Dundee United crashed out of the Scottish Cup courtesy of a 1-0 defeat against Kilmarnock, with the Tangerines finishing the match with 10 men for a second successive fixture.
Kyle Vassell headed home the only goal of the game after Mark Birighitti flapped at a Danny Armstrong corner.
Loick Ayina, meanwhile, saw his United debut end with a red card after picking up a second booking for a foul on Vassell.
Despite a largely uninspiring showing, the hosts did strike the bar through Liam Smith and Aziz Behich in the second period. However, that will be cold comfort following a fifth defeat in their last seven matches.
This was Killie’s first win away from Rugby Park in six months.
Kilmarnock were adamant they should have been awarded a penalty when Scott McMann blocked an Armstrong cross with his hand.
Referee Alan Muir was uninterested. One suspects a VAR observer would have been.
Similarly, a crunching tackle on Brad Lyons by debutant Ayina probably straddled the line between yellow and red card. Mr Muir went for the caution.
Rory McKenzie stung the palms of Birighitti from distance as half-time approached and Killie continued to make the running.
United, presumably with a flea in their ear, emerged with far more impetus after the break.
A powerful Craig Sibbald drive forced a sharp save from Saw Walker, before Liam Smith saw a header clip the cross-bar following a fine Glenn Middleton delivery.
However, it would be the visitors who grabbed the lead.
Birighitti flapped at an Armstrong corner-kick, allowing Vassell to rise highest and nod home his first goal in Killie colours. Not the Aussie stopper’s finest hour.
United’s bid for parity was dealt a blow when Ayina was sent off for a second bookable offence after hauling down the excellent Vassell.
Charlie Mulgrew fizzed a couple of shots over the bar, while Aziz Behich thundered a ferocious shot against the cross-bar; the second time United were denied by the woodwork.
United’s star man: Liam Smith
Very few men in mint emerged with pass marks.
Until his sending off, Ayina was arguably United’s star man. His display was packed with pace, power and aggression. However, the latter ultimately proved to be his downfall.
Smith was the other United player to do himself justice.
He linked up well with Cudjoe on occasions, struck the bar with a header and won a dangerous free-kick when a dash towards the box was unceremoniously halted. He was decent going forward and solid at the back.
Dundee United (3-4-2-1): Birighitti 5; Ayina 6, Mulgrew 6, McMann 5; Smith 7, Sibbald 6, Levitt 5, Niskanen 4 (Behich 56, 3); Cudjoe 5 (MacLeod 63, 3), Middleton 6 (Anaku 88); Fletcher 6. Subs not used: Newman, Graham, Djoum, Freeman, Thomson, Petrie.
Manager under the microscope
With Jamie McGrath, Ian Harkes and Peter Pawlett all injured, and Ryan Edwards suspended, head coach Liam Fox had conundrums to solve.
The Tannadice boss went with Matthew Cudjoe on the right wing behind Fletcher, while Ayina was deployed on the right side of United’s back-three.
Seeking to keep their cup dream alive, United’s lack of experienced options was laid bare. Rory MacLeod, 17, replaced Cudjoe, 18. Beyond that, available attackers were Miller Thomson and Sadat Anaku.
Nevertheless, Fox will come under scrutiny for a below-par showing against a Killie side with a woeful record on the road, particularly during a dire first half.