Dundee eased through to the third round of the Scottish Communities League Cup with a straightforward 4-0 win over Raith Rovers at Dens Park. Greg Stewart and Paul McGinn scored in the first half. Peter MacDonald and Martin Boyle completed the scoring after half time. The Dark Blues dominated an open game and should have added more goals. However, the fans won't be complaining about the quality of the entertainment on offer.
This performance illustrated the strength of squad now available to Paul Hartley. The team had six changes from Saturday. Scott Bain and Philip Roberts made their debuts and all three of Saturday's substitutes, Iain Davidson, Martin Boyle and Peter MacDonald kept their places while Greg Stewart also started.
Bain played behind an unchanged four man defence; Jim McAlister was the only player from Saturday's midfield and forwards to start. Dundee lined up with a very adventurous 4-4-2 with Boyle and Roberts offering plenty of pace on the wings.
Boyle provided the first shot after only a minute. The ball took a slight deflection that sent it over the bar. When Roberts' corner came over Greg STEWART was completely unmarked and rose to score with a powerful header from 10 yards.
Rovers' defence was all over the place in the early stages and they were fortunate not to concede again. Defensive hesitancy allowed MacDonald and Stewart room on the edge of the penalty area, but Stewart's shot was straight at keeper Cuthbert.
The visitors pulled themselves together and looked for a spell as if they might make a contest of the match. They were fielding three ex-Dees, Ryan Conroy, Christian Nadé and Mark Stewart. Nadé's strength and close control posed occasional problems, but it was Conroy who came closest to equalising. He whipped in a free kick that Bain tipped onto the bar and out for a corner.
The Dark Blues always looked dangerous when they came forward and Rovers' right back Thomson was struggling to deal with the speed of Roberts. MacDonald and Stewart caused the visitors' central defence endless problems with their clever movement and exchanges. Kevin Cuthbert was the only man in the Raith rearguard who could feel happy about his performance and he did well to keep out a stream of shots from the Dee's strikers.
Dundee eventually scored a deserved second goal just before the break and it was a cracker. Paul MCGINN cut in from the right and hit a sweet, curling left shot into the top corner from 22 yards.
Thomas Konrad was replaced by Paul McGowan at half time and Iain Davidson dropped back into central defence. The change didn't disrupt the Dee. Raith's resistance largely evaporated and Dundee went on to play some lovely football in a one sided second half.
Dundee seemed to have scored a third when Cuthbert spilled a Stewart shot. Boyle turned in the loose ball, but the referee ruled the goal out for a foul on the keeper.
The third goal followed quickly. Boyle raced clear on the right and played a low cross for MACDONALD to flick the ball home.
Raith's defence had a deeply uncomfortable first half, but the second half proved to be a nightmare for them. Harkins came on for McAlister after the third goal and Dundee settled down to torment the visitors with slick and attractive attacking that really should have brought more than one further goal.
The final goal came after good play by Stewart and MacDonald, whose shot bounced off a defender. BOYLE picked up the loose ball and fired past Cuthbert.
Tankulic replaced MacDonald for the last 20 minutes and Dundee continued to carve open the Raith defence at will. The game was now very open and there was the odd moment of slackness in the home defence. McPake played a poor crossfield pass that was intercepted by Stewart who ran clear to take the ball round Bain. He should have scored, but gave Davidson enough time to get back and clear from the goal line.
Most of the play, and all the good football, was at the other end, however. Stewart had dropped deeper, and he joined Harkins and McGowan in playing a stream of delightful passes around the Rovers' defence. Boyle and Tankulic had a few shots each, but Cuthbert was having a fine game in goal and managed to keep the Dee at bay. When he was beaten the woodwork came to Rovers' rescue when Tankulic blasted the ball against the crossbar from close range.
Dundee made Rovers look a pale shadow of the side that gave the Dark Blues five hard games last season. Tonight Dundee looked very much like a team from a higher division, and they put the hapless Rovers to the sword ruthlessly. There could have been a few more goals, but a four goal win over a Championship side is an excellent evening's work.
Paul Hartley clearly has plenty of options now, and it was good to see two players coming in to make their debuts and acquitting themselves well. Roberts was a handful for the Rovers' defence, and Bain looked safe and composed. Apart from the occasional sloppy moment in defence this was a very good team performance from back to front. Rovers might have played poorly, but the Dundee players deserve great credit for dominating the visitors so effectively.
Dundee FC 4-4-2
McGinn, McPake, Konrad (McGowan, half time), Irvine
Boyle, Davidson, McAlister (Harkins 66), Roberts
Stewart, MacDonald (Tankulic 70)
Unused subs: Letheren (gk), Carreiro, Kerr, Wighton
Goals: Stewart (2), McGinn (42), MacDonald (58), Boyle (69)
Booked: Davidson (foul on Nadé)
Raith Rovers 4-4-2
Thomson, Perry (Ellis 83), Watson, McKeown
Vaughan, Moon (Callachan 75), Scott, Conroy
Stewart, Nadé (Anderson 56)
Unused subs: Laidlaw (gk), Fox, Matthews, Bates
Booked: Moon (foul on MacDonald), Thomson (foul on Roberts)
Referee: Kevin Clancy
Report: James Christie