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Courts: United were worthy winners in ‘exhilarating’ Dundee derby

The United manager felt the win was fitting on the day after Jim McLean's statue was unveiled.

Courts: United were worthy winners in ‘exhilarating’ Dundee derby SNS Group
Courts saw United win in his first derby as manager.

Tam Courts felt his Dundee United side were deserved victors in the first derby of the season and was pleased to see the team win the fixture just hours after the statue of club legend Jim McLean was unveiled.

Ian Harkes scored an 81st minute goal to settle the contest, with United continuing a long unbeaten run against their rivals at Tannadice.

For Courts, the match marked his first derby as manager and he admitted that the game had delivered more than he had bargained for.

“It was exhilarating, to say the least,” he said. “I thought I knew what I was expecting but it was even better.

“When you win it’s a phenomenal feeling. I thought it was a really good performance by us. The goal came at a perfect time when we were trying to get the breakthrough.

“What a strike from Ian Harkes.”

Dundee had created opportunities and were on top in the first half but United improved after the break. Courts believes the difference was the introduction of Dylan Levitt.

The manager said that despite the clock ticking down with the teams locked at 0-0 he still believed the decisive moment would come from his side.

He said: “I felt pretty secure at that point in the game because I could see us taking control of the ball, Dylan Levitt was dictating the game essentially. I could see that Dundee were starting to tire and drop a bit deeper.

“And they did have a couple of decent chances that we did well to block and put bodies on the line. I thought we were really well worthy of the victory.”

The match had extra significance for United, being the first derby since the death of Jim McLean, the club’s most successful manager. It also came the day after a statue commemorating McLean and his achievements was unveiled outside the stadium.

“I was at unveiling last night and it was a very poignant ceremony,” Courts said. “The McLean family were here today so in terms of planning and preparation, the fact that unveiling happened before the match, I thought it was a fitting timeline.

“It fed a lot of our performance today and it got us the result in the end.

“I didn’t use it in my team talk. The first thing that is brought in a derby game is energy and emotion. I think what the players need from me is clarity, detail and an idea of how we could go and win the game.

“The players knew what it meant to have the McLean family here today so indirectly it may have played a part.”

Dundee boss James McPake’s disappointment was compounded by his belief that his players had created enough opportunities to win the game.

“It was back to the same old story, creating chances but not taking them,” he said. “The players are devastated because they believe they did enough to win the game.”