Fyvie (90+3) – Tidser (11 pen)
Dundee United substitute Fraser Fyvie denied Jonatan Johansson a winning start to his time at Morton by equalising right at the death to snatch a share of the spoils at Tannadice today.
Midfielder Michael Tidser gave the visitors an 11th-minute lead with a masterfully despatched spot-kick following a foul on Gregor Buchanan by Tangerines debutant Rachid Bouhenna.
The visitors defended superbly well in the second half and looked to have all three points in the bag until Fyvie struck in the third minute of stoppage time.
After a nine-day wait to take charge of the team due to a free weekend, Johansson selected the same starting XI that faced Partick Thistle in the club’s last outing, albeit set out in a 4-4-2 formation.
Playmaker Tidser, who partnered Jim McAlister in the engine room, has thrown off the shackles this term, and that tremendous start to the campaign continued unabated despite a regime change.
With just 25 seconds gone, the 28-year-old surged forward and unleashed a swerving drive that just swung away from goal at the very last and shaved the left-hand upright.
It was from his inswinging corner that Buchanan was fouled by Dundee United debutant Rachid Bouhenna as they jockeyed for position on 11 minutes.
Tidser took charge from the spot and, with ice in the veins, opened out his body and placed an imperious a spot-kick into the top-left corner, sending goalkeeper Matej Rakovan the wrong way in the process.
The successful conversion – his sixth out of seven over the course of the past three seasons – took Ton’s top scorer’s tally to six goals in nine appearances so far this season.
Bob McHugh is second in the club’s leading marksman list, and he went close to doubling their tally on 25 minutes, smashing a powerful volley just wide from a tight angle on the right of the Dundee United box.
The visitors began to threaten Ryan Scully’s goal in the final quarter hour of the first half, with Yanick Loemba asking questions down the Ton right.
On 31 minutes, the Congolese winger swung over a cross from the left flank that Pavol Safranko attacked with a towering header that flashed wide of the right post.
Loemba wasn’t getting it all his own way, though, and Chris Millar, tasked with supporting Reghan Tumilty on the right, covered in the full-back position and dispossessed the wideman to come out on top in a one-on-one duel.
It was from the opposite side of the park that the hosts created their best opportunity of the half, Fraser Aird checking back onto his left foot and flighting over a centre that found Safranko arriving around the back.
The Slovak international connected with all the power of his earlier effort but hit the target this time, and it appeared destined for the back of the net until Scully acrobatically clawed the ball clear at his top-right corner.
Both sides passed up significant opportunities to score game-changing goals on the cusp of half-time, beginning with Ton striker Denny Johnstone bursting clear before seeing a side-footed effort blocked by Rakovan.
The Tangerines could have punished that missed opportunity moments later when Craig Curran surged into space on the inside right, but the hitman only succeeded in sweeping into the side-netting.
Near misses continued after the break, with 6ft 3in centre-half Buchanan coming within a whisker of connecting with a Rory McKeown cross after throwing himself at the ball.
With Csaba Laszlo’s side stepping up their search for an equaliser, Johansson made the decision to replace Ross MacLean with Kerr Waddell and move to a 3-5-2 in order to add protection in the face of that extra pressure.
They stood up superbly well to what Dundee United had to throw at them, with Waddell, Buchanan, and Lee Kilday pillars of strength at the heart of the defence.
Morton also looked dangerous at set-plays, Johnstone and Kilday going close from a long throw and an outswinging corner respectively.
But it was from a throw-in launched into the box that the visitors were eventually undone when sub Fyvie capitalised on a failure to fully clear their lines by drilling a half-volley into the net to seize a point.
Although it was a heart-breaking ending, the goal coming with around 30 seconds of added time remaining, the 325 travelling fans made a point of waiting behind to applaud the team and their new gaffer for their efforts.
14. Tumilty 2. Kilday 4. Buchanan 25. McKeown
7. Millar 8. McAlister 12. Tidser 19. MacLean
11. McHugh 9. Johnstone
Subs used: 5. Waddell (for MacLean, 67), 6. Telfer (for Millar, 79), and 17. Tiffoney (for Johnstone, 90+1).
Subs not used: 3. Iredale, 21. Langan, 22. Armour, 1. Gaston (gk).
Booked: MacLean (41), Tidser (90+1).
Dundee United (442): Rakovan; Watson, Bouhenna, Frans, Booth; Aird, Barton (Fyvie, 73), Rabitsch, Loemba; Curran (McMullan, 82), Safranko.
Subs not used: Smith, Robson, Edjenguele, Siegrist (gk).
Booked: Bouhenna (11), Barton (57), Rabitsch (69).
Referee: Colin Steven
Attendance: 4,594 (325 away fans)
⭐️ Star Man: Michael Tidser
Image: Gary Bradley