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Kelty Hearts 0-1 Dundee United: Shankland strike gets Tam Courts era off to a winning start

Lawrence Shankland tapped home the winner for Dundee United on 77 minutes.
Lawrence Shankland tapped home the winner for Dundee United on 77 minutes.

Dundee United got the Thomas Courts era under way with a 1-0 cup win at Kelty Hearts.

Lawrence Shankland got the goal to earn United three Premier Sports Cup Group B points and Courts a winning start as head coach.

Playing in front of fans for the first time since a 1-1 Championship draw with Partick Thistle on March 7, 2020, the Tangerines were tested by Kevin Thomson’s newly-promoted League Two men.

Courts won through against his former side, though, as Shankland netted late on at New Central Park.

Cardle and Austin go close for Kelty

New signing Charlie Mulgrew and 17-year-old left-back Flynn Duffy were handed their competitive debuts on a cool summer evening in Fife.

Liam Smith picked up a knock in the warm-up and was replaced before kick-off at right-back by Kieran Freeman.

Kelty started well, with neat midfield play releasing Kallum Higginbotham down the right wing on six minutes.

The former Dunfermline wide man’s ball into the box had the potential to be dangerous but United No 1 Benjamin Siegrist was able to pull the ball safely into his grasp.

Three minutes later, it was fellow-winger Joe Cardle popping up on the same flank.

After robbing Mulgrew, the Kelty No 7 cut in and fired a shot goalwards Siegrist had to get behind.

Ian Harkes bursts forward for Dundee United.

He repeated the feat moments later, this time nicking the ball from Ian Harkes before testing Siegrist once more.

On 12 minutes, Nathan Austin nodded over from a deep Ross Philip delivery into the area.

Up the other end, Shankland did well to bring down a cleared Jeando Fuchs cross ball and fired in an audacious half-volley Darren Jamieson was able to grab in the home goal.

A surging Harkes run almost released Shankland on 20 minutes but the hitman strayed offside.

Both teams endeavoured to create, with experienced Kelty man Cardle up against United kid Duffy an interesting battle.

The youngster held his own, with opposite full-back Freeman trying to provide an attacking outlet for Courts’ team.

Chalmers introduction gives United a boost as Freeman finds Shanks

It was Duffy’s turn to get up the park as the second half got under way, with United shooting towards their own fans, who made up the majority of the 500-strong crowd.

The Dundonian kid showed tenacity and skill down the left flank to create a couple of opportunities that nearly fell for Shankland in the area.

The Terrors were far more aggressive after the interval, especially following the introduction of winger Logan Chalmers just before the hour mark.

Calum Butcher made a vital interception to stop The Maroon Machine sub Botti Biabi getting his head on a Cardle delivery.

Youngster Flynn Duffy made his Dundee United debut.

It was Chalmers’ run that caused confusion in the Kelty defence to give United their best chance of the match, at that stage, through Nicky Clark.

The Tangerines forward saw his fierce right-foot effort from the edge of the box well-saved by Jamieson on 68 minutes.

With 13 minutes remaining, United finally made the breakthrough with a clever Freeman cut back finding Shankland in the middle of the goal to tap home.

Kelty pushed for an equaliser, with Michael Tidser’s effort flashed over the bar the closest they came.

However, United saw the 90 minutes out as they took the first step in an attempt to get out of the League Cup group stages for the first time since 2017.

United welcome Elgin City to Tannadice on Wednesday night for their second match of the group.


Kelty Hearts: Jamieson (GK); Philip, McNab, Hill, Peggie; Reilly (Biabi 56), Tidser (C); Higginbotham, Barjonas, Cardle; Austin (Agyeman 72).

Subs not used: Donaldson (GK), Black, Russell, McKenzie, Bridgeford.

Dundee United: Siegrist (GK); Freeman, Butcher, Reynolds (C), Mulgrew Duffy (Neilson 68); Fuchs, Harkes, Pawlett (Chalmers 59); Clark (Mochrie 78), Shankland.

Subs not used: Newman (GK), Hoti, Fotheringham, K Smith.

Referee: Steven McLean.

Attendance: 500.

ANALYSIS: How does Trevor Carson compare to Dundee United No.1 Benjamin Siegrist?