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Derek McInnes’ Kilmarnock headed into the fifth round of the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup after a whirlwind start to a tie that gave Dundee the proverbial mountain to climb.

Within the opening three minutes of this game Killie were two goals to the good thanks to Kyle Vassell and Marley Watkins.

Dundee stuck to their task and will feel that they managed to take the wind out of Kilmarnock’s sails on an afternoon where the tie might have got completely away from them but, ultimately, they gave themselves far too much to do after a disastrous start.

Kilmarnock were forced to end Mark Birighitti’s football wilderness as he was signed from Dundee United on a seven-day emergency loan following a hip injury to number one, Will Dennis.

The 32-year-old has not played at all this season and hasn’t been in action since May last year. He took up his place on the bench with Kieran O’Hara handed his first league start of the campaign.

It was his opposite number, Adam Legzdins, however, who found himself under the spotlight just 18 seconds into this game. He too has not played this season other than a League Cup tie back in July. His afternoon started poorly and went downhill from there.

As the keeper dithered at what looked like a routine ball in behind, Vassell nicked in with a striker’s instinct to steal the ball and poke it beyond his reach.

It got better again for the Rugby Park side who doubled their lead less than two minutes later. It was Watkins this time who claimed the credits with a header from Danny Armstrong’s whipped in free-kick.

Shellshocked, Dundee tried to catch their breath. Luke McCowan thought he had pulled one back for the Dens Park side with a fine strike from the edge of the box but his effort was ruled offside, much to the inevitable joy of the home support.

It was to Dundee’s credit that they tried to get themselves onto firm ground after the whirlwind start. Killie defender Stuart Findlay breathed a sigh of relief after he sliced wildly at a McCowan cross and watched as it looped over O’Hara’s crossbar.

Eight minutes before the break Dundee took off a dazed Legzdins with Harry Sharp taking over.

Dundee tried to force their way back into the tie in the second period with the introduction of Curtis Main but Kilmarnock had chances to put the game to bed.

Vassell was put through by Watkins but his first touch was heavy, allowing Sharp to block with his feet.

In the end, Killie didn’t it as they progressed at Dundee’s expense.

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