Dundee United had a “buy one, get one free” kind of Saturday, with progress in a cup coupled with a great result in the league.
The early kick-off for their 1-0 win over Dunfermline in the Irn-Bru Cup quarter-final at East End Park meant the Tangerines could relax on the team bus on the way up the road and listen to Hibs only drawing at home to 10-man Falkirk in the Championship.
The radio commentary must have been music to their ears, with the result at Easter Road meaning they sit only one solitary point behind the leaders from Leith.
It was a big “bogof” bonus that arrived just hours after they had taken care of business by reaching today’s semi-final cup draw.
United are Scotland’s in-form side at the moment and defender Mark Durnan’s deflected shot on eight minutes – his third goal in four matches – meant they have won their last seven games and are unbeaten in nine stretching back to the Betfred Cup loss away to Morton on September 20.
That is some record and it will now be put to the test, perhaps fittingly, at Cappielow on Saturday before the big one against the Hibees at home on December 2.
With the games coming thick and fast, it was not surprising that manager Ray McKinnon chose to use his squad to the max, with eight changes being made to the team that started the league clash against the Pars last midweek.
The only survivors from that 1-0 victory in the Championship were Durnan, Jamie Robson and Simon Murray.
That meant starts for Luis Zwick, Sean Dillon, Coll Donaldson, Lewis Toshney, Blair Spittal, Nick van der Velden, Cammy Smith and Bradley Smith – all still recognised members of the first-team squad.
Also, off the bench came young Graham Taylor for his debut, Ali Coote got a runout, while there was a welcome return from long-term injury for Stewart Murdoch.
So it was little wonder that McKinnon was satisfied.
He said: “It has been a good week for us.
“We made eight changes but got the same result as Tuesday so I am over the moon.
“We want to win the competition but we also want to utilise the squad properly.
“It was a good opportunity for some players coming back from injury to get fitness.
“A couple of kids got on as well so, overall, it just shows me that the squad is strong.
“We weren’t slick by any stretch of the imagination and we passed up a few chances but overall I have to be pleased with that.”
The Pars, as was the case in the league game at Tannadice, didn’t do themselves any favours by having a man sent off, with Lewis Martin the culprit on 57 minutes for fouling Spittal.
He was shown the red card for pulling back the United midfielder after he had robbed him on the halfway line then attempted to sprint goalwards.
The home team also had a strong claim for a penalty in stoppage-time when United’s Donaldson challenged sub Farid El Alagui just inside the visitors’ box but referee Willie Collum infuriated the supporters by saying no.
Dunfermline manager Allan Johnston said: “I don’t know if it was a penalty or whether it was in the box or not, but it was a clear freekick anyway.
“Surely the referee’s got to see that. The whole stadium saw it.
“The boys did great when they went down to 10 men and I don’t think it was a sending-off either.
“He still had 40 yards to run and Lee Ashcroft was coming round to cover. Do you class that as a clear goalscoring opportunity?
“I don’t think there was a lot in the game at all. It was a bit scrappy at times.
“Our results haven’t been good enough but I think we’ve got players capable of turning it round.”
While Durnan’s goal had the away fans applauding, arguably the biggest cheer of the day was reserved for referee Collum when he fell flat on his backside after being knocked over by Dunfermline’s John Herron early in the game.
The hardy official quickly got back up, though, and the Pars players now need to show the same determination as Collum if they are to lift themselves up the league table in the weeks ahead.