James Keatings saved Dundee United’s blushes with a late equaliser against Dumbarton at Tannadice.
The Tangerines were behind early on to a David Smith goal and it took a free kick from the sub in the dying minutes to get them level.
After a poor performance the home team were fortunate to take anything from the game.
United had Scott Fraser back in their starting line-up and there was also a place in defence for William Edjenguele, who’d been benched for the last two league games.
It was a disastrous start for the home team as the Sons took a shock lead in only the fifth minute.
Stewart Murdoch lost the ball and that allowed Tom Walsh to send over a cross from the left. The United defence were at sixes and sevens and Smith stole in at the back post and force the ball home off his thigh.
This was not the opening Ray McKinnon’s men wanted against the team who beat them twice last season and also picked up a draw at Tannadice.
United did try to hit back and Fraser sent a 22-yard shot a foot or so over, but when Walsh fired a shot wide at the other end there were boos from the home stands.
Dumbarton were making the early running but when Paul McMullan broke forward and fed Fraser, it took a fine save from Scott Gallacher to keep his powerful first-time shot out.
McMullan was the provider again when he sent a fine pass into Jordie Briels inside the box. The Dutchman managed to round the keeper but that left him with a tight angle and his shot failed to find the target.
The first half ended with boos from the home fans and the players could have no complaints about that.
Something had to change after the break and it was no surprise to see United re-emerge with Patrick N’Koyi on for Sam Stanton, although he was by no means the worst performer in the opening 45 minutes.
The Dutch striker almost made an immediate impact when he took a pass from Scott McDonald and immediately pulled the trigger. His shot, though, flew high over the bar.
Next McMullan sent a low ball across the face of goal but it was inches too far in front of N’Koyi’s outstretched leg.
United had upped the tempo this half but were still struggling to create clear cut chances against a well-drilled Sons defence.
And there was a scare when keeper Harry Lewis fumbled a Dimitris Froxylia free kick and needed two attempts to gather the ball.
At the other end sub Billy King, on for Fraser, set up Briels for a shot. He struck it well but was denied by a fine Gallacher save. The goalie was the hero again when he beat away a fierce drive from N’Koyi.
United were pressing hard and when Paul Quinn set up McMullan he wasted a good opportunity by shooting high over the bar.
With 20 minutes left there was an awful miss as King crossed from the left and McMullan headed over from just three or four yards out.
Five minutes later it was almost 2-0 when Lewis had to touch a long-range effort from Walsh on to his post. United were quickly back on the attack and Gallacher made another good save, this time clutching a King effort at his front post. McDonald was next to have a go but his angled drive failed to find the target.
With three minutes left there was a chance to shoot from the edge of the area after David Wilson fouled King and it brought the equaliser.
Keatings was just on for Jordrie Briels, but he took the kick and curled a beauty into the corner of the net.
That brought huge relief for home players and fans, but this was still a way below par display.