Tony Watt sent off as Dundee United slip to defeat against Motherwell

Motherwell were 1-0 winners but VAR was under the spotlight again.

Tony Watt sent off as Dundee United slip to defeat against Motherwell SNS Group

Tony Watt was sent off following a VAR intervention as Motherwell beat Dundee United 1-0 at Tannadice.

Sondre Solholm proved to be the match-winner after his 22nd-minute header was palmed over the line by recalled goalkeeper Mark Birighitti.

Former Well striker Watt was sent off five minutes before the break following a challenge on Sean Goss in the centre circle.

Referee John Beaton had played on but showed a straight red card after being called to his monitor by video assistant David Munro. Footage showed Watt had caught his former team-mate with his studs high up the shin.

Motherwell had suffered four consecutive defeats before their trip to Tayside but they moved into the cinch Premiership top six with their fourth away win of the season.

The home side were sent back to the bottom of the table and head coach Liam Fox could now face a dilemma over his goalkeeper after dropping Carljohan Eriksson and seeing Birighitti make an unconvincing attempt to save Solholm’s header.

The Australian had not played since suffering a hamstring injury in mid-August after conceding 11 goals in a week.

United forced some early corners and Steven Fletcher came close with an acrobatic overhead kick after Callum Slattery had cleared Ryan Edwards’ header off the line.

Connor Shields missed two good chances to get his first goal of the season and put Motherwell ahead. The forward shot straight at Birighitti after a brilliant run from Matt Penney and then blazed over from 10 yards after being set up by Kevin van Veen during a counter-attack.

The opener came after United were slow to react to a free-kick that was rolled short to Blair Spittal as most players waited for Goss to launch a free-kick into the box. Spittal’s cross found Solholm’s head and Birighitti could only palm the ball up in the air and watch it spin back and over the line.

The Australian soon flapped at a corner – Goss saw a shot charged down and then sliced the follow-up – before the goalkeeper slipped as he took a goal-kick.

The red card followed but United got some encouragement early in the second half when Liam Kelly saved well from substitute Ian Harkes following Fletcher’s lay-off.

Motherwell, who lost Solholm to injury, could not use their numerical advantage to control proceedings and United were arguably playing better with 10 men than they had with a full complement.

The home fans called for the referee to even the teams after Jamie McGrath went down when Slattery went in with a high boot, although he appeared to get the ball. There was no free-kick or VAR review.

Motherwell eventually forced play further into United’s territory after sitting deep for the opening spell of the second half, and the final quarter played out without any major chances at either end.

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