Dundee grabbed their crucial first league victory of the season with a 1-0 win at St Mirren Park. A tight and hard fought match could have gone either way, but the Dark Blues overcame injury problems to grind out the win. A superbly taken 79th minute goal from substitute Peter MacDonald sealed the points in front of more than a thousand travelling Dees.
Simon Ferry was listed on the team lines but he had been injured in training yesterday. The injury flared up during the warm up and Kevin McBride came in to take his place in midfield.
Willie Dyer was also missing. Gary Irvine came in to replace him at left back.
The match started at a frantic pace with early chances at either end. Dundee had two quick corners. Kello failed to collect the second and Tankulic's shot was blocked. Saints broke upfield and McLean found himself in space but shot well wide.
Play continued to race from end to end with the home side looking the more lively. Letheren had to dive full stretch to touch Naismith's 20 yard shot round the post. Drury then blazed a good chance over the bar after the Dark Blues had failed to deal with a long throw into the box.
Dundee settled down and started to play some good football. A fine move down the right ended with Tankulic switching play to Harkins, free on the left of the home penalty area. He checked inside to give himself a better angle but his shot was deflected wide.
Another neat passing move gave McAlister space to test Kello from the edge of the penalty area. Dundee were playing the better football but St Mirren's faster and more direct game was looking dangerous. The home side kept trying to catch out Dundee with quick passes in behind the full backs. Sometimes it looked a dangerous tactic, but often Saints were too rushed and lost the ball.
Kenny McLean was St Mirren's most impressive player and his skillful run along the byline created danger but Letheren saved well again.
The second half again brought early danger at either end. Naismith's hard low cross flew across the goalmouth with no takers. McAlister then headed over the bar from Irvine's cross.
Playing at right back Paul McGinn was often in direct opposition to his younger brother John. In one strange incident the Dundee full back was caught out of position when he was concerned at his wee brother injured on the ground as play raged on.
The Dark Blues weren't as fluent as they had been in the first half and were giving the ball away too much. The passing wasn't as sharp, but the defence looked solid and handled Saints' pressure well.
On one occasion midway through the half the Dark Blues' defence was opened up. The home side should have taken the lead when Drury blasted a great chance over the bar after a good build up by Thomson and McLean.
The Dundee midfield was disrupted when Kevin McBride limped off injured. Iain Davidson replaced him and played out an effective game in the middle of the park. Paul Hartley also sent on Peter MacDonald in place of Tankulic, and replaced Harkins with Martin Boyle. The Dee settled into a 4-4-2 formation for the last 20 minutes, with Wighton joining MacDonald up front.
MacDonald had an early chance after coming on. McGowan found him in space, but he was denied by a great save by Kello. The loose ball was scrambled clear just before McGowan could pounce.
When the second chance came Peaso's way he left Kello helpless. A Dundee attack seemed to be petering out when McAlister played the ball back into the Dee half. Konrad quickly switched it straight back down the field, catching out the home defence as they ran out. MACDONALD was onside and in the clear. He took a great first touch and ran on to shoot past Kello to the noisy delight of the exuberant Dees behind that goal.
St Mirren could have grabbed an instant equaliser when Dundee failed to clear a corner. The scramble ended with Boyle clearing off the line.
Dundee dealt well with some frantic late pressure from the Buddies, and it was the Dark Blues who had the best chance to score again. Great play by Wighton on the right ended with him cutting the ball back to Boyle, who scooped it wide.
There were three minutes of injury time and Dundee saw them out calmly and sensibly. The final whistle was greeted by a huge roar from the away fans, and an equally delighted cheer from the middle of the main stand where the Dee directors were sitting.
Dundee weren't at their best today. The passing and movement were impressive in spells during the first half, but in the second half it was a matter of digging in, working hard, concentrating and grabbing a chance when it came.
St Mirren will feel very disappointed they got nothing from the game, but they wasted two good chances then conceded a poorly defended goal. They played very well at times, however, and Dundee needed to put in a great team peformance to take the points.
After four games the Dark Blues are still undefeated and have conceded only two goals. They are clearly a hard team to beat and today's win will give the players justified confidence for the campaign ahead.
Dundee FC 4-2-3-1
McGinn, McPake, Konrad, Irvine
McBride (Davidson 64), McAlister
Wighton, Harkins (Boyle 71), McGowan
Tankulic (MacDonald 62)
Unused subs: Bain (gk), Stewart, Kerr
Goal: MacDonald (79)
Booked: Irvine (foul on McLean), McAlister (foul on Goodwin)
St Mirren 4-1-4-1
Naismith, McAusland, Plummer, Tesselaar
Drury (Wylde 69), McLean, MGinn, Marwood (Caldwell 58)
Ball (Thomson 62)
Unused subs: Ridgers (gk), Teale, Osbourne, Kelly
Booked: Plummer (foul on McGowan)
Referee: John Beaton
Attendance: 4,517 (1,011 Dees)
Report: James Christie