DUNDEE UNITED produced an impressive performance to secure a well-earned victory over St Mirren and move up to sixth in the Scottish Premiership on a beautiful Saturday at Tannadice.

Both sides had endured mix starts to the season and only Motherwell had scored less than either’s pre-match total of four goals. The notable team sheet inclusions perhaps understandably so were at the offensive end of the pitch. Micky Mellon was able to hand Laurence Shankland a second start of the season, whilst Jim Goodwin opted to pair Lee Erwin with captain Jon Obika for the first time.

Erwin, who had scored on his debut in midweek, almost made the most of miscommunication inside the home defence to prod home an opener inside the opening 10 minutes, but he saw his effort held well by Benjamin Siegrist. On the half hour mark Erwin went closest again, taking advantage of a Joe Shaughnessy knock down from a set piece, but the former Motherwell man sent his half volley into the side netting.

The home side then created two half chances of their own but produced nothing clear cut until they opened the scoring. The returning Shankland would show United just what they had been missing minutes before the break to give his side the lead. After a corner had been half cleared the forward spectacularly volleyed the ball on the half turn into the top corner beyond the Bobby Zlamal, who could be forgiven for not saving the effort. The strike deserved an audience but earned the emphatic applause of the in-attendance club officials and media.

Dundee United boss Mellon spoke of his delight post-match at having Shankland back fit after a spell on the sidelines.

He said: “I believe we have got a lot of quality and we expect to get results, but like you seen today those players put in the performances that they do and it’s the difference at times, so we’re delighted that Lawrence was back fit.

“It wasn’t just about him, there were a lot of good performances all over the pitch, for long spells in the game. What I was pleased about is they were told no matter what happens, we keep a calm head and we do our jobs and we will see games through and today they did that.”

The home side came out the traps flying after the restart and were ruthless in their pursuit of a second goal. It would come in the 52nd minute through Adrian Sprole. The dominant Ian Harkes took the ball impressively in his stride to direct an effort towards goal which was well saved by Zlamal, who then kept out Shankland after he’d picked up the loose ball. But it would be third time lucky for the hosts as Sprole arrived to find the finish that would eventually evade the on loan ‘keeper.

St Mirren’s task was made near impossible when they went down to ten men midway through the second period. Their frustration was apparent when Richard Tait was shown a straight red for a reckless tackle on Logan Chalmers. Tait had been outplayed by the youngster and deserved to walk for the lunge. But they would get one back soon after, capitalising on space left in behind. Dylan Connolly outpaced Mark Reynolds who had tried to shepherd the ball back to the keeper and he finished low past Siegrist to cut the deficit.

Despite the man disadvantage, the visitors played their best football after their goal as United struggled to assert the control they’d enjoyed earlier in the half. Goal scorer Connolly again went close as Saints' pressed for an equaliser. But United would begin to control exchanges again and saw out the game to keep all three points in Dundee.

St Mirren boss Goodwin admitted his frustration after the game at his side’s performance.

He said: “It’s a sore one, very frustrating from our point of view. I think anybody watching the game would admit we were the better team in the first half. Unfortunately, we couldn’t capitalise on the two or three good chances that we created.

“Unfortunately, again, which is a bit of our achillies heel at the moment, we concede from another corner. It’s something I’m going to have to look at and sort out.”