With almost a fully fit squad to pick from and competition for places at an all time high this season, the players were eager to secure their slot in the squad for next Sunday’s Scottish Cup Old Firm clash. 

Well today the effort was certainly there but unfortunately there were few other positive factors to take from the game.

Henning Berg and Shota Arveladze were both rested this afternoon but Craig Moore, Michael Mols and Michael Ball did return to the starting line-up.

Mols netted an excellent goal last week against Hibs to end his three-month SPL barren spell and the first real chance of the match this afternoon fell to the Dutchman.

In the 12th minute Christian Nerlinger floated in a cross from the left and although Mols got his header goal-bound, he was always stretching and Gallacher watched it land on the roof of the net.

After impressing for 81 minutes against Celtic a fortnight ago United were out to reproduce their good form and Charlie Miller started brightly in midfield.

Mid way through the first half the former Ranger was tripped on the edge of the box by Emerson and Mark Wilson sent a curling free kick around the wall but Klos was equal to the youngster’s effort and held comfortably.

Minutes later Rangers really should have taken the lead. Nuno Capucho crossed from the right and although Wilson cleared the immediate danger his header fell to Arteta but the Spaniard’s shot deflected onto Gallager’s right-hand post and out.

With the Old Firm game looming Alex McLeish was looking for a positive performance from his players, but disaster struck in the 31st minute when Mark Kerr hit his first goal for the Tangerines.

Jim McIntyre headed down Andy McLaren’s cross in the box and Kerr unleashed a fierce half volley, which Klos could only parry onto the bar, before it dropped into the net.

Three minutes later things went from bad to worse for the visitors when McLaren himself doubled United’s lead.

The Rangers defence didn’t deal with Barry Robson’s corner and McLaren out-manoeuvred both Moore and Ricksen at the back post to head home from close range.

Rangers tried to react positively and Frank de Boer almost pulled one back with a superb free kick but despite beating Gallacher, Chris Innes was well positioned to head out for a corner.

Unfortunately Big Eck’s men couldn’t sustain their pressure and only the cross bar saved Gers from going further behind in the 41st minute when McLaren’s volley, from the edge of the box, smashed off the woodwork.

At the break there is no doubt the manager had several choice words with his side and decided to make actions speak louder than words with a double substitution.

Mo Ross and former United hitman Steven Thompson replaced Emerson and Arteta respectively.

10 minutes later McLeish then introduced Gavin Rae to make his first appearance since January 3. 

Unfortunately though the Light Blues still couldn’t break down a well-organised United and although they did enjoy more possession than in the first half, chances in front of Gallacher’s goal were still few and far between.

In the 73rd minute Rae linked well on the left with Thompson to play in Mols, but the former Utrecht star’s shot could only find the side netting from a tight angle.

Skipper Craig Moore returned to the side following his trip to Venezuela but took a sore blow 14 minutes from time when he collided with Barry Robson.

The United midfielder appeared to knee Moore in the thigh and while it was totally unintentional, the Australian was in severe discomfort.

With all three substitutes already used, however, Moore was forced to hobble through the rest of the match.

A disappointing afternoon to say the least and McLeish must work his magic over the next week in order to avoid a Scottish Cup exit at Parkhead.

DUNDEE united: Gallacher, Wilson, Innes, McCracken, Archibald, McLaren, Kerr, McInnes, Robson, Miller, McIntyre 

Subs: Jarvie , Samuel , Duff , Easton , Scotland

RANGERS: Klos, Ricksen, Moore, F de Boer, Ball, Capucho, Arteta (Thompson 45), Emerson (Ross 45), Nerlinger (Rae 56), R de Boer, Mols 

Subs: McGregor, Namouchi

Referee: John Underhill

Man-of-the-match: Stefan Klos

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