Dundee United's relegation confirmed following defeat at Motherwell
Dundee United’s relegation from the cinch Premiership was confirmed as they fell to a 3-2 defeat at Motherwell.
The Terrors required a victory and an eight-goal swing in goal difference to avoid the drop but they were unable to produce a great escape at Fir Park.
Kevin van Veen took his incredible scoring run to 11 consecutive matches by breaking the deadlock after five minutes – setting a new Scottish Premiership record in the process.
United responded through Jamie McGrath’s penalty and Steven Fletcher coolly fired Jim Goodwin’s side ahead early in the second half, but Motherwell would come surging back.
Blair Spittal levelled after 69 minutes before Max Johnston grabbed a winner shortly after having a goal ruled out for offside.
Spittal saw a shot gathered at the second time of asking as the home side threatened in the first minute.
The opening goal arrived after five minutes when Sean Goss dispossessed Glenn Middleton and slid a neat through ball to Van Veen, who coolly rounded the goalkeeper before slamming the ball into the net.
United were in desperate need of a response, and a good stop by Liam Kelly prevented Middleton drawing them level in the 10th minute. Fletcher was then denied an equaliser by an excellent goal-line clearance from Paul McGinn.
Van Veen almost doubled his tally after he connected with Stephen O’Donnell’s cross, only for his header to clip the crossbar and drift over the top.
Referee Steven MacLean awarded the visitors a penalty following a VAR check on the half-hour which showed Bevis Mugabi to have handled inside the area.
McGrath stepped up to take the resulting spot-kick and he powerfully dispatched the ball beyond the reach of Kelly to restore parity for Goodwin’s men.
Mikael Mandron passed up a glorious chance to head Motherwell back in front when he failed to hit the target following good work from Van Veen.
Fletcher’s close-range header struck the outside of a post just before half-time, though the striker would complete the turnaround three minutes into the second half – giving their travelling supporters a glimmer of hope that they could orchestrate a miracle turnaround.
Peter Pawlett did well to link with McGrath before surging forward, and he teed-up Fletcher for the simplest of finishes past Kelly.
A superb save by Jack Newman prevented Mugabi’s point-blank header from finding the net and there was a further chance for Mandron before James Furlong’s low drive somehow stayed out after striking a post and flashing across the goal-line.
The equaliser eventually arrived with 21 minutes remaining on the clock, Spittal drilling the ball beyond the despairing Newman from the edge of the box.
Johnston saw a goal ruled out for offside as the home side continued to press and Goss really should have taken on a shot himself rather than squaring the ball to Van Veen who was hampered by a tight angle.
Johnston was not to denied second time around when he found the net again with eight minutes left on the clock, turning home Furlong’s cross to put beyond any doubt that the Tannadice side would be relegated.