RYAN DOW joked that he felt like a “tin man” after Athletic threatened to smash Celtic’s domestic dominance in their own back yard.

The midfielder and his team-mates were just six minutes away from forcing a spot-kick showdown in their Betfred Cup last 16 clash on Saturday until Scotland star James Forrest’s deflected strike broke their brave resistance.

It was an unfortunate end to a fine showing by Stevie Crawford’s new-look side, although Dow laughed that he was looking to the bench for a rest as the Pars’ legs became more weary in the latter stages of extra-time.

But, having recovered from their exertions against the champions, Dow believes the steely nature of their performance will stand them in good stead for the league – starting with Saturday’s visit of his boyhood favourites, Dundee United.

“It was a hard one to take with five minutes to go before penalties but you could weigh it up with that, in the two games they’ve played in the league, I think they’ve scored 12 goals,” he explained.

“But we’ll take the positives of how well we did and how well organised we were as a team because we worked on it all week. It wasn’t just luck; we had a gameplan and it kinda’ worked out.

“I don’t think I’d have made penalties if I’m honest – I was like a tin man! I was alright in the 90 (minutes), and then the first 15 (of extra-time) I felt OK – it went in kinda quick.

“Then we started the second and, I don’t know if it was the minute or two stopping again, but my legs seized up. I don’t think I was the only one but there was only one sub left, and I think every boy was looking over there to see who was coming off because a few were struggling.

“Then, a couple of minutes later, the goal goes in. In extra-time, I did start thinking where am I going to put this penalty, but it was one of those things.

“All the boys had put in such a big effort and you saw that with the ground we’d covered when we came in on Monday.

“It showed on Saturday that we can do that nitty gritty, stick together and work hard.”

Dow continued: “We’ve been quite attacking and have been pressing teams, especially against Dundee, where we were right on the front foot, but we couldn’t do that against Celtic. We had a trigger of when we’re going to press and it shows a different side. It shows how flexible we can be.

“Straight away after the game, we said we need to take this into Saturday and kick-on. It’s another hard game and there’ll be another big crowd; I’m sure they’ll bring a big crowd down, and obviously our fans were unbelievable on Saturday.

“I think everyone saw the noise they made throughout, even when we went a goal down, and it just shows you how much it helps when you’re a goal down at a place like Parkhead when you’ve got them supporting you.”

Although he was once a season ticket-holder at Tannadice, and a former player, Dow reckons he might cop stick from the visiting support, and added: “It’s one of those ones you look for when the fixtures come out. It’s one I’m really looking forward to.

“I thought we completely dominated Dundee for the first half, and the penalty right on half-time changes it, but it shows that if we play our best, we can cause teams problems.”