Defeat to Arbroath in the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup was disappointing for Dundee United, and Peter Pawlett is not going to pretend otherwise.
However, for the attacker, any pain caused by the penalty shoot-out loss at the weekend was softened considerably by his taking another big step towards full match fitness.
After a summer spent battling to recover from a knee problem that flared up in the closing weeks of last term, the 28-year-old has now had two appearances from the bench and a couple of starts in recent weeks.
And he believes that’s left him not too far away from being ready to play a starring role in United’s promotion push this term.
“I’ve missed a lot of pre-season and, for me, that was just my second start of the season,” said the former Aberdeen and MK Dons man.
“Dundee was my first, now Arbroath, and it was good to get those minutes under the belt.
“After about 70 minutes on Saturday I was getting a bit of cramp, so it was good to get that time on the pitch and build things up a bit more.
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with Evening Telegraph newsletter
“I basically did nothing in pre-season and I was with the physios most of the time. I was doing my own little bits here and there but it was nothing like the same intensity as when you are training with the rest of the squad and playing games, and that’s what’s bringing me on now.
“And I do feel sharp, but against Dundee it was about 60 minutes that I started to feel my calves. Against Arbroath it was about 75 before the same happened and I stayed on until about the 80 mark, so it was another 15 minutes before I began feeling it.
“I am feeling good on the pitch, it’s just that endurance to go the full 90 that I’m still missing right now.
“In a game or two, something like that, I should be there and that’s good. On top of that there have been no aches and pains and, right now, that’s the most important thing.”
That said, he was irked by the loss on penalties to the Lichties after Saturday’s tie remained goalless at the end of 90 minutes.
He does, though, believe United will put the experience to good use when Arbroath return in the league on Saturday week.
Pawlett added: “Of course the result was disappointing and we will analyse the performance, have a good look at it. I thought we played some good stuff at times but we didn’t win and we weren’t happy.
“Arbroath are clever at what they do and they have some good experienced players who know what they’re doing.
“They are a good, organised team and they can slow the game down when they need to. They have had some good results already this season and they are a really tough outfit to play against.”
Pawlett also pointed out, as well as the way the opposition were set up, they did have goalkeeper Derek Gaston to thank for progressing to the next round.
Gaston made a string of excellent second-half saves, including one to deny him, to keep the scores level.
“I thought their keeper made some really good saves to deny us but, for him, it could have been two or three-nil for us.
“Again, though, they played well and they defended well and we can’t complain much about the result, they’ve beaten us on penalties and they did well.
“We play them again in a couple of weeks. We’ve had that look at them now and that could help.
“We’ve also got that added incentive of this defeat when we do go and play them in the league.”