It was a windy night in Gretna, very windy. Many Arabs driving down to the game from Dundee had to drive through snowstorms to get to the game, some didn't make it at all. Those who did had their nerves mangled right up to the final whistle.
It could have been so different. After 20 minutes United were 3-0 up!! Not only that, Mark Wilson, a few minutes later, was stepping up to take United's second penalty of the evening to make it 4-0!! He missed, at least the keeper saved it and Grady, yet again, missed his chance from the rebound. This may have the spur that Gretna needed because either side of half time they notched a goal to make it 3-2 in this amazing game.
The first came from a cross, Bullock parried and Kenny Deuchar nipped in to slot the ball home. The second was a heart-stopping moment, one of many. Again the ball was swept into the net, and the refereee appeared to award a goal, the ball even found its way back to the centre circle! But no! The referee changed his mind and awarded a penalty! Which was duly converted and it was 3-2. Much confusion but 3-2 it was.
Crawford got off the mark for United who took a beautiful pass and expertly chipped the goalie to make it 4-2. Now we're safe surely? No. Skelton launches an unstoppable 30-yarder to make it 4-3!! Scarey stuff. To add insult to injury the radio commentator (I was an Arab NOT at the game) replayed the 3rd goal without warning and EVERYONE in the chatroom thought it was 4-4!!
From 3-0 up and about to take a penalty, to (mistakenly) believing it was 4-4!! A quite amazing night and a most nerve-wracking one. United soaked up the late pressure though, and went through in a game that will long live in the memory.
The snow made the drive home very treacherous and many didn't arrive back until the wee small hours, having been stuck at Perth (and having snowball fights).
Full credit to Gretna though who put on a splendid and spirited display, and with their rich Chairman it's surely not long till we see them overtaking many of the clubs above them in the second and first divisions. Who knows, we may even see them in the SPL one day?
Special mention also for the hospitality, grace, and friendliness that was shown by this wee club from the Borders. This was one of the biggest games in their history, and certainly the biggest since they joined the Scottish league a couple of seasons ago. They gave ALL the home and away fans free tickets, despie the fact that the game was going to sell out! They played a United song after the match last night (Beautiful Sunday) despite being beaten. There are one or two more cynical clubs in the SPL who take a leaf out of Gretna's book.
It's been a hell of a round this third round! Two postponements and seven (nearly eight!) goals. What a carry on!!! I'm sure every Arab wishes Gretna all the best for this season, and the seasons ahead. They truly were 'gents'.
More worringly on our front, we have now shipped 6 goals in two games, many of these from crosses and set pieces, and I hope we'll be working on that in the training ground. Also, United seem lacking in composure, perhaps a liittle nervous. Big deep breaths lads, there's a few 'wee' games coming up!!