The Reserves' Friday night match at Tannadice, five days before the European Cup quarter-final home leg served a valuable dual purpose. Not only was in an important fixture to keep in touch with Rangers, the leaders who had won the previous night, but also to provide match practice for the first team players who had been deprived of action by the weather.
In order to assist preparations for the first leg against Gothenburg the reserves fielded as strong a team as they are ever likely to put out. Jim Bett, Peter Weir and John Hewitt were all in as well as Ian Angus and Frank McDougall.
"It was a very strong line-up with so many regular first teamers in but that does not always work in your favour," said Reserve team coach Teddy Scott. "For one thing it lifts the opposition and for another it often proves difficult for players used to first team games to settle and play their best in the reserves."
In the event a 4-3 win for Dons meant that they emerged with flying colours on all counts though it was a far closer call than once seemed likely. A 3-0 lead was slightly misleading as United hit back twice.
Paul Wright started the scoring off with a well-placed early penalty after Brian Mitchell had been brought down. Weir made it 2-0 with a superb cross shot then supplied a beautifully weighted centre within 30 seconds for McDougall to tap in.
At that stage it seemed that Dons were cruising comfortably to an easy win but United were, as usual, made of sterner stuff. They, too, were capable of producing a quick double strike in the shape of goals by Clark and Kinnaird. Happily Dons were always the superior sidein general approach play and when McAlpine half stopped a drive by Bett, Hewitt was there, on the spot as ever, to fire the fourth for a two goal half-time lead.
After that United stepped up their form and Dons eased off a dangerous fraction, Clark scoring his second goal for the narrow 4-3 scoreline.
"Bett played extremely well in an unusual role of defensive sweeper," added Scott. "Weir also had an outstanding game." Both of course were then selected for their return to first-team action while Hewitt produced his important goal as 'super-sub' against the Swedes. Once again the link between the Reserves and the first team had proved invaluable.
Source: Programme: The A Team column, 12th March 1986