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Brittain strikes to peg back Utd; Rangers drop points

ESPN staff
January 26, 2013 « Etim: Renee Forte gets punished at Wembley Arena | Chartbeat test »
Johnny Russell provided the assist for Gary Mackay-Steven's goal © PA Photos
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Dundee United's hopes of ending their home hoodoo were dashed late on by plucky Ross County in a 1-1 draw at Tannadice.

Peter Houston's side looked set to clinch all three points at home for the first time in 11 games thanks to Gary Mackay-Steven's fine second-half strike, which was all that separated the sides until the Highlanders struck after 82 minutes through Richard Brittain's brilliant equaliser.

Heavy snow 24 hours earlier meant there was an early morning pitch inspection to throw the game into doubt. But referee Iain Brines gave it the go-ahead as the hosts looked to bounce back from their 4-0 hammering at the hands of Celtic on Tuesday.

They came out determined to make amends and created the first clear-cut opportunity after just two minutes. Barry Douglas whipped over a free-kick from the right for Gavin Gunning to rise unchallenged and head into the side-netting.

County replied six minutes later when midfielder Rocco Quinn picked up possession 25 yards from goal and unleashed a left-foot shot which Radoslaw Cierzniak was relieved to see clear his near post. Then, on 14 minutes, United put together a flowing move which was started by Keith Watson, who released Stuart Armstrong down the right.

Armstrong's cross picked out Gary Mackay-Steven at the far post but his shot was blocked by visiting defender Scott Boyd. Midway through the first half, Paul Lawson sprung the United defence with a raking pass for Ivan Sproule to run on to.

Sproule wasted no time in crossing into the box but United's Sean Dillon got across to clear the danger. A few minutes later, Mackay-Steven had a half-chance when Douglas' corner was only partially cleared but the winger's right-foot shot went narrowly wide of the target.

However, their pressure paid off after 52 minutes when Mackay-Steven made it 1-0 with an impressive curling left-foot shot which sailed out of the reach of Mark Brown.

Skipper Jon Daly released Johnny Russell and he laid the ball back for Mackay-Steven to finish in style from 20 yards. That gave the hosts a big lift but, soon after, Cierzniak was called upon to turn Sam Morrow's left-foot shot round the post after Morrow's pass had cut open the home defence.

However, on 82 minutes, Brittain popped up to make it 1-1 with a spectacular strike. Sproule ran down the right without being challenged and picked his moment to cut the ball back to Brittain. The midfielder set himself up before producing an unstoppable strike which sped high into Cierzniak's top corner.

United immediately tried to regain the initiative when substitute Mark Millar let fly from 30-yards but his effort went well wide. In the final minute substitute Michael Gardyne tried to snatch it for the Tangerines but his left-foot effort skidded just inches past the target.

In the only game to go ahead in the Scottish Third Division, Rangers were held to a 1-1 draw by third-placed Montrose at Ibrox.

It looked like David Templeton's deflected effort just before half-time would decide the match in Rangers' favour but second-half substitute David Gray had other ideas and produced an outstanding top-corner strike in the 89th minute.

The league leaders had chances to re-take the lead in injury time with a series of corners, but Ian Black hit the post with a stabbed effort which had beaten the goalkeeper.

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