A Peter Pawlett strike was enough to secure Dundee United a perfect record to end their cup group as they downed East Fife 1-0.
Pawlett’s second of the competition at New Bayview meant United made it four wins from four in the Premier Sports Cup.
They finish top of Group B and progress into the last-16, likely as a seeded side due to their 100% record and plus-eight goal difference.
The Terrors now prepare to kick off their league campaign with a trip to Aberdeen a week on Sunday.
Flat first half-hour but Pawlett pounces
United made five changes from Saturday’s 1-0 win over Arbroath at Tannadice with Flynn Duffy, Kieran Freeman, Jeando Fuchs, Pawlett and Nicky Clark coming in.
Freeman proved to be the main outlet for United in the early stages, rampaging down the right flank at will.
His floated delivery found Ian Harkes at the back post on five minutes but the American couldn’t get a strong enough connection on his strike to trouble Scott Gallacher in the home goal.
East Fife were creating chances of their own, with the left flank, through Pat Slattery and Danny Denholm, proving particularly fruitful.
However, bursting down the right wing, Aaron Dunsmore’s ball into the box won the Fifers a corner.
From the resultant Scott Mercer kick, captain and former United striker Kevin Smith nodded narrowly over.
The Tangerines were struggling to find their rhythm and a way through a compact and organised East Fife as the game approached the half-hour mark.
A strong band of Arabs among the crowd in New Bayview were growing frustrated the longer the half wore on, with the substitutes coming out to warm up garnering the biggest cheer of the match.
Down the right was were it looked most likely to happen for the Terrors with Freeman and Liam Smith, at right centre-half, combining nicely.
Slattery found his way into the book for a heavy challenge on Harkes on 36 minutes, giving Pawlett a chance to swing a ball into the box.
His deep delivery from the right edge of the area was well cleared by the Fifers defensive line, however.
Five minutes before the interval, though, and it was Pawlett giving United the lead.
Tenacious play in midfield from Harkes to keep the ball alive, with United on the break, saw the American release Pawlett in on goal before the wide man rolled the ball under an on-rushing Gallacher.
It was almost two a few minutes later as Smith neatly brought down Calum Butcher’s cross-field ball in the area but Gallacher grabbed his shot at the second attempt.
Aggressive Fifers battle back before subs inject energy into Terrors
After the break, the Fifers went after United – hunting in packs to recover the ball and try to find a way back into the game.
Connor McManus was a little overzealous, however, and found his way into referee Alan Muir’s book for a heavy challenge on Pawlett.
From the resultant free-kick, a Ryan Edwards knockdown nearly landed at the feet of Clark but the hitman was clattered as home goalie Gallacher came out to claim the ball.
On the attack, Darren Young’s men were threatening.
Mercer fired an inviting ball across the six-yard box that was begging to be tapped home.
Shortly after, making a rare mistake, Tangerines No 1 Benjamin Siegrist saw the ball nicked off his toe in the area by Shaun Brown but the Methil side couldn’t capitalise.
A triple change on 61 minutes injected some life into the Tangerines with Lawrence Shankland, Logan Chalmers and Kerr Smith checking in for Clark, Harkes and Edwards.
Chalmers looked lively while Shankland tried to knit together play up front, playing in Butcher and Freeman for half-chances.
A Brown strike from range on 66 minutes called Siegrist into action before United passed up a great opportunity to strengthen their lead with 15 minutes remaining.
Although nice interplay in the area, the Terrors overplayed their chance with sub Flo Hoti, Pawlett and Shankland all involved.
It wasn’t the prettiest ending to the game, bar Hoti’s last second strike that forced a save out of Gallacher, but United saw it out to maintain new boss Tam Courts’ 100% record in the hot seat, albeit against lower league opposition.
The big test of this new-look Terrors side will be at Pittodrie next weekend when the Premiership gets under way.
Dundee United (5-4-1): Siegrist (GK); Freeman, L Smith, Edwards (K Smith 61), Mulgrew (Reynolds 45), Duffy; Harkes (Chalmers 61), Butcher (C), Fuchs (Hoti 73), Pawlett; Clark (Shankland 61).
Subs not used: Carson (GK), Neilson, Mochrie and F Robson.
East Fife (4-4-2): Gallacher (GK); Mercer, Dunlop, Higgins, Slattery; Dunsmore (Watt 69), Davidson (Newton 72), McManus, Denholm (Dow 79); Smith (C) (Cunningham 79), Brown.
Subs not used: Campbell (GK), Steele, Anderson and Allan.
Referee: Alan Muir.