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Dundee United: 3 things we learned from Ayr Premier Sports Cup win

Dundee United were awarded a penalty while Ayr's Jack Baird was sent off for this foul on Ryan Edwards.

It wasn’t a vintage display but Dundee United managed to find a way past Ayr at Somerset Park yesterday to book their place in the Premier Sports Cup quarter-finals.

Falling behind to a Tomi Adeloye strike on 56 minutes, the Tangerines appeared to be sinking without a trace.

That was until whistler Nick Walsh pointed to the spot with 10 minutes remaining after Jack Baird – shown a second yellow card and sent off – brought down Ryan Edwards in the box.

It was a reprieve Nicky Clark was glad to accept as he tucked away from 12 yards to force extra time and penalties.

Terrors No 1 Benjamin Siegrist would save twice when it counted – from Patrick Reading and Jonathan Afolabi – as Clark stepped up once more to stroke home the winner.

It was a little bit smash and grab but what else did we learn from United’s last-16 win in Ayrshire?

Rangers no false dawn but work to be done

A performance like the one at Ayr immediately after United’s magnificent 1-0 Premiership win over Rangers last weekend would have even the most ardent Arab questioning their team.

Was the victory over the champions a false dawn under new boss Tam Courts? It’s still far too early to tell.

What is for certain is the Terrors need to step their levels up for their league trip to St Johnstone next Sunday.

Tomi Adeloye slots home Ayr’s opener.

The Championship Honest Men dominated the contest on the west coast and, when down to 10 men, United still failed to assert themselves.

Keeping cool under pressure won the day for the Tangerines, which is of course a virtue, but their flat performance was concerning.

All that said, it was United’s first win at Somerset Park in six attempts – since a 1-0 success in December 2016 thanks to a goal from Tope Obadeyi.

Small victories, eh?

Siegrist is a supreme stopper

We knew this already but it’s worth hammering home the point that Siegrist is a top class goalkeeper.

Not only did he make two saves in the shoot-out, he made a couple of big stops from Reading and Mark McKenzie soon after Adeloye had given Ayr the lead.

Had they gone in, there’d have been no way back for a blunt and lacklustre United.

Benjamin Siegrist celebrates penalty shoot-out success.

Siegrist, who was captain on the day, is a calm and reassuring presence between the sticks for the Terrors and a man they’d do well to hold on to this summer.

The 29-year-old’s qualities are not lost on his boss.

He said: “It was probably the most comfortable I’ve been at a penalty shoot-out in my managerial career.

“I just thought he’d enjoy being centre stage and he was our match-winner in the end.”

McNulty will thrive in No 9 role

Although his penalty in the shoot-out almost hit a satellite, returning hitman Marc McNulty showed plenty of promise in the No 9 role on his second United debut.

Returning for a second stint at Tannadice on loan from Reading, after spending last season in tangerine, the 28-year-old Scotland cap ended up getting about an hour of football under his belt as the game went way beyond the 90.

He wasn’t match fit, far from it, but ‘Sparky’ had enough chances to suggest he’ll get more than the five goals he managed for the Terrors last time.

Marc McNulty is back in tangerine.

“It’s going to take him a few weeks to get match sharp,” Courts said.

“We got all his data from Reading so we know what he’s actually capable of giving us right now – which is probably minutes from the bench.

“I thought he was lively when he came on and had a couple of chances but they’re probably still searching for his ball after the penalty shoot-out!”