Dundee's good run continued as they came from behind to beat St Mirren 2-1 in Paisley this afternoon. Kenny McLean gave the Buddies a deserved first half lead only for the Dark Blues to come back strongly after the break. Goals from deadly poacher Gary Irvine and Iain Davidson put the Dee ahead and they seldom looked in trouble as they saw out the win confidently.
Dundee made two changes with Kevin Thomson and Kosta Gadzhalov replacing Alex Harris and Luka Tankulic. The changes meant that the Dark Blues adopted a more cautious formation without obvious wide players and Greg Stewart playing as the lone striker.
Scott Bain had to be at his best to stop the Dee falling behind in the first few minutes as the home side got off to a flying start. First he pulled off a great low save to push Arquin's header from a free kick round the post. Next he saved with his feet from the unmarked Arquin after Mallan's quick pass had caught out the Dundee defence.
The Dark Blues had to play for 10 minutes with 10 men while Harkins'cut head was bandaged. Dundee steadied themselves during this spell and on Harkins' return started to take the game to their hosts. However, the Dee didn't look entirely comfortable with the narrow midfield and couldn't keep possession comfortably against the Buddies' eager pressing.
Greg Stewart was making some good runs, but poor touches and passes behind him meant the Dee weren't able to take advantage. James McPake had a free header from a corner, but couldn't get enough power to trouble Ridgers in the home goal. The Dark Blues were struggling to create chances from open play before they fell behind six minutes from the break.
Kenny McLEAN was the Buddies' outstanding player and it was no great surprise when he opened the scoring. Picking up the ball in midfield he ran on to whip a great low shot inside Bain's left hand post from 22 yards.
The Dark Blues fought back hard to get an equaliser before the break. Ridgers saved superbly from Harkins 20 yard shot that was on target for the top corner. Jason Naismith lost the ball on the wing and Stewart raced away and forced Ridgers to save with his feet at the near post.
However, the Dark Blues needed to step up their game after the break, and to the delight of the healthy travelling support they did exactly that. There was an early scare for the Dee when McPake had to hack the ball over his own bar to clear a dangerous cross, but after that Dundee went hunting an equaliser.
Dundee's first goal arrived after 52 minutes. McGowan's clever pass freed Stewart. With everyone expecting the Dee's top scorer to shoot he cleverly pulled the ball back to give Gary IRVINE a tap in. It was the full back's fourth goal in seven games, and he showed great striker's instincts to be in the right place at the right time!
Dundee were much more solid and composed in defence and the midfield was clicking. It might not have been pretty or stylish, but the Dark Blues were now a much more confident and effective outfit. Greg Stewart was having a tremendous game and with Alex Harris on for Harkins the Dee looked more likely to grab a winning goal than the nervous and hurried Buddies.
Midway through the half Stewart won a free kick deep in the St Mirren half. He took it himself and the ball was cleared back to him. He shimmied his way across the face of the penalty area then slipped the ball through for Iain DAVIDSON to score from 15 yards, with the aid of a deflection that sent the ball into Ridger's top corner.
St Mirren couldn't repeat the more composed game they were playing in the first half, and lost possession too quickly as they came forward. They had only one chance after Dundee took the lead, and it was a bad miss by John McGinn who should have done better than head Osbourne's cross high over the bar after 74 minutes.
After that the Dark Blues coped well with St Mirren's attacks and looked more likely to extend their lead than concede an equaliser. The Buddies' hopes took a huge blow when Yoann Arquin picked up a second yellow card. He'd been booked for fouling Davidson, and when he went down under a challenge by McPake in the penalty area Mr McLean pulled out his car again to book him for simulation and leave St Mirren with only 10 men for the last 11 minutes.
Dundee withdrew Gadzhalov and sent on Tankulic, a change that caused St Mirren huge problems. Davidson dropped back into defence, and the extra man in the Dee's attack pulled St Mirren out of shape and disrupted their game even further. There was concern in injury time when Iain Davidson was injured, picking up a gash and twist to his ankle. He was stretchered off and Thomas Konrad came on. In spite of the enforced change the defence continued to look secure.
Dundee ensured there was no late Buddies' charge in the six minutes of injury time and kept probing for a third goal. Stewart blasted a Tankulic cross over the bar, and then Tankulic tried a snap-shot from 25 yards that flew too high.
This wasn't a classy footballing performance, but it was a great win that depended on graft and character after a poor first half. The players' attitude was crucial today. There was an impressive determination to dig out a win that puts a big gulf between the Dee and the relegation scrap, while closing the gap on the top six. Today was the first time since September 2013, in the Championship against Morton, that the Dee have come from behind to win. It wasn't pretty, but the cheering and applause from the away stand at the end showed how much it was appreciated by the support.
St Mirren 4-4-1-1
Naismith, McAusland, Goodwin, Tesselaar (Ball 89)
McLear (Osbourne 59), McGinn, Mallan, Kelly (Wylde 59)
Unused subs: Kello (gk), Reilly, Morgan, Baird
Goal: McLean (39)
Booked: Naismith (foul on Thomson), Arquin (twice for foul on Davidson and simulation)
Sent off: Arquin
Dundee FC 4-3-2-1
Irvine, McPake, Gadzhalov (Tankulic 84), Dyer
Thomson, Davidson (Konrad 91)
McGowan, Harkins (Harris 64), McAlister
Unused subs: Letheren (gk), Ferry, Clarkson, Wighton
Goals: Irvine (52), Davidson (68)
Booked: Stewart (foul on McAusland), Bain (time-wasting)
Referee: Steven McLean
Attendance: 4,010 (726 Dees)
Report: James Christie