Dundee's kept their slender hopes of dodging the drop alive for at least another week after an entertaining and well deserved win in Paisley this afternoon. The Dee beat St Mirren 2-1 with goals from Jim McAlister and Carl Finnigan in each half, either side of a Steven Thompson equaliser.
The Dark Blues took charge when St Mirren captain Jim Goodwin was red carded midway through the second half and were determined to head for home with all three points. It was no surprise when Finnigan headed the winner with nine minutes left and Dundee saw out the match comfortably on top.
St Mirren were the better team in the early stages, but although they were trying to play a high tempo game they were too casual to create clear chances. The final balls were never sufficiently accurate or well judged to open up the Dundee defence.
St Mirren's central defence wasn't looking comfortable in the swirling wind and they were lucky to escape when Toshney's cross from the right caused chaos in the home goalmouth. McAusland couldn't clear the first ball, then Samson failed to stop Baird turning the ball back into the danger area where McAlister's shot was blocked. When the ball was half cleared it found only Kevin McBride, whose precise dipping shot from the edge of the penalty area rattled the cross bar. Dummett managed to beat Harkins to the loose ball to force the ball out for a corner.
Jim Goodwin in particular was looking uncomfortable playing in central defence, and frequently had to resort to manhandling John Baird in order to keep the striker under control. He eventually got a yellow card for scything down Jim McAlister with a late challenge.
The Buddies' central defenders were caught out again when the Dee took the lead six minutes before half time. McAusland made a hash of Toshney's ball down the right. Baird pulled the loose balll down and found McALISTER who turned and shot past Samson from 12 yards.
St Mirren looked rattled as their early dominance had slipped away and they struggled to get back into the game. Just before half time Thompson screwed a shot wide from the edge of the area after the Dundee defence failed to handle the wind.
The veteran St Mirren striker is playing as well as he has done at any point in his career; he was the man who pulled the home side back into the match early in the second half. It was a terrible goal for the Dundee defence to conceded, however, as THOMPSON was able to head home at the far post from a Teale corner.
It was a desperately disappointing goal to concede when Dundee were looking fully capable of pushing on to take control. However, Dundee responded marvelously and kept their composure as they went chasing a winner.
The match turned completely Dundee's way in a sixty second spell in the middle of the half. First, Steve Simonsen pulled off a stunning save from McGinn's close range header after a good cross from Carey on the left.
Jim Goodwin had already pushed referee Craig Thomson's patience to the limit with a fouls on Baird and Finnigan. When he chopped Finnigan down from behind just after Simonsen's save the red card was probably the easiest decision the referee had to make all afternoon.
The St Mirren fans in the Main Stand behind us were screaming furiously, but at the home dugout rather than the officials. Goodwin's red card was a clear and obvious danger and the supporters were furious that Goodwin hadn't been replaced by Lee Mair. The ex-Dundee defender was immediately sent on and promptly added much needed composure to the Buddies' defence.
The extra man allowed Dundee to take over and John Brown made it clear that the Dark Blues were never going to settle for just one point. Cark Finnigan had already replaced John Baird, but now Nicky Riley and Ryan Conroy were thrown on in place of Lockwood and Davidson. At times Dundee's formation looked like 2-5-3, as the wing backs pushed forward aggressively while Harkins and Riley took every opportunity to support Finnigan.
Gary Teale eased the pressure on St Mirren with a great run from his own half, but Jim McAlister tracked back to rob him just outside the Dundee penalty area and the Dee were straight back onto the attack. A good move the length of the field ended with Harkins teeing up Easton, whose shot from 15 yards smacked off the post and back into play.
The tension was mounting as Dundee kept up the pressure and they had to wait only another couple of minutes for the winner. Harkins took the ball on the left from Easton, jinked one way then the other before dinking a delightful cross into the goalmouth with the outside of his right foot. FINNIGAN launched himself at the ball and his diving header pinged off the underside of the crossbar bouncing down and spinning back out. Had it crossed the line? Yes, according to all the Dees behind the goal and, most importantly, the assistant referee who immediately signaled the goal and raced back up the touchline.
Carl Finnigan celebrated with an ecstatic dash to the Dundee bench where he got a well deserved embrace.
St Mirren with a man down simply couldn't get any impetus for a late charge as Dundee defended their lead by pressing far up the park and keeping the Buddies defence under constant pressure as time ran out.
Steve Simonsen had little to do after his wonderful save from McGinn and his late involvement was restricted to collecting the odd through ball and dealing with occasional backpasses.
Dundee didn't manage to grab the third goal that they threatened, and would have deserved, and the final whistle was greeted with a delighted roar from the away stand. The whole squad went over to take the applause from the fans, who quite rightly believed that the players made a real statement today. This Dundee team isn't going to go down tamely. As John Brown said after the match, these players will keep fighting to the final whistle.
This was another great team performance. Everyone played well. Everyone did their job. Everyone gave their all to make sure that the Dee live on in the SPL - for one more week at least.
St Mirren 4-4-2
Van Zanten, McAusland, Goodwin, Dummett
Teale, Newton. McGowan (McGinn 23), McLean (Carey 57)
Thompson, Guy (Mair 68)
Unused subs; Adam (gk), Parkin, Carey, Mair, Puri, Imrie
Goal; Thompson (51)
Bookings; Goodwin (fouls on McAlister and Finnigan)
Sent off; Goodwin
Dundee FC 3-5-1-1
Benedictus, Lockwood (Riley 68), Gallagher
Toshney, McBride, Davidson (Conroy 71), McAlister, Easton
Baird (Finnigan 58)
Unused subs; Alex Baird (gk), Irvine, Kerr, Barrowman
Goal; McAlister (39), Finnigan (81)
Bookings; Bendictus (foul on Newton)
Attendance; 4,002 (436 Dees)
Referee; Craig Thomson
Report; James Christie