Perseverance rewarded Dundee United as Mario Bilate struck the winning goal against Motherwell at Tannadice.

The striker came off the bench in the second half to provide the decisive touch against Motherwell.

The home side had looked sharper and more threatening, but Motherwell had refused to buckle.

It took a fierce shot to quell the visitors, and establish United's ambitions to build on last season's progress.

Interview - Dundee Utd boss Jackie McNamara

Both teams needed a summer of renewal, although it was United who seemed less diminished by the loss of their key players.

Ryan Gauld and Andrew Robertson took their extensive potential to new clubs but United brought in reinforcements and emphasised that a team can still compete despite losing promising individuals by defeating Aberdeen 3-0 on the opening day.

Motherwell lost significant talents during the summer too in Shaun Hutchinson and James McFadden.

Rebuilding has become an annual obligation at Fir Park, often on a reduced budget, but no manager seems better able to shape, motivate and renew his team as effectively as Stuart McCall.

For three seasons in a row, Motherwell have finished in the top three. United aspire to that kind of sustained accomplishment, but reached the Scottish Cup final last term and looked to be developing purposefully under Jackie McNamara.

The challenge for all the teams that gathered just behind Celtic in the last campaign was to not just keep striving to be the best of the rest but to apply greater pressure to the defending champions.

The meeting of United and Well provided an early indication of which club might be more capable of that ambition.

John Sutton and Jaroslaw Fojut

There was little to choose between the sides as the hosts scraped the three points

A clash of styles ensued, too, since Motherwell - depleted by injuries also - sought to be dogged and resourceful.

United can be devastating on the counter-attack and the visitors' intention was clearly to protect themselves. They were not inhibited, and forced a series of early corners, one of which led to Josh Law steering a shot over Radoslaw Cierzniak and onto the face of the bar.

Motherwell applied themselves vigorously to their game plan, even if United were able to be more slick and inventive when they surged upfield, always looking to make use of their wide attackers.

Nadir Ciftci and John Rankin both managed shots on target in the opening half, although neither was strong or accurate enough to trouble Motherwell goalkeeper Dan Twardzik.

The sense was of United holding the edge, since the creative trio of Stuart Armstrong, Ryan Dow and Gay Mackay-Steven - all feints, flicks, dribbling skill and devilment - could provide a decisive touch at any moment.

Motherwell were less adventurous, but also less flighty, although there was an air of desperation as three defenders slid to block Ciftci's shot inside the penalty area just after the interval.

Stephen McManus had to move briskly to clear a Conor Townsend cross, and Paul Paton shot over from close range after Mackay-Steven had centred. The openness of the game suited the home side, who sought to be irrepressible, but their efforts looked like being forlorn.

United held an advantage, though, in having a strong squad. McNamara brought on summer signing Bilate and the striker eventually lashed a shot beyond Twardzik from around 25 yards.

It was a stinging shot, and enough to shatter Motherwell's resolve.

The visitors almost equalised in time added on, when Craig Reid's shot from inside the area was deflected just wide.

In the end, the moment belonged to United, but they were unbeaten against Motherwell last season, winning three of their four meetings, but still finished behind McCall's side in the league.

Accomplishment needs to be maintained once its established.

Lineup, Bookings (3) & Substitutions (6)

Dundee United

  • 01 Cierzniak
  • 12 Watson (Bilate - 65' )
  • 03 Townsend
  • 08 Rankin
  • 05 Fojut
  • 14 Morris
  • 18 Dow
  • 06 Paton
  • 07 Ciftci (Telfer - 86' )
  • 10 Armstrong Booked
  • 11 Mackay-Steven (Erskine - 86' )

Substitutes

  • 09 Graham
  • 13 McCallum
  • 17 Erskine
  • 19 Bilate
  • 21 Telfer
  • 23 Smith
  • 24 Spittal

Motherwell

  • 12 Twardzik
  • 02 Reid
  • 17 Francis-Angol (Ferguson - 45' Booked )
  • 04 Carswell
  • 20 Kerr
  • 06 McManus
  • 21 Leitch Booked (Ainsworth - 86' )
  • 14 Lasley
  • 09 Sutton (McHugh - 85' )
  • 19 Erwin
  • 18 Law

Substitutes

  • 07 Ainsworth
  • 08 Lawson
  • 13 Nielsen
  • 16 McHugh
  • 28 Neill
  • 29 Cadden
  • 30 Ferguson
Ref: Kevin Clancy
Att: 8,367

Match Stats

Shots

10 3

On target

4 0

Corners

10 8

Fouls

16 12

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Dundee United 1, Motherwell 0.

90:00 +3:38 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Dundee United 1, Motherwell 0.

90:00 +3:22

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Jaroslaw Fojut.

90:00 +2:52

Attempt blocked. Craig Reid (Motherwell) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

90:00 +2:20

Foul by Callum Morris (Dundee United).

90:00 +2:20

Fraser Kerr (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

90:00 +1:54

Ryan Dow (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

90:00 +1:54

Foul by Robert McHugh (Motherwell).

89:06

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Stuart Carswell.

88:10

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Jaroslaw Fojut.

87:34

Foul by Paul Paton (Dundee United).

87:34

Robert McHugh (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

85:50 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Dundee United. Charlie Telfer replaces Nadir Ciftci.

85:33 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Dundee United. Chris Erskine replaces Gary Mackay-Steven.

85:14 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Motherwell. Lionel Ainsworth replaces Jack Leitch.

84:58 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Motherwell. Robert McHugh replaces John Sutton.

82:14 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Dundee United 1, Motherwell 0. Mario Bilate (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Gary Mackay-Steven.

81:42

Attempt missed. Ryan Dow (Dundee United) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.

80:15

Foul by Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United).

80:15

Stuart Carswell (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

79:15

Attempt missed. Paul Paton (Dundee United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.

77:59

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Stephen McManus.

77:10

Hand ball by Mario Bilate (Dundee United).

75:17

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Josh Law.

73:36

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Stuart Carswell.

73:14

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Stuart Carswell.

68:18

Attempt missed. Mario Bilate (Dundee United) header from the right side of the six yard box is too high following a corner.

68:00

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by David Ferguson.

67:34

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by David Ferguson.

64:31 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Dundee United. Mario Bilate replaces Keith Watson.

63:50

Attempt blocked. Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.

62:03

Foul by Conor Townsend (Dundee United).

62:03

John Sutton (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the right wing.

61:24

Foul by Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United).

61:24

Stuart Carswell (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

58:00

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by David Ferguson.

57:13

Foul by Paul Paton (Dundee United).

57:13

Lee Erwin (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

54:43

Lee Erwin (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

54:43

Foul by Callum Morris (Dundee United).

49:58 Booking

Booking Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United) is shown the yellow card.

49:41

Keith Lasley (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

49:41

Foul by Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United).

47:52 Booking

Booking David Ferguson (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.

47:46

Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

47:46

Foul by David Ferguson (Motherwell).

46:00

Hand ball by Stuart Carswell (Motherwell).

45:00

Second Half begins Dundee United 0, Motherwell 0.

45:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Motherwell. David Ferguson replaces Zaine Francis-Angol because of an injury.

45:00 +0:07 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Dundee United 0, Motherwell 0.

44:19

Foul by Lee Erwin (Motherwell).

44:19

Conor Townsend (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

41:04

Foul by Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United).

41:04

Zaine Francis-Angol (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the right wing.

39:45

Foul by Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United).

39:45

Lee Erwin (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

37:43

Foul by John Rankin (Dundee United).

37:43

Josh Law (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

36:44

Attempt saved. Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

35:32

Foul by Keith Watson (Dundee United).

35:32

Lee Erwin (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the left wing.

34:58

Attempt saved. John Rankin (Dundee United) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

33:28

Attempt missed. John Rankin (Dundee United) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

30:25

Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

30:25

Foul by Zaine Francis-Angol (Motherwell).

28:44 Booking

Booking Jack Leitch (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.

28:38

Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

28:38

Foul by Jack Leitch (Motherwell).

28:00

Callum Morris (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

27:55

Foul by Lee Erwin (Motherwell).

27:15

Attempt missed. Fraser Kerr (Motherwell) header from the right side of the six yard box is too high following a corner.

27:02

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by John Rankin.

26:45

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Conor Townsend.

24:26

Attempt saved. Ryan Dow (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

22:03

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Craig Reid.

21:08

Conor Townsend (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

21:08

Foul by Stephen McManus (Motherwell).

19:52

Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

19:52

Foul by Zaine Francis-Angol (Motherwell).

18:30

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Callum Morris.

17:20

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Keith Watson.

16:35

Foul by Jaroslaw Fojut (Dundee United).

16:35

John Sutton (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

12:48

Attempt missed. Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) left footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right.

11:44

Foul by John Rankin (Dundee United).

11:44

Stuart Carswell (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the right wing.

11:11

Hand ball by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).

10:39

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Josh Law.

7:41

Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

7:41

Foul by Stuart Carswell (Motherwell).

4:28

Stephen McManus (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the right wing.

4:28

Foul by Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United).

3:02

Josh Law (Motherwell) hits the bar with a right footed shot from outside the box following a corner.

2:42

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Paul Paton.

2:11

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Paul Paton.

1:00

Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

1:00

Foul by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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