Dumbarton manager Stevie Aitken admitted to being flattered by links to the vacant Dundee United position after a Sam Stanton double ended a turbulent week for the visitors on a positive note.
Aitken dismissed suggestions the rumours were distracting and refused to rule out any interest in the job, saying: “Dundee United are a big club and it is flattering as a manger to be linked with any job but that is because of the good work I have done at Dumbarton and that is still my focus now.”
With less than two minutes on the clock, the decision of caretaker Tangerines manager Laurie Ellis to ring five changes from Ray McKinnon’s final game in charge was immediately vindicated when United took the lead through a brilliant strike by Sam Stanton. After enterprising play down the right by the recalled Matthew Smith, the ball fell to the midfielder and he beautifully curled a left-footed effort into the top corner.
Stanton grabbed his second following a well-worked corner straight off the training ground. Scott Fraser delivered low to the on-loan Hibernian player who peeled off his marker and his shot slipped fortuitously through the hands of Dumbarton goalkeeper Scott Gallacher.
Sons fans were infuriated when only a corner was awarded after Mark Durnan appeared to handle in the box. The ball was fizzed across goal from the resulting flag kick and Craig Barr was agonisingly close to connecting with United keeper Harry Lewis stranded.
Dumbarton struggled to respond in the first half and Fraser, evasive in his role behind Scott McDonald, began dictating the tempo of the game. The midfielder released Billy King who impressively weaved his way between two defenders before firing high over the bar.
The second half started in a similar fashion with the Arabs dominating and man-of-the-match Fraser pulling the strings. His corner was headed narrowly wide by Durnan before his perfectly weighted pass found McDonald and the experienced striker forced an impressive fingertip save from Gallacher.
Dumbarton’s miserable afternoon continued when Barr was sent off after 63 minutes when he went down in the box and received a second yellow card, for simulation.
The game petered out after the dismissal, United were happy to slow the tempo although Stanton came close to a hat-trick when he forced a good save from Gallacher.
Ellis ruled himself out of contention for the United job, stating: “No, I won’t be taking over. I’ve respected the challenge this week but I’m still young and it’s a big appointment for the club.”