The long awaited return of SPL football to Dens Park ended in disappointment for Dundee as they lost 2-0 to St Mirren. There may have been little between the sides outside the penalty areas, but the visitors took their chances with a superb long range shot by McLean and a calm, close range finish from Parkin.
Dundee wasted a series of good chances and found Craig Samson in good form when they did get the ball on target. That's a lesson Dundee will have to take on board, and quickly, as they adjust to life in the SPL. Total concentration will be required at all times, and poor finishing will be punished.
Barry Smith made two changes to the starting line-up. Neil McGregor and Kevin McBride joined the injured list and were replaced by David Grassi, making his debut, and Stephen O'Donnell returning from injury.
The first half was poor with neither side able to work the ball into the box and create chances. The Dundee defence looked slightly nervous early on and Douglas was called upon to deal with a succession of crosses, which he deal with impeccably.
The half boiled down to a tale of two cracking long range shots - Saints' effort went in, and Dundee's smashed off the post. After 38 minutes without a sniff of a chance St Mirren took the lead with a goal of far higher quality than the game had seemed likely to provide.
A mix up between Grassi and Douglas had drastic consequences for the Dee. The new boy seemed unsure whether the advancing Douglas was going to take the ball and had to clear it hurriedly under pressure from Thompson. MCLEAN picked up the ball and flighted a beautiful shot over Douglas from 40 yards, with the keeper possibly still out of position.
Dundee might have grabbed an equaliser just before half time. Ryan Conroy tried his luck from 25 yards but his rising shot flew past Samson and smacked back off the post.
Former Dundee keeper Craig Samson had a quiet first half, but was soon called into action after the restart. Douglas cleared a long ball through the middle that caught the visitors' central defence out. Jamie McAlister nicked the ball round the last defender, but Samson was off his line quickly to make a great save.
Dundee then had a string of corners, one of which found the visitors' defence sleeping. Iain Davidson was in an astonishing amount of space 12 yards out and had time to control the ball but he shot wastefully over the bar.
St Mirren centre forward Stephen Thompson was attracting some critical attention from the home support who remembered his days at Dundee United. He was fortunate to stay on the park after being booked for a thumping challenge on Iain Davidson, then minutes later catching Kyle Benedictus in the head with a very high boot. He was clearly given a final warning by the referee and St Mirren manager Danny Lennon wisely hooked him to stop the Buddies going down to 10 men.
The big turning point of the match came just after the hour. Ryan Conroy sent Mark Stewart clear into the penalty area, and as he was about to shoot he was brought down from behind by McGregor and the ball trickled through to Samson. Did the St Mirren player get the man or the ball? It was a tough call, but Mr Allan gave the decision St Mirren's way.
St Mirren went up the park to take full advantage of their let off with a classic sucker punch while Dundee had switched off and were thinking of what might have been. Imrie's cross from the left found PARKIN with space in the penalty area. He had too much time to bring the ball down and pass it across Douglas and into the net.
The Dee should have pulled a goal back quickly from a good move down the right by Baird and McAlister, whose fine cross to the far post found the unmarked Mark Stewart. Sadly he headed carelessly over when he should have buried the chance.
Dundee didn't give up and kept pressing. Conroy set up Baird to shoot from 18 yards, but his curling effort was well saved by Samson at full stretch. Davidson nodded the ball into the empty net, but the flag was up for offside.
Most of the play was in the St Mirren half as the visitors concentrated on protecting their lead. They didn't have any more real chances, though Grassi had to block a McGowan drive after a stramash in the penalty area when a cross wasn't cleared.
Dundee threw on Leighton McIntosh and Graham Webster in place of Stewart and O'Donnell, but St Mirren were able to see out the game fairly comfortably. Dundee should still have pulled a goal back right on the final whistle, but yet again they blew a great chance. Leighton McIntosh was coming back from an offside position when Iain Davidson's powerful return header from a clearance sent the ball flying back into the penalty area. The defence were looking at McIntosh who left the ball alone, knowing he was offside, allowing John Baird to run through from an onside position and lift the ball over the stranded Samson. The ball drifted the wrong side of the bar, and that summed up Dundee's day.
The Dee had plenty of chances to win this game, far more than in either the game against Peterhead or St Mirren. It was encouraging that Dundee kept playing football and creating chances, without being anywhere near their best.
This is obviously going to be a hard season and there will be many games when Dundee will have fewer chances than they created today. They simply must take the sort of great chances that they created today. We are no longer in a division where we can get away with carelessness at either end of the pitch. This game hung on a few moments at either end, and St Mirren showed their SPL experience in ensuring they came out on top. Dundee will have to learn quickly.
Dundee FC 4-4-2
Irvine, Benedictus, Grassi, Lockwood
McAlister, Davidson, O'Donnell (Webster 78), Conroy
John Baird, Stewart (McIntosh 75)
Unused subs; Alex Baird (gk), Milne, Gallagher, Reid
St Mirren FC 4-4-2
Van Zanten, Mair, McGregor, Carey
Robertson (Teale 90+2), McLean, McGowan, Imrie (McAusland 80)
Parkin, Thompson (Reilly 58)
Unused subs; Chris Smith (gk), Barron, McGinn, Jack Smith
Goals; McLean (38), Parkin (62)
Bookings; Van Zanten (foul on Conroy), Thompson (foul on Davidson)
Referee; Crawford Allan
Report; James Christie