CSABA LASZLO, the Dundee United manager, was having none of it as he publicly slammed diving winger Paul McMullan for his stupidity after watching his ten-man side reinvigorate their push for promotion.

United began 2018 in style as they moved to within three points of leaders St Mirren with a game in hand thanks to a comprehensive victory over bottom club Brechin which coincided with Jack Ross’s side dropping points against Morton. However, McMullan’s cheap 57th-minute dismissal for going to ground too easily left Laszlo far from impressed.

Scott McDonald sparked things with an opener inside the first minute, before Sam Stanton struck six minutes later. McDonald made sure of the points with his second goal within minutes of the restart before James Keatings added a penalty. Darren Dods’ lowly visitors did pull one back through Jordan Sinclair’s 65th-minute penalty and Laszlo insisted McMullan could have left his team-mates in serious bother on another day.

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The Hungarian, who had watched McMullan pick up a 10th-minute caution for a foul on Euan Spark, said: “It’s a huge mistake from Paul. He’s an experienced player who knows he’s already been booked.

“And even if you have lost the ball, you don’t try to dive because diving at the moment is one of the most heaviest and easiest punishments .

“History has repeated itself. This is the second time he’s picked up a booking for diving this season. This is not okay. I have spoken to the player and I’m not closing my eyes to this. This definitely brings trouble for yourself and your team-mates. 

“If you do this at 1-0 it can be at very different story. We’re not talking about a child, but a player with experience. This wasn’t spectacular overall but we did what we had to do as a team.” United were bidding to bounce back from their 2-0 defeat at St Mirren on Friday and left their part-time opponents reeling within 43 seconds.

Billy King released Jamie Robson whose cut-back was inch-perfect for McDonald who unleashed a left-foot shot from 14 yards beyond Brechin keeper Graeme Smith.

The hosts increased their lead when Keatings delivered a clever corner short for Stanton who made it 2-0 with a brisk left-foot shot which caught the entire Brechin defence by surprise.

Laszlo’s men went for the jugular after the break and killed the contest. Keatings linked with McMullan whose pass found substitute Cammy 
Ballantyne and his cross was swept into the net by McDonald in 49 minutes.

There was no stopping the hosts who went further ahead in 52 minutes when Keatings made it 4-0 with from the spot after Smith had raced off his line to bring down McDonald. McMullan was ordered off for his second booking just before the hour having dived as he raced towards the penalty area.

Brechin made the extra man count in 65 minutes when Tam Scobbie pulled down Sinclair at a corner, and he stepped up to to make it 4-1 with a blistering spot kick.

Dods said: “The start killed us. All credit to the players for not throwing the towel in because it’s hard for part-time clubs at this time of the year.”