A Paul McMullan masterclass helped Dundee to a season-opening 4-0 Premier Sports Cup win over Brora Rangers.
The winger bagged a brace and two assists to help the Dee to victory over the Highland League champions in front of 500 fans at Dens Park.
McMullan scored either side of half-time, including his first for the Dark Blues, and laid on Paul McGowan’s opener and Alex Jakubiak’s maiden Dee strike on 55 minutes.
The result gets the 2021/22 competitive campaign off to a winning start for James McPake’s men as they gear up for a return to the Premiership.
While Dundee were contesting their first match in Group C, Steven Mackay’s side went into the clash on the back of a 3-0 loss at Montrose on Saturday.
Jakubiak started up front in place of the injured Danny Mullen – the Dee’s only change from last season’s promotion play-off final win over Kilmarnock.
Pace and precision as McMullan and Adam put Brora to the sword
In the early action, Ally MacDonald fluffed his lines as he bore down on goal for Brora before McMullan flashed a dangerous ball across the box for Dundee.
Moments later, McMullan fizzed in an effort from 25 yards that away keeper Grant Beattie did well to push round the post.
The wide man again went close on 11 minutes, this time firing past the post after being slipped in by Jordan McGhee who tenaciously won back possession in the middle of the park.
McGhee lashed a strike of his own over the bar as the Dee continued to dominate proceedings headed towards the 20-minute mark.
The Cattachs had no answer for the pace and dynamism of McMullan down the right flank – and it was no surprise he was the source of the opening goal on 23 minutes.
Bursting past his opposite number, McMullan’s cut back ran beyond Charlie Adam and landed at the feet of McGowan who gladly swept home.
McMullan could’ve had one of his own had he been more selfish shortly after, electing to try to pick out Adam for a tap-in when he could’ve easily struck goalwards himself.
McGhee found McGowan in acres of space inside the area on the half-hour mark but, after swivelling away from trouble, couldn’t get enough purchase on his shot to test Beattie.
Lee Ashcroft did force a save out of Beattie on 33 minutes, connecting with McGowan’s corner with a cute flick that the visiting keeper did well to parry.
It didn’t take the Dee long to get their second, though, with McMullan, so often the provider, the scorer.
The winger notched his first competitive goal in dark blue, although he’s showing form after scoring twice in pre-season, as he tapped home Adam’s perfectly-executed pass from a few yards out.
Adam could’ve easily gone down under the challenge of John Pickles but stayed on his feet, skipped past the challenge of the Brora right-back and laid the ball on a plate for McMullan to slot home.
Jakubiak then had two glorious chances to put the Dee 3-0 up but just couldn’t find the required finish.
Brora had their first real chance of the match headed into the half as Andrew MacRae, bursting into the final third, smashed a low stinger that called Adam Legzdins into action.
More of the same from Dee after break
The second half started in much the same fashion as witnessed for the majority of the first period – Dundee dominance.
McMullan was, again, at the centre of it – bagging his second of the evening on 49 minutes by blasting a rasping half-volley beyond Beattie from Jordan Marshall’s cross.
Two minutes later the wee winger was back to doing what he does best, picking out his team-mates for goals.
This time his dynamite run and delicious delivery left Alex Jakubiak with the simple task of popping his first Dee goal into an empty net for 4-0.
Ashcroft rose highest at a McGowan corner on 64 minutes and nodded narrowly wide.
Marshall went down hurt with 15 minutes remaining and had to exit proceedings after the Dee had used all their substitutes.
Fin Robertson came close to No 5 on 82 minutes but Beattie pulled off a stunning save to deny the kid before Jason Cummings’ thunderous effort smashed the underside of the bar in the closing moments.
In the end, 10-man Dundee comfortably saw the game out and, Covid situation in Dingwall pending, head to Ross County on Sunday for their second game of the group.
Dundee (4-2-3-1): Legzdins (GK); Kerr, Ashcroft, Fontaine, Marshall; Byrne (Robertson 69), Adam (C) (McCowan 55); McMullan (McDaid 69), McGhee (Anderson 69), McGowan; Jakubiak (Cummings 59).
Subs not used: Sharp (GK), Sweeney, Elliott and Panter.
Brora Rangers (4-4-2): Beattie (GK) (Stephenson 85); Pickles, Nicolson, Gamble, Williamson; Kelly, G MacDonald, Gillespie, A MacDonald; MacRae (Sutherland 50), Wallace (MacRae 59).
Referee: David Dickinson.