Ray McKinnon, the Dundee United manager, declared his side more than ready to face city rivals Dundee as he relishes his first taste of the unique fixture ahead of Sunday’s derby cup clash at Dens Park.
The relentless Tangerines secured their third consecutive victory courtesy of this Sunday stroll in which they cruised past Cowdenbeath 4-1 in yesterday’s Betfred Cup tie at Tannadice and, in so doing, claimed outright leadership in Group C.
McKinnon’s men have already built up some valuable momentum following the agony of missing out on promotion back to the Premiership at the hands of Hamilton in last season’s play-off final, and goals here by summer signings Sam Stanton, pictured, and Billy King as well as Scott Fraser’s penalty and youngster Matthew Smith’s late strike maintained their 100 per cent League Cup record.
Now his new-look side are preparing to lift themselves further for the visit to take on their old adversaries in their televised tie this weekend and manager McKinnon insists they couldn’t be in much better form.
“We’ll go there on the back of some decent form,” said McKinnon afterwards.
“This should set us up nicely for that derby. This will be my first derby as manager so I can’t wait.
“It’s very pleasing overall. It was a tricky tie with Cowdenbeath coming here and having everyone behind the ball.
“It can make life difficult trying to break them down.
“At half-time, we wanted to be more direct, so we changed the system a bit.
“We maybe tried to overplay a bit and score the perfect goal but there were some good goals in there despite that.”
Having strolled to a 3-0 victory away to Highland League champions Buckie Thistle earlier in the week to add to their opening win over League 1 side Raith Rovers, the hosts were being hotly tipped to continue their winning form.
Harry Lewis retained his place between the sticks for the Tangerines having joined recently on loan for the season from English club Southampton.
For Cowdenbeath, Billy Brown’s men arrived on Tayside in decent fettle having defeated Buckie Thistle 4-2 at Central Park the previous week.
Brown set his side up to attack whenever the opportunity arose but chances were few and far between until the Tangerines broke the deadlock right on the half-hour mark.
It was a simple enough strike with Billy King releasing Stanton who calmly struck his shot past visiting keeper David McGurn from 12 yards for his first goal for the club since moving on loan from Premiership new boys Hibernian.
The visitors made a change at the start of the second half, with substitute keeper Joe McGovern replacing McGurn.
The first touch of the ball by former United youth goalkeeper McGovern came when he had to pick the ball from the back of the net.
Smith sent King free and he outstripped the visiting defence and kept his composure to lift his effort over the advancing McGovern to kill the tie.
Fraser then made it 3-0 with a textbook penalty after Jamie Pyper had brought down King just inside the box.
Muirhead grabbed a 76th minute consolation for Cowdenbeath with a low drive past Lewis from Shaun Rutherford’s cross.
Then, in 80 minutes, Smith completed the rout with a close-range finish after McGovern had parried King’s shot.
Brown hailed his part-time Fifers for their efforts. “For a team that finished bottom of all the leagues in Scotland last season, I thought they acquitted themselves fairly well,” he said.