prevented an even more dramatic outcome but this match had more than enough talking points.