A Charlie Mulgrew goal, 15 years after his last in tangerine, earned Dundee United a 1-0 win over Arbroath at Tannadice.
The win all but books United’s spot in the knockout stages of the Premier Sports Cup, as they sit top of Group B on nine points.
Mulgrew’s sensational free-kick on 21 minutes was enough for Tam Courts’ men, in front of 500 home fans once more, as they prepare to travel to East Fife to round off the section on Tuesday night.
Mulgrew free-kick puts United in lead
United made eight changes from Wednesday night’s 6-1 hammering of Elgin City.
Liam Smith, Lewis Neilson, Mulgrew, Jamie Robson, Ian Harkes, Calum Butcher, Chris Mochrie and Logan Chalmers all came in.
Arbroath were five different from their 2-0 win over East Fife in midweek with Derek Gaston replacing suspended goalie Calum Antell.
James Craigen, Dale Hilson, Bobby Linn and Luke Donnelly also came in.
After just six minutes, Chalmers tested Gaston in the away goal.
Overlapping down the right, the winger was picked out by Neilson before chopping in and firing a left-foot shot the Lichties keeper had to tip over.
From the resultant corner, taken by Chalmers, Ryan Edwards headed over.
Up the other end, Bobby Linn had the beating of Smith down the left flank and saw his defected shot trickle wide.
On 19 minutes, Mochrie turned neatly in the middle of the park and burst through the heart of the Arbroath defence.
He was inches away from squaring for Lawrence Shankland, poised for a tap in, before Gaston foiled Mochrie at his feet.
Two minutes later, on his second home debut, Mulgrew gave United the lead.
The experienced defender curled home a delicious left-foot free-kick from fully 35 yards that wrong-footed Gaston and snuck in at the near post.
On 24 minutes, neat link up from Shankland and Smith released the latter down the right flank.
His cut-back picked out Harkes in the box, who skipped past a challenge before seeing his strike turned round for a corner.
Chalmers again tried his luck, cutting in from the right and sending a looping effort just wide of the upright.
Linn was, as ever, the Angus side’s dangerman and forced a save out of Benjamin Siegrist just before the half-hour mark.
Headed into half time, Nicky Low called Siegrist into action from distance but it was a comfortable save for the Swiss stopper.
Moments later, Low found Linn in space down the left but, again, he couldn’t find the required finish, lashing way over the bar.
Arbroath push for leveller to no avail
Five minutes into the second period, bursting forward from left-back, Robson came close to putting United two to the good.
His close-range effort was dealt with well by Gaston.
Up the other end, heroic defending from Edwards denied Donnelly from less than 10 yards out.
Butcher tried his luck from distance on the hour mark but it was straight at Gaston.
Arbroath were pushing harder for an equaliser, with Donnelly and then Hilson denied by crucial blocks from Edwards and Smith.
Colin Hamilton had Siegrist at full-stretch with a stinging drive on 68 minutes as Dick Campbell’s men looked the more likely to strike next.
United had to see out the remainder of the game with 10 men after substitute Archie Meekison came off injured.
The Tangerines had already used their designated amount of intervals to make changes, despite only making four subs.
They managed to hold on, though, despite a late push from Arbroath, to maintain their 100% winning record in the 2021/22 season so far.
Dundee United (5-4-1): Siegrist (GK); L Smith, Neilson (Freeman 70), Edwards, Mulgrew, J Robson; Chalmers (Clark 66), Butcher (C), Harkes (Meekison 66), Mochrie; Shankland (Watson 59).
Subs not used: Carson (GK), Pawlett, Hoti, K Smith and Duffy.
Arbroath (4-1-4-1): Gaston (GK); Stewart, Little (C), Henderson, Hamilton; Clark (Gold 75); Hilson, Craigen (Swankie 75), Low, Linn (McKenna 60); Donnelly (Paterson 87).
Subs not used: Douglas (GK).
Referee: John Beaton.