What can the Terrors of Kelty, Elgin, Arbroath and East Fife expect?

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Less than eight weeks after the end of last season, Dundee United are back in competition on Friday night.

The Tangerines will travel to the former club of new boss Thomas Courts, Kelty Hearts, to kick off their Premier Sports Cup campaign.

Their Group B schedule will also include a trip to another former Courts team, East Fife, but not before Elgin City and Arbroath come to Tannadice.

Progress towards the League Cup round of 16, something the Terrors haven’t achieved since 2017, will be expected as they prepare for the Premiership which begins on August 1.

But what can he expect from his lower league opponents?

Kelty Hearts (A) Friday July 9

League Two Kelty will ride the crest of a wave after being promoted to the league setup for the first time in its history.

The former junior team won the Lowland League last season and beat Brora Rangers and then Brechin to take their place in the fourth tier of the Scottish football pyramid.

Their ambitions do not end there. They hope to rise through the ranks of the FBCL under the leadership of rookie boss Kevin Thomson.

Kelty boss Kevin Thomson (middle) has some talent to call on. Pictured (L to R): Michael Tidser, Darren Jamieson, Thomson, Nathan Austin and Kallum Higginbotham.

With seasoned Premiership and Championship activists like former Rangers midfielder Jamie Barjonas and former Inverness hitman Nathan Austin in their ranks, they are not aggressors.

Wingers Joe Cardle and Kallum Higginbotham are expected to be their dangerous men as Thomson seeks a fluid style of play.

In pre-season, they’ve already raced Championship Partick Thistle and League One Montrose – narrowly losing 3-2 to the Jags and playing a 1-1 draw with The Gable Endies.

That Kelty offers tough opposition is one point the Terrors won’t lose after narrowly beating the Fifers 1-0 at the same stage of the competition last season.

Elgin City (H) Wednesday July 14

League 2 member Elgin had a good season last time around, finishing third but losing to Edinburgh City in the promotion play-off semifinals.

Borough Briggs’ outfit has a decent pedigree in its ranks – with a few players in particular United will have to be wary.

Gavin Price, one of the longest-serving managers in the SPFL, can boast of talent like goal machine Kane Hester, who topped the fourth-tier scorers chart last season with 15.

Elgin City boss Gavin Price.

City can also call on former Ross County midfielder Tony Dingwall and, interestingly, United youth captain and coach Euan Spark.

That said, in their only preseason friendly to date against league opposition, Moray’s side lost 5-0 to Premiership County.

Ultimately, the Tangerines should have enough to face Elgin in the same way they did their 4-0 group stage victory in 2018 – the only meeting between the two teams to date.

Arbroath (H) Saturday July 17th

Perhaps United’s toughest test in the group stage comes in Arbroath’s form.

Dick Campbell’s championship men have been a thorn in the Terrors’ side in recent years.

The Red Lichties have beaten United on penalties at this point in 2018 and the pair have had some close fixtures in the winning season of the 2019/20 Tangerines Championship.

There weren’t too many new faces on Gayfield with legendary boss Campbell, as always, likely to go with a tight squad as the only second tier part-time outfit.

Former Dundee man Nicky Low has made his loan transfer permanent from East Stirlingshire and is expected to be a key player.

Bobby Linn is an Arbroath legend.

While former Bo’ness Athletic man Dylan Paterson and former Edinburgh City men Liam Henderson and Calum Antell have also joined the club.

Bobby Linn is still their star man, but James Craigen, David Gold (also United Youth coach), Dale Hilson and Michael McKenna are helpful supporting actors.

With the experience of Ricky Little, Tam O’Brien and No.1 Derek Gaston at the back, Team Angus are a solid unit, used to playing with each other and won’t be easy to break.

However, given that they recently shipped four to Livingston as part of a friendly, it’s clear they can be achieved.

East Fife (A) Tuesday July 20

To round out the squad, United will head to Fife again, this time to New Bayview.

League One East Fife will be waiting in Methil for Darren Young’s side to get their campaign off to a good start.

The Fifers are hoping to build on their sixth place finish last season and attempt to repeat their shock 2-0 victory over United at the same stage of the competition in 2019.

Liam Watt scored East Fife’s second goal in a 2-0 win over Dundee United at the same stage of the competition in 2019.

The names Aaron Dunsmore and Liam Watt will still haunt a number of players who donned Tangerine that day and are likely to replay this time around.

While Dunsmore and Watt remain, Young has since added former Terror Danny Swanson and Arbroath ex-man Danny Denholm to his pool.

They are a practical team and United will need to be on guard.

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