Stand Free's Scottish Cup Third Round Preview

Last updated : 06 January 2006 By Stand Free Ed
Tomorrow's Scottish Cup Third Round fixture between Aberdeen and Dundee United at Tannadice gives the Dons the chance to avenge the defeat in the quarter final of last year's competition.

And in last season's disasterous 4-1 defeat at Tannadice, a certain Stevie Crawford was crucially involved in three of United's four goals. For the first, from Robson's free-kick, Crawford's shot was blocked on the line and the rebound was knocked in by Archibald.

For the third goal Brebner's chip was controlled by Jason Scotland, now at St Johnstone, who slipped the ball through to Crawford to score. In the second half, following some excellent passing between Scotland and Crawford, the latter fired the ball towards Grady who teed it up, and volleyed the ball into the far corner from 14 yards.

Crawford is now, of course, wearing red during his working day and Dons fans will be hoping that he can similarly inspire his team to victory in the cup. After having an inglorious start to his Pittodrie career, scoring only 3 times in his 17 starts for the Dons, Stevie will be desperate to win over the Dons fans who have recently booed him off (and on to) the pitch.

It is startling to see the difference a year makes in football, particularly post-Bosman and firmly in the era of short-term contracts, loan deals and amateur forms. Last years teams lined up like this:

United: Bullock, Duff, Wilson, Ritchie, Archibald, Kerr, Brebner, Scotland, Crawford, Robson, Grady
Dons: Esson, McNaughton, Hart, Diamond, Anderson, Byrne, Winter, Heikkinen, Whelan, Mackie, Clark

Mark Wilson is doubtful for the upcoming game but should make it, but with Paul Ritchie out and Peter Canero off to the USA United are likely to line up on Saturday with this team:

United: Stillie, Archibald, McCracken, Duff, Samuel, Wilson, Fernandez, Robson, Kerr, McIntyre, Miller

Saturday's game comes too early for the Dons' long term injury victims Scott Severin and Michael Hart, and Zander Diamond may still be missing after dropping out of last week's team that faced Inverness Caley Thistle. Former United midfielder Danny Griffin is fit and ready for the match, but may well have to settle for a place on the bench. Aberdeen will probably line up:

Dons: Langfield, Muirhead, Byrne, McNaughton, Anderson, Clark, Smith, Crawford, Nicholson, Dempsey, Lovell

There are no less than six changes to the United team from last year's line-up - seven if you include the change in manager. Aberdeen have also seen seven personnel changes in the same period.

Despite both teams failing to provide performances and results in the league, and both sitting well into the bottom half of the SPL, the game is likely to see some great action and hopefully some blood-and-thunder. The cup always seems to bring out the best in Scottish Football and indeed it was a struggling United side that was victorious in last season's game despite sitting at the bottom of the table while the Dons were chasing Europe.

That is was United that achieved entry to this season's UEFA Cup has not gone unnoticed by Dons fans, and we are desperate for this season not to end up a damp squib after last season's relative success. A good cup run is now vital to keep interest up for the rest of the season, with it being likely that there is only the dubious merit of the last Top 6 berth to play for in the SPL.

Around 3000 tickets have been sold by Friday lunchtime, but with cash turnstiles in operation for the match the last-minute crowd can come down and help carry the Dons through to the next round.

Stand Free!