Dumbarton came agonisingly close to a famous win at Tannadice against Dundee United, after taking an early lead on Saturday.

David Smith opened the scoring for the Sons, with the visitors capitalising on some terrible defending from United.

But after looking on course to securing their first three points at Tannadice since 1958, James Keatings’ stroked in a free-kick on 85 minutes to secure a late point for the hosts.

The overhaul job in both squads over the summer was highlighted with only four of the 22 players started in in April’s 2-2 draw between the sides, with one of those being Sam Stanton, the former Sons loanee now playing for Ray McKinnon’s side.

And it was the home side who looked like a new team, a catalogue of errors led to Dumbarton’s opener.

Losing the ball sloppily in midfield, Tom Walsh charged down the left wing and put in a cross. It was headed up into air the William Edjenguele, and Smith nipped in at the back post to prod home the opener.

It was terrible defending with mistake after mistake for the home side, but Smith cared little as he tapped in his first league goal for the club.

Dimitrios Froxylias was next to threaten for the visitors, his first attempt was blocked and his second took a deflection as the Sons piled on the pressure against the pre-season title favourites.

The Tangerines first chance came on 20 minutes, Paul McMullan threaded through the ball to Scott Fraser, the midfielder took his volley early, but he was only able to sting the palms of Sons goalkeeper Scott Gallacher.

United had a chance just before the half-hour mark to draw level. Briels was through on goal, but Gallacher rushed out and forced the Dutchman wide, and was unable to get his attempt on target.

But Sons were looking the better team in the first half, frustrating the hosts and closing them down at every opportunity.

The Arab faithful booed the home side off as they headed back to the changing rooms at half-time.

McKinnon sought to rectify his side’s poor start to the game by bringing on Patrick N’Koyi, who breathed new life into Dundee United’s attack.

The Zaire forward sped up Dundee United’s movement going forward, with quick first time passes and dangerous runs, putting the Sons on the back foot for most of the second half.

Paul McMullan started to threaten more for the Tannadice side down the channels, and his dangerous crosses were inches away from connecting with his teammates, but for some good defending from Sons.

Froxylias’ free-kick on the hour mark was one of Sons’ best chances in the second half, the Cypriot’s shot was spilled by goalkeeper Harry Lewis. Dumbarton debutant Greg Morrison also sneaked in to toe-poke the ball in, but the on-loan Southampton goalkeeper recovered in time.

Walsh, who looked Sons best player, almost grabbed a sensational goal with 15 minutes left to go. The winger cut inside, and with no-one closing him down he sent a stinging effort from 25 yards out, with goalkeeper Lewis getting a fingertip save to tip the ball on to the crossbar.

United threw on more attackers as they looked to grab an equaliser, and it finally came on 85 minutes.

A tired tackle from David Wilson on the edge of the box was picked up by Keatings, the former Hibs striker wrapping his shot around the wall and guiding into the net to break Sons hearts.

United piled on the pressure late on, but Dumbarton were able to hold out to earn their third draw of the league season in five games.

Dumbarton next host fellow part-timers Brechin City on Saturday, kick-off is at 3pm.

DUNDEE UNITED: Lewis, Murdoch, Quinn, McMullan, McDonald, Fraser (King, 57), Stanton (N’Koyi, 46) , Edjenguele, Robson, Briels (Keatings, 81)), Fyvie.

Subs not used: Mehmet, Durnan, Toshney, Flood.

DUMBARTON: Gallacher, Smith (Gallagher, 80), McLaughlin, Carswell, Walsh, Wardrop, Wilson, Hill, Morrison (Nade, 70), Froxylias (Roy, 89), Barr.

Subs not used: Ewings, Johnston, Prior.

Attendance 5331