Having enjoyed a prolific 2017, excelling in the forbidding temperatures in the Icelandic top-flight, it is little wonder Emil Lyng looked so at home in snow-kissed Clackmannanshire as he helped Dundee United dispatch Alloa.
Lyng, who joined United this month following nine goals in 20 outings for KA Akureyri last year, opened his account for the Tannadice outfit to end this fourth round tie as a contest at 2-0, capping a bright display on the wing from the former Denmark under-21 cap.
That effort, which did benefit from a kind deflection, added to Mark Durnan’s third goal of the season. Gloss could have been added in the dying embers when Idris Kadded, the French striker whose signing was confirmed prior to kick-off, struck the bar.
The victory provides welcome respite for United in the face of their increasingly inconsistent exploits in the Championship, albeit they required a blunt half-time assessment from manager Csaba Lazslo to prompt an upturn in performance.
“I was very loud in the dressing room at half-time,” revealed the United boss. “I told them that when they go on to the pitch, I want to see the spirit. It is not enough to be wearing the Dundee United jersey – the shirt doesn’t win the game, the man does.
“The players understood that they needed to do more and I was very satisfied with the response. They were completely different halves and, in the end, I believe we deserve to be in the next round.
“It was also positive for Emil Lyng to score today and I think he played a good game for us. We are in the next round and there were many reasons to be positive.”
Alloa were able to toast a notable victory before a ball was kicked, with sterling efforts throughout the week by groundsman Jock Robertson and assorted volunteers ensuring the club’s artificial turf and surrounding areas at the Indodrill Stadium were deemed safe following a 10.30am inspection.
With an impressive following from Tayside descending upon Alloa, beating the freeze guaranteed a fine payday for the League 1 side which would not have been replicated on a rearranged Tuesday evening.
Jordan Kirkpatrick had a glorious opportunity to give the hosts the lead in the opening exchanges after Kris Renton delivered a sumptuous delivery into the box, only for the St Mirren loanee to fire over from all of six yards.
United, being watched from the stands by a Scottish Cup-winning hero of yesteryear in Hearts coach Jon Daly, almost claimed the lead in rather fortuitous fashion as Jamie Robson’s cross drifted towards goal. Wasps keeper Neil Parry heaved a sigh of relief as the ball kissed the crossbar and bounced to safety.
In their first coherent attacking move Billy King neatly found Stanton on the edge of the Alloa box, but the playmaker’s curling effort drifted inches wide of Parry’s right-hand post.
The first period was being punctuated by massive sheets of snow falling off the stand housing the United support, prompting an avalanche of ironic cheers. However they had something more substantial to sing about on the cusp of half-time as they claimed a scarcely merited lead.
The simplicity with which the visitors broke the deadlock will infuriate Alloa boss Jim Goodwin, with a Craig Slater corner met by Durnan – United’s most obvious threat from set-pieces – to head beyond Parry from close range.
Freed by their opener, United started the second half with plenty of attacking impetus and only a wonderful save by Parry, getting his feet to a point-blank Scott McDonald shot, stopped Laszlo’s side from doubling their advantage.
Their second goal did come, however, when Lyng ran on to a through ball from Sam Stanton and fired a shot beyond Parry from just inside the box, via a notable ricochet off the unfortunate Callum Crane.
With part-time Alloa fading badly, Laszlo sent on Kadded – signed on amateur terms – for his debut and he wasted no time in making an impact, latching on to a Billy King pass and rattling a ferocious drive against the cross-bar.
“I’m really proud of my players. I think they gave everything and made life very difficult for a good Dundee United side,” added Goodwin. “We wanted to get at them and make it a nervy afternoon for them and I think we did that. If we had got that first goal, I’d like to see how things would have panned out.”