Evening Telegraph

Gutted Craig Easton sees the pluses despite Dundee United Irn-Bru Cup exit

Craig Easton took charge of United on Saturday.

He was gutted to see his young team exit the Irn-Bru Cup on penalties but reserve team boss Craig Easton knows the tie against Alloa saw a triple boost for Dundee United.

Full-back Callum Booth got 45 minutes after his injury-hit start to the season following a summer switch from Partick Thistle.

Winger Billy King, recovered from a thigh problem, then came on for the last 26 minutes in his first appearance of the campaign.

And the biggest plus had to be the sight of club captain Fraser Fyvie coming on for the final 20 – his first game time since way back on December 23 when he ruptured a cruciate ligament in his knee.

While Fyvie and King will need more game time in the reserves before they’re ready for a return to Championship action with the full first team, Craig knows how important the sight of them on the pitch was.

“We wanted to give Fraser Fyvie 20, 25 minutes and it was the same way with Billy King because they are both coming back from time out with injury,” he said.

“It’s like seeing two new signings for us.

“Fraser is club captain and been out for a while now.

“He’s worked so hard to get to where he is now in terms of his fitness and it’s a case of him now getting a few minutes under his belt, maybe in the reserves.

“It’s the same with Billy as well.

“It is good to see them fit and back on the pitch and it will be a boost for the supporters and a boost for the boys in the changing room as well.

“Callum was pre-arranged. He’s had a wee bit of an injury, he’s come back and he got a bit of game time at Alloa last week and the gaffer wanted him to play 45 minutes, so we always knew it was happening.”

Those pluses didn’t stop Craig being disappointed for his team, who went out on penalties after losing a late equaliser to an Alan Trouten spot-kick.

Matty Smith had given United the lead after 15 minutes.

“Holding the lead for so long and, I thought, managing the game reasonably well to a certain extent, I thought we were going to see it out,” added Craig.

“We were maybe a wee bit deep at times and we were inviting a bit of pressure but they are a good team and they were going to do that.

“I felt we were always a threat on the break so I didn’t see it as a massive problem, though when you have Trouten on the park, he has good movement and is dangerous.

“You’ve got Dario Zannatta as well causing problems and wee Greig Spence was a handful as well.”

The key moment in the game was when young midfielder Archie Thomas, playing his first full game since he was injured in the first-round win over St Johnstone, recorded the only miss of the penalty shoot-out.

Craig felt for the former Southamption kid who he believed had turned in a Man-of-the-Match performance.

“It was unfortunate for Archie that his penalty was saved. He’s down about it but I thought he was outstanding during the game and probably the best player on the park.”

The focus at United is now back on Championship duty and Saturday’s visit of Morton.