Dundee United maintained their perfect record in the Betfred Cup group stages as they strolled to victory over Cowdenbeath at Tannadice.
Sam Stanton struck in the first half, Billy King, Scott Fraser, and Matty Smith in the second to give Ray McKinnon’s team the easiest of wins, though they would have been a touch disappointed at giving the visitors a consolation when Cameron Muirhead netted.
United now have nine points from a possible nine in Group C and may have already qualified for the knockout rounds by the time they head over the road to face Dundee in a week.
United were without the services of injured trio Mark Durnan, Patrick N’Koyi and James Keatings. That meant Tam Scobbie partnered William Edjenguele in central defence, while kid Matty Smith was handed a starting place up front.
From the off the home team were doing the pressing, but it took until the 11th minute for them to test David McGurn in the Cowden goal. His first serious action came when Sam Stanton moved the ball on to his left foot just inside the penalty area before sending in a powerful angled drive that McGurn did well to stop.
When Jordie Briels found Paul McMullan on the right flank, the winger sent a dangerous looking cross into the middle where David Syme did well to clear just before it reached Smith right in front of goal.
For all their possession United were not creating enough openings, though it surely had to be only a matter of time before they converted the pressure into a lead.
So it proved and there was no real surprise when the opener came in the 30th minute. On the edge of the box, King slipped a neat pass to Stanton and he ran on to it before calmly placing the ball past McGurn and into the net.
It was no less that the home team deserved, but they did have a scare just a couple of minutes later when a Matthew McInally cross skimmed the top of Harry Lewis’ bar.
More good work from King five minutes before the break almost brought a second goal. He moved the ball on to his right foot, evaded one tackle and was unlucky to see his 14yard shot blocked.
Cowdenbeath switched goalkeepers for the second half, with former United youth Joe McGovern taking over from McGurn. His first task was to pick the ball out of his net as the home team went two up less than a minute after the restart.
Slackness in the visitors’ defence allowed King to gather the ball 40 yards or so from goal and he made tracks for the box before beating the hapless McGovern with neat chip.
Just short of the 50th minute mark Cowden’s first shot on target came. It was a low Robertson Buchanan effort from around 16 yards, but Lewis was alert to the danger and made a comfortable save.
That effort apart, it continued to be all United and their third came in the 67th minute. Fullback Jamie Robson was sent crashing just inside the box by Jamie Pyper and referee Alan Newlands immediately pointed to the spot. That gave Fraser the chance to step up and send McGovern the wrong way for his first of the season.
The home team were in total control and that gave them a chance to hand a debut to 17-year-old Logan Chalmers, who replaced Fraser with around and quarter of an hour left.
The the shock of almost the entire crowd, Cowdenbeath pulled a goal back in the 76th minute. Shaun Rutherford crossed from the left and when the ball reached Muirhead at the back post, he took a touch before drilling a good shot past Lewis.
The three goal lead, however, was restored in the 80th minute. King shot low from the edge of the area and although McGovern made a fine save, Matty Smith was there to slam home the rebound.
There was still time for a couple more near things and Smith was denied a second by a fine block from McGovern, before Robson headed just wide from a corner.