Dundee recorded their sixth successive win and moved up to second in the table with a close but deserved 2-1 win over Queen of the South at Dens Park today. The Dee seemed to be cruising at half time. Jake Hyde and Nicky Riley had put Dundee two goals ahead of Queens, who were down to 10 men.
When the visitors pulled a quick goal back after half time and Nicky Riley was needlessly sent off the Dee's dominance was disrupted and the rest of the game was far more tense and anxious than the home fans had been expecting.
Dundee took charge from the start and play was soon flowing towards the visitors' goal. However, it was Queens who had the first serious shot. Kevin Smith worked his way in from the right and his 20 yard shot was parried away by Douglas.
Dundee went straight back up the park to take the lead. Riley set up Irvine to float a cross beyond the far post allowing Milne to control the ball and shoot. Jake HYDE poaching in the goalmouth got a touch to leave keeper Robinson helpless.
The Dee were full of confidence and were stretching the Queens' defence with good passing and movement.
Matt Lockwood ended a good move with a low shot from 20 yards that Robinson did well to turn round the post.
It was no surprise when Dundee extended their lead midway through the half.
Ryan Conroy's fine cross from the left eluded Milne, but RILEY charging in from the right took the ball on the volley. Robinson got a hand to the ball but couldn't keep it out. Nicky's celebration took him off the pitch and into the arms of fans in the Bobby Cox Stand. Referee Charlie Richmond pulled out the yellow card, a booking that would prove costly for Dundee.
Kevin Holt had already been booked for a wild tackle on Riley and within two minutes of the second goal he pulled the winger down as he raced past him. Mr Richmond brought out both cards, and Queens were down to 10 men.
It took a brilliant save by Robinson to prevent an own goal from McKenna who thrashed wildly at Conroy's dangerous cross after yet another good Dee move.
Queens managed to hang on until half time without suffering any further damage, but Dundee were in complete control.
Worryingly Stephen O'Donnell, who had been playing well in midfield, failed to reappear after half time. Kyle Benedictus came on to play right back and Gary Irvine moved into midfield.
Ten minutes into the second half the game turned upside down with two blows to the Dee in rapid succession.
Matt Lockwood fouled Carmichael near the corner flag. McLaughlin's free kick was perfect and HIGGINS was unmarked as he glanced a header past Douglas from close range.
We then had the incident that will have the fans talking all night in the pubs. Nicky Riley cut inside Alan Reid and went down. Mr Richmond decided it was a dive and pulled out another yellow to send Riley off and put him out of next week's crucial game against Ross County.
Queen of the South had looked forlorn and hopeless in the first half, but the quick goal and sending off gave them a huge lift. Up till then it had looked as if the afternoon would be a matter of damage limitation. They now believed they could save the game.
In turn Dundee were shaken and sat back for a while as Queens came out of their shell and looked for an equaliser.
The visitors were playing neat football as they approached the penalty area. Veteran former Scottish international Alan Johnston was conducting their play intelligently, but they lacked any serious goal threat and struggled to get through the Dundee defence.
As Queens chased the game Dundee started to look dangerous again. Callum Elliot came on for Jake Hyde and nearly scored a sensational third goal that would have killed the game.
He picked the ball up on the left, beat three men as he ran into the penalty area, but shot narrowly wide as the crowd were anticipating a brilliant solo goal.
Dundee were holding possession well and creating lots of space as they attacked but they couldn't find the goal they needed to ease the nerves of the fans, who were trying to roar them on to three points.
Queens at last got in a dangerous shot two minutes from the end when they broke away and Douglas pulled off a marvellous save to turn Smith's 20 yard pile-driver round the post. It would have been a highly controversial goal because Gary Irvine seemed to have been fouled as Dundee played the ball around the Queens' penalty area. Mr Richmond surprisingly didn't see it and the Dee were nearly caught out on the break.
Dundee should have sealed matters in injury time as Queens threw men forward with abandon. Gary Irvine mishit a pass that would have sent Callum Elliot clear, and Ryan Conroy hit a fierce shot just too high.
In injury time Queens' keeper Lee Robinson even charged forward with the ball into the Dundee half, but his loss of control showed why he's a goalkeeper. The visitors' desperate effort were to no avail. They lacked a cutting edge, and even when they got back into the game they were only able to force that one save from Douglas.
Dundee still carried far more threat, even without Riley, and thoroughly deserved the victory. They were overwhelmingly on top in the first half, and even when Queens were at their best it was still an even game.
The visitors deserve plenty of credit for the way they kept going when the match seemed far beyond them, and for the way they chased an equaliser that had looked utterly improbable before their goal and Riley's red card.
When Dundee were well on top today the team was humming along like a finely tuned engine. The midfield were excellent, and the strikers were linking up well with each other and the supporting players.
When Queens tried to exert pressure the Dundee defence looked solid, but they'll know that they conceded a disappointingly soft goal.
So it's on to Dingwall next week for the crucial match against runaway leaders Ross County. How important will Riley's suspension be? Will Stephen O'Donnell be available? These are the questions that will be troubling Dundee fans this evening.
Dundee FC 4-4-2
Irvine, McGregor, Weston, Lockwood
Riley, Rae, O'Donnell (Benedictus 46), Conroy
Hyde (Elliot 72), Milne (McCluskey 81)
Unused subs; Gibson (gk), McKeown
Goals; Hyde (7), Riley (24)
Bookings; Riley x 2 (celebrating goal, dive), Lockwood (foul on Carmichael)
Sent off; Riley
Queen of the South 3-1-5-1
Black (Brighton 85), Craig Reid, Higgins (Clark 77),
Carmichael, Johnston, Simmons (Alan Reid 28), McLaughlin, Holt
Unused subs; McKenzie (gk), McCusker
Goal; Higgins (54)
Bookings; Holt x 2 (2 fouls on Riley), Smith (foul on Conroy)
Sent off; Holt
Referee; Charlie Richmond
Report; James Christie