However Lady Luck was on their side when they were given a penalty for a foul which few in the ground actually saw apart from ref Dougie McDonald.
It was some relief for the Edinburgh side after all the pre-match debate surrounding the question of who selected the Hearts team since some of the senior players had indicated Romanov instead of Rix was picking the players.
In addition there was more controversy with the absence of Andy Webster and Robbie Nielson from the visitors line-up. Dropped for no apparent reason, Webster's agent Charlie Duddy categorically stated that the big defender would not be extending his contract while Neilson was mystifyingly asked to sit on the bench after signing a new contract last week.
It was a rain-soaked pitch which greeted the players leading to some difficulty in controlling the ball.
However the Tangerines carved out the first opportunity in the ninth minute with Stuart Duff's cross being laid down by Collin Samuel into the path of Grant Brebner to drive narrowly wide from 22 yards. At the other end, the restored Paul Hartley danced around the box two minutes later before his shot was deflected wide.
The opening quarter saw both teams cancel each other out but the Jam Tarts really should have gone ahead in the 16th minute. Wonderful play from Hartley gave Ludek Straceny the ball at the byline. The new signing cut the ball back only to see Michal Pospisil completely miss the ball from three yards.
After a lull in the play in which the visitors appeared to be relying on their physical presence, young Calum Elliot tried to inject some life into his team-mates with an opportunist strike in the 30th minute but it flew wide.
The game needed a goal and it came in the 34th minute from the Terrors with a strange header from Brebner. With Martin Petras stalling at the byline, Charles Mulgrew fired in a deep curling cross which Craig Gordon seemed to lose in flight and with Pana Fyssas dreaming at the far post, Brebner forced himself forward to nod the ball in off both the left-back and the keeper.
The second period opened with Elliot wastefully heading a free-kick over following Mark Kerr's caution for dissent.
But United should have extended their lead in the 56th minute when a deep Barry Robson corner was agonisingly driven over from Samuel as the Trinidadian hit the ball down with the goal gaping.
Meanwhile, while Hartley hit the visitors first shot on target in the 59th minute, the biggest cheer from the large visiting support was Neilson's introduction for the ineffectual Petras.
Further tactical moves from Rix saw Skacel sitting off Hartley as the visitors tried to push forward. And they were rewarded with a very soft penalty in the 82nd minute when Pressley fell under Alan Archibald's challenge.
Then controversy blew up five minutes from time when Robson was red carded for an over the top tackle on Pressley and was followed to the dressing room by Julien Brellier after the Frenchman decided to take the matter literally into his own hands.