Dundee moved top of Betfred Cup Group B with a 3-0 win over nine-man Cove Rangers at Dens Park.
The Dark Blues were in control for much of the contest but made hard work of their task in the second half against Paul Hartley’s side who played the final 36 minutes two men light.
Blair Yule and Jamie Masson saw red either side of the break but the match wasn’t over as a contest until Danny Mullen’s 84th-minute goal added to Paul McGowan’s opener. Charlie Adam would add a late penalty after missing one in the first half.
Jack Hamilton returned to goal as Dundee boss James McPake made two changes to his starting XI. Jonathan Afolabi missed out with a hamstring issue with Max Anderson taking his place. Lee Ashcroft, Jordon Forster, Alex Jakubiak, Osman Sow and Callum Moore all missed out due to illness or injury.
Deefiant hero Leighton McIntosh, meanwhile, started for Cove.
The home side got off to the perfect start, finding the net after just six minutes with their two wide men key.
Declan McDaid made the goal with a fine bit of play out wide, knocking the ball over his man and then finding Paul McGowan with the low cross.
Playing as a left winger, McGowan made no mistake by taking a touch before firing into the top corner.
Before the half-hour mark McDaid had the chance to make it 2-0 after Danny Mullen’s effort was blocked but smashed wide inside the area.
Five minutes later Cove threatened but Hamilton was equal to the shot, getting down to save well from Mitch Megginson’s low drive.
Shortly before the break the Dark Blues were given the chance to take complete control of the contest as Anderson was brought down in the area.
The ref pointed to the spot and showed Blair Yule a straight red card. The penalty, though, was spurned as Adam’s effort came back out of the post.
Five minutes after the break Adam had another chance, this time set up by McGowan, but dragged his left-foot shot well wide.
The hosts were then reduced to nine men as Jamie Masson was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Jordan Marshall inside the Dundee area.
And seconds later McGowan should have made it 2-0 but blasted over from six yards.
On the hour, the nine men were almost level after Hamilton remarkably dropped the ball but then picked it back up again, giving away an indirect free-kick in the area. Megginson, though, sent the low effort wide.
Paul Hartley made a slew of substitutions to keep his team fresh as they looked to stay in the game. Dundee, meanwhile, were making life hard for themselves with some sloppy passes and touches.
Christie Elliott and Max Anderson would test Stuart McKenzie in the visiting goal but the second goal to kill the contest looked like it might elude James McPake’s side.
With five minutes left on the clock, however, Mullen sealed the victory. Adam found the striker with a lovely ball and the former St Mirren man squeezed it under the goalie.
There was still time for a third as McDaid was brought down in the area. This time Adam made no mistake in smashing the ball home.
Victory sends Dundee top of Group B, level with Hibs on nine points ahead of their meeting at Easter Road on Sunday.
Dundee: J Hamilton, Elliott, Kerr, McGhee (Wilkie 89), Marshall, Byrne (Robertson 75), Anderson (Blacklock 89), Adam, McDaid, McGowan, Mullen (N Hamilton 89).
Subs not used: Ferrie, L Strachan, D Strachan.
Cove Rangers: McKenzie, Sc Ross, R Strachan, Yule, Megginson (McAllister 70) Masson, McIntosh (Watson 70), Livingstone, Semple (Graham 46), Se Ross (Ritchie 68), Brown (Scully 68).
Subs not used: Demus.