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Dundee United 3 Cowdenbeath 0: Tangerines stroll to victory in Betfred Cup tie

Action from the game.
Action from the game.

Dundee United strolled to a comfortable victory over Cowdenbeath at Tannadice to move into pole position at the top of Betfred Cup Group A.

The Tangerines were in control throughout against the League 2 part-timers who understandably toiled in what was their second game against higher league opposition in just three days.

However, the home side did almost all that was asked of them although they probably should have had even more goals to show for their overall dominance.

United opened the scoring through Adrian Sporle, the defender’s first goal for the club, with Lawrence Shankland netting in the second half and Louis Appere adding a third just before the end.

Home boss Robbie Neilson made six changes from the team that beat Stenhousemuir 2-1 at Ochilview on Tuesday night with Deniz Mehmet, Nicky Clark, Sam Stanton, Sporle, Scott Banks and Liam Smith coming in for Benjamin Siegrist, Jamie Robson, Logan Chalmers, Ian Harkes, Louis Appere and Paul Watson.

Blue Brazil manager, former United favourite Gary Bollan, included another ex-Tangerine in his starting line-up in the shape of midfielder Archie Thomas.

United made a brisk start and had a chance in just the third minute when 17-year-old Banks played a neat pass from the right into Stanton but the midfielder was leaning back and hit his shot well over the bar.

Soon after, Cowden keeper Kevin Dabrowski’s heart was in his mouth when he dropped a cross but the danger was cleared.

The home side were then awarded a free-kick on the edge of the Blue Brazil box with Clark finding the unmarked Shankland but his stooping header was diverted wide for a corner by a defender.

The Tangerines’ pressure continued to mount with Banks, who had switched flanks with Paul McMullan to the left, swinging in a teasing cross with Shankland hitting a controlled half volley which Dabrowski saved.

Bollan’s men finally had an opportunity of their own in the 16th minute when the ball broke to Jamie Pyper in the home box but the defender shot wildly over.

Cowdenbeath had another opening when skipper David Cox hit a dipping shot from the edge of the United box with Mehmet diving full length to his left to save.

The Tangerines had their best opportunity of the half so far in the 23rd minute when McMullan dug out a cross from the right with Shankland sending a powerful downward header bouncing just inches wide of Dabrowski’s left-hand post.

However, the breakthrough finally came just three minutes later. Shankland played a lovely-weighted pass into the path of the marauding Sporle breaking down the left into the Cowdenbeath box with the Argentinean full-back producing a calm dinked finish past the exposed Dabrowski.

Shortly after the half-hour mark, the lively Banks cut in from the left and hit a low shot from the edge of the Blue Brazil box which flashed just wide.

It really was one-way traffic now with Dabrowski having to make a superb acrobatic save high to his right to deny Banks and then Clark looked certain to score but he sent his header wide of the woodwork.

As the teams headed down the tunnel at half-time, the Blue Brazil would have been mightily relieved to only be one goal in arrears.

In the 53rd minute, United came agonisingly close to making it two when Clark hit a free-kick from 20 yards that clipped the top of the crossbar.

However, the Tangerines’ lead remained a slender one with Cowdenbeath being presented with another opportunity but Kris Renton failed to take advantage and hit a tame effort which Mehmet easily saved.

The second goal did finally come in the 59th minute from the prolific Shankland. Banks hit a superb cross from the left with the former Ayr striker sending a looping header from 14 yards over Dabrowski and into the net.

United went hunting for the third with Calum Butcher next to have a chance but this time the Cowden keeper made a good save to deny the midfielder.

In the 76th minute, Shankland was denied what looked a certain second when he capitalised on hesitation in the Blue Brazil box but Pyper raced back to clear the striker’s shot off his goal-line.

Bollan was raging in the 82nd minute when he felt his side were denied a penalty but the officials were not convinced.

And United rubbed salt into the wound in the 87th minute when Logan Chalmers fired a cross in from the left to fellow sub Appere who sent another looping header high past Dabrowski.

Attendance – 2,526.

Dundee United – Mehmet, Smith, Sporle, Connolly, Reynolds, McMullan (Chalmers, 76), Clark (Harkes, 78), Stanton, Butcher, Shankland, Banks (Appere, 81).

Subs not used – Siegrist, Robson, King, Watson.

Cowdenbeath – Dabrowski, Mullen, Pyper, Todd, Herd (Allan, 45), Miller, Cox, Buchanan, Taylor, Thomas, Renton.

Subs not used – Whyte, Valentine, Sheerin, Sneddon, Connolly, Pollock.

Referee – David Lowe.