Houston hails improving Russell

PA Sport
Johnny Russell, front, was on target for Dundee United against Queen of the South
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Johnny Russell, front, was on target for Dundee United against Queen of the South

Dundee United manager Peter Houston was delighted to see Johnny Russell end his and the team's barren spell with the only goal of the Scottish Communities League Cup clash against Queen of the South.

The Scotland Under-21 striker finished Michael Gardyne's low cross at the second attempt in the 28th minute to send United into the quarter-finals. It was United's first goal in more than 300 minutes of football and their first win in five games, and eased the pain of Saturday's 3-0 defeat by Hearts.

Houston said: "It's good for Johnny. The last couple of games he has been off form a wee bit. But I felt he came back, especially in the first half, and put in a lot of hard work."

Houston added: "He should have scored at the end there to kill the tie, he went round the keeper and didn't finish it well.

"But I'm really pleased. It's nice to see him back to some sort of form again, because I think he dipped a wee bit in the last three or four games, but that's to be expected with a young player."

Houston had other reasons to be more optimistic about his side's attacking options with Jon Daly making his first start following a knee injury and Gardyne impressing on the left wing, where United have missed knee-injury victim Gary Mackay-Steven in recent weeks.

"He put a hell of a shift in," Houston said of former Ross County player Gardyne. "He was playing on the left wing but he turned up on the right hand side in the first half a couple of times, making runs across defenders."

Queen of the South manager Allan Johnston saw his team's unbeaten start to the season come to an end as they failed to add to cup wins over Hibernian and Rangers.

But he was delighted with their display after they pushed United back for most of the second half.

He said: "There are a lot of positives to take from that performance. We were up against a top Premier League team and they produce a performance like that. Everyone is gutted, that shows the standards they have set that they are gutted at getting beat by a Premier League team."

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