Challenge Cup joy can kick-start Dundee United’s promotion push

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They’ve endured a difficult 2017 up to now, but Ray McKinnon’s Dundee United did the business on the big stage last weekend, lifting the Challenge Cup following a 2-1 final victory over in-form St Mirren.

And that could be the tonic United need to re-energise their promotion push in the Ladbrokes Championship.

Despite their less-than-stellar run of results, there’s little doubt the Tannadice outfit will still make the cut in the promotion play-offs. With a six point gap and games in hand on nearest challengers Queen of the South, they head to Palmerston Park next weekend having already won there twice this season (4-1 and 3-2, respectively).

That means they’re very unlikely to let their top-four spot slip, and the signs suggest they’ll be well prepared for the promotion play-offs themselves.

While competitors Falkirk and Greenock Morton both boast very young squads – which bodes well for those clubs’ futures – McKinnon’s side have plenty of experience, a factor which will likely prove crucial in those all-or-nothing play-off ties.

That’s especially true in defence. Paul Dixon and Sean Dillon each have well over 250 games in the Ladbrokes SPFL under their belt, while both Frank van der Struijk and Nick van der Velden helped Willem II successfully navigate the Eredivisie play-offs last season.

A bit of individual magic is also needed in the play-offs, and United can always count on Tony Andreu for some of that. Since arriving on loan in September, the French ace has netted 16 times in all competitions, and chalked up multiple assists. A superb distributor of the ball, he’s also well-capable of a stunning finish.

And McKinnon’s side can also take heart from the feats of Rangers last season. The Gers won the Challenge Cup along with promotion to the Ladbrokes Premiership, and we reckon the same feat could be on the cards at Tannadice.

Next up is the visit of Ayr United on Tuesday night, with 10/21 for the Tangerines to enjoy victory on home turf.

Meanwhile, there’s 3/1 on offer for United to win promotion this season, while 33/1 says they sensationally defy the odds to lift the league title.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Dave Burin

Dave graduated with an MA in English Literature at Durham University, and worked in marketing before joining the Ladbrokes News team. A Man United fan and avid groundhopper, he’s also an ardent follower of Rugby League. You can usually find him at a ground near you, clutching a big cup of tea.