Dundee 4-0 Peterhead: Impressive start for Hartley

Dundee's Simon Ferry celebrates his opening goal. Picture: SNS
Dundee's Simon Ferry celebrates his opening goal. Picture: SNS
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There will be tougher tests along the way but Dundee have the look of a team who should have no fears about returning to the Scottish Premiership.

Paul Hartley’s side, featuring eight of his 12 summer signings, had a routine win over League One Peterhead at Dens and will have a better idea of how they’re likely to fare in the season ahead after next weekend’s Scottish Premiership curtain-raiser with Kilmarnock.

Still, the signs were encouraging as last season’s Championship winners swept past Peterhead to seal their place in the next round of the League Cup.

Goals in the first-half from summer arrivals Simon Ferry and Greg Stewart followed by further strikes from Peter MacDonald and German Luka Tankulic meant they began the new season in style.

And, afterwards, Hartley insisted they were aiming to turn on the style like that every week.

“That’s how we want to play,” he said. “We wouldn’t want to play any other way, like being direct, with the players we’ve got. So far, it’s been impressive and we want that to continue. I was really pleased with the players here and getting that first goal early on definitely helped.”

This first-round tie gave fans their first glimpse of the side in competitive action after just one defeat in five pre-season outings. And the hosts almost grabbed a fourth-minute lead when Gary Harkins worked a slick one-two with Tankulic which cut open the Blue Toon defence.

Harkins let fly from 16-yards but his thunderous shot crashed back off the bar with visiting keeper Graeme Smith beaten.

Tankulic was in the thick of the action again a few minutes later when his whipped cross picked out fellow forward Stewart, whose glancing header flashed past the post.

Jim McInally’s Peterhead were struggling to get out of their own half but gave the Dundee defence a scare on 13 minutes. Andy Rogers’ pass allowed Rory McAllister to get in between two Dark Blues defenders, but home keeper Kyle Letheren raced off his line to clear the danger.

Then, after 16 minutes, Harkins had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock from Kevin Thomson’s defence-splitting pass but, as Smith advanced from his goal, Harkins could only shoot right at him.

The Taysiders didn’t have too much longer to wait and went ahead in 20 minutes. Tankulic surged into the box and saw his snap-shot saved by Smith before Ferry netted the rebound from close-range. But the part-time Blue Toon almost stole an equaliser in 31 minutes.

James Stevenson’s corner was met by Scott Ross whose bullet header looked destined for the net, only for Thomson to head off the line.

At the other end, Thomas 
Konrad saw his downward header from Harkins’ corner deflected wide as the hosts sought to increase their lead.

Dundee did make it 2-0 right on the interval when Paul McGowan slipped in new boy Stewart and he made no mistake with his powerful 12-yard finish past Smith.

Dundee defender Kyle Benedictus almost gifted Peterhead a way back into the tie just after the break.

His pass was intercepted by Jamie Redman, who quickly fed Rogers, and his cross was turned just over the bar by McAllister.

Any hope of a comeback was killed off in 78 minutes when substitute MacDonald rose unchallenged to head home at the back post. And, in 82 minutes, Tankulic rounded things off with a well-taken eight-yard finish from Harkins’ deft cross.

Jim McInally, the Peterhead manager, was full of praise for his opponents.

“Dundee killed us with their craft,” he said McInally. “They were a joy to watch and could be pushing for a top-six place this season.”