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  1. McDiarmid manager Tommy Wright had demanded a fast start from his team after three successive home defeats and he certainly received the correct response from his players. Saints were missing injured skipper Steven Anderson who was replaced by Tam Scobbie with Graham Cummins recalled up front. Dundee were without centre-half Julen Etxabeguren who underwent Achilles surgery on Thursday with Kosta Gadzhalov taking his place in defence. The home side passed up a great opportunity to open the scoring in just the fifth minute when Steven MacLean crossed from the right to strike partner Cummins standing unmarked six yards from the Dundee goal but his downward header lacked power and was easily gathered by Dark Blues keeper Scott Bain. However, the goalie was helpless to prevent Saints taking the lead seven minutes later. Joe Shaughnessy hit a great pass from the back all the way to Cummins on the left who played the ball into the danger area for Paul Paton to head home past a helpless Bain from 10 yards. It was a dream start for the home side and it became even better in the 19th minute when MacLean laid the ball off to Blair Alston loitering on the edge of the Dundee box and he rifled the ball low to Bain’s left and into the back of the net. St Johnstone had another two opportunities just before the break with Bain tipping over a MacLean shot and then Richard Foster going close with an 18-yard drive. Saints were well worth their lead at the break while Dundee had barely threatened with Zander Clark in the home goal not having to make a save. Just four minutes after the restart, the goalie finally had to look lively to parry a fierce angled drive from James Vincent. Paton was in the mood after his rare goal and he tried his luck again from long-range but his shot flew just wide of Bain’s left-hand post. Dundee toiled away trying to get back into the game but Saints easily soaked up their attempted attacks and continued to look dangerous themselves. The Dark Blues had a half chance in the 83rd minute when Danny Williams hit a free-kick from the left to fellow sub Faissal El Bakhtaoui but his fierce shot was blocked. However, it was St Johnstone celebrating as the final whistle was blown.
  2. On that occasion, the Dark Blues dished out a Hogmanay hiding to the Perth side winning 3-0 at Dens thanks to strikes from Faissal El Bakhtaoui, Kosta Gadzhalov and a Steven Anderson own goal. Now the two teams will meet once more on St Johnstone’s home turf and Hartley is under no illusions that his side will have to be at their best again if they hope to win the Tayside derby bragging rights as well as maintain their top six challenge. The manager said: “We were excellent that day (Hogmanay). “So we are expecting a tough game against a very well organised St Johnstone team. “They have always been a top six team so when we go to McDiarmid, we know what to expect. “We know the style they will play and we expect another hard game. “It is a local derby and hopefully we will take a large travelling support. “It is a big game for us and I am sure they will be saying the same. “But we were excellent the last game we played here against them and hopefully we can repeat that sort of performance although we know Saints will be up for it.” Dundee will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing defeat against Partick Thistle at home two Wednesdays ago with Hartley hoping the break last weekend will have done his players a power of good. He said: “We weren’t too bad against Partick. The quality on the ball maybe wasn’t there but they worked hard and the attitude was right. “They pressed the game in the second half. “We have had a little break so hopefully the players are raring to go again.” As expected, Julen Etxabeguren who was stretchered off against the Jags had an operation on his Achilles yesterday morning and is facing several months on the sidelines. However, Hartley does have options waiting in the wings to take his place in the side in the shape of Kosta Gadzhalov and Kevin Gomis. He said: “It is a shame for Julen as he had been playing well. “I have another couple of centre-halves so we are well covered in that area. “I think the back four has been working pretty well so we are happy with that just now. “We will look at it but I think we will stay with a back four.” Meanwhile, Marc Klok is set to return to the squad for the St Johnstone game. The Dutchman who was signed at the end of the January transfer window has featured twice for the first team but in recent weeks has been turning out for the club’s development side. Hartley added: “Marc will be in the squad for Saturday. “We have just been using him in Under-20s matches as he has not played a lot of football recently. “But he has had some game time and will be in the squad for St Johnstone.”
  3. With just six matches remaining before the two halves of the division go their separate ways, the Dark Blues now trail Partick by two points, thanks to the 1-0 defeat to the Jags on Wednesday night. Looking ahead to those six matches, it promises to be a tough test of Dundee’s ability to rediscover the superb form they showed against Rangers and Motherwell only last week. The Dark Blues take on four of the top five as well as a trip to the Highlands before finishing with a winnable home tie against Hamilton. The Tele looks at where points might be picked up and what threats Dundee face. Saturday March 11 – St Johnstone v Dundee Paul Hartley’s men enjoyed one of their best displays of the season the last time the two sides met. A 3-0 defeat of the Perth Saints on Hogmanay had the Dark Blues heading into the New Year on a high. However, they were beaten on their last visit to McDiarmid Park and have won there only once since 2002. Verdict: Tough but not impossible. Points: 1 Sunday March 19 – Dundee v Celtic Will anyone beat the champions-elect? They’ve only dropped two points in the Premiership all season and are miles ahead of anyone else. Dundee, though, have performed well against the Hoops, losing 1-0 in a tight game at Dens earlier in the season and almost upsetting them at Celtic Park in a 2-1 defeat where they might have snatched a late draw. Verdict: Write-off. Points: 0. Friday March 31 – Dundee v Aberdeen A tough couple of fixtures sees the Dark Blues face the top two one after the other. The Dons are looking good for second spot and Derek McInnes has built up a strong outfit. Both times this season they’ve deservedly beaten Dundee, 3-0 at Pittodrie and 3-1 at Dens. Under the Friday night lights, with a good crowd behind them, though, the Dark Blues will back themselves. Verdict: Exciting match. Points: 0. Tuesday April 4 – Ross County v Dundee The Dark Blues did enjoy their last visit to Dingwall, putting on a superb showing to win 3-1 courtesy of a Rory Loy double. The Staggies are always a threat and, despite struggling a bit this season, will be a real test away in midweek. Dundee have not played well on the road since that early season win, too. Verdict: Difficult. Points: 1. Saturday April 8 - Hearts v Dundee The Jambos might be on a poor run at the moment but, by the time this game comes around, you’d expect them to have turned some sort of corner. Tynecastle is always a tough place to go to with only one win for the Dark Blues there in the last eight and two draws. Verdict: Difficult to say with the Jambos current form. Points: 1. Saturday April 15 – Dundee v Hamilton What might be the game that sees the Dark Blues creep back into the top six and, if you have ambitions of a top-half finish, Accies at home is a must-win game. However, don’t forget it was a defeat at Hamilton last season that saw Dundee miss a finish in the top section. Verdict: They’ll be scrapping for points but you’ve got to fancy Dundee. Points: 3.
  4. The 3-0 victory over Saints at Dens Park sent the Dark Blues into the three-week winter break on a high and Julen, who played a key role in keeping the clean sheet alongside Kosta Gadzhalov, says that is exactly what they were after going into the match. He said: “It was an important game for us, we had to get a result. “We wanted to go into the break with a good feeling and have a gap between us and the bottom teams. “I think we needed the three points, it was really important for us. “It’s such a competitive league and all the teams are even — every team can beat every team. “When you win, it’s really important and the points can open up a gap which is also important.” That gap to the teams at the bottom is five points to Hamilton in 11th and six to the side currently rooted to the foot of the table, Inverness. And ahead of the league action restarting at the end of the month against Aberdeen, Etxabeguren says the breathing space given to the Dark Blues by that win and their recent good home form means they can start looking up rather than below in the second half of the season. He added: “I think we can still get there (the top six), to be honest. “The last two months we have been playing well and getting good results. “Some results have been better than other games but that’s part of football. “I think we are heading in the right direction. We got the result against St Johnstone which meant we can enjoy the break with good feelings. “It’s a crazy league this season. Before the last game there was just four points difference between the bottom of the league and the top six teams. I think it’s going to be like this for the whole season. “If we are able to open up a gap between ourselves and the bottom teams I think we can start looking forward.” Former Real Sociedad youth Julen has been at Dundee now for 18 months after signing from East Fife following a break from the professional game to study. Now, though, he’s delighted to be part of things at Dens Park. He said: “When I wasn’t playing full-time football, I was missing it. “When I was in Spain, I was training every day and you miss it but I can’t complain now. I’m back to full-time football and I’m very happy.” n Dundee Development left-back Conor Quigley has joined Stirling Albion on loan until the end of the season.
  5. When the Dark Blues lost 2-0 at home to Partick Thistle at the end of October, it left the club three points adrift at the foot of the Premiership table with only six points from 11 games. That fact, combined with their abject performance that evening against the Jags, had many fans, and pundits alike, suggesting Paul Hartley’s men were bankers for the drop. However, the team galvanised themselves and produced a run over the next 10 games which yielded five wins, four losses (two of which were against Celtic and Rangers) and one draw. The 16 points collected now sees the Dens men sitting in eighth spot but, more importantly, with a five and six-point cushion respectively over bottom pair Hamilton and Inverness Caley. Tele Sport looks at the run which has put the smiles back on the faces of the Dens Park faithful. Saturday, October 29 HAMILTON 0 DUNDEE 1 A Paul McGowan goal after 61 minutes won a scrappy affair as the Dee dug in for a vital win. Although they remained at the bottom, the gap to Accies had been cut to just two points with Ross County splitting the pair. Saturday, November 5 DUNDEE 2 MOTHERWELL 0 The Dee’s first home league win of the campaign and it came in impressive fashion as goals by Cammy Kerr and Marcus Haber saw off the Steelmen. The win saw Dundee leapfrog County at the bottom. Saturday, November 19 RANGERS 1 DUNDEE 0. A last-gasp Harry Forrester goal denied the Dark Blues a share of the spoils and also sent them back to the foot of the table, level on points with Hamilton, who’d played two games less. Saturday, November 26 DUNDEE 2 INVERNESS CALEY 1 Goals by Kosta Gadzhalov and Craig Wighton ensured back-to-back home wins for the Dee. Incredibly, in a jam-packed relegation zone, Hartley’s men jumped to seventh, with Partick dropping to the foot, albeit only two points behind. Saturday, December 3 KILMARNOCK 2 DUNDEE 0 A below-par performance got what it deserved as Dundee returned home pointless from Rugby Park. Saturday, December 10 DUNDEE 0 ROSS COUNTY 0 The Dark Blues were made to work hard for their point, although it could have been three had Marcus Haber converted when right through on goal. Saturday, December 17 CELTIC 2 DUNDEE 1 Haber made up for his miss the previous week as a plucky performance came up just short against the champions at Parkhead. Faissal El Bakhtaoui missed a great chance to grab a point when he blazed over late on. Friday, December 23 DUNDEE 3 HEARTS 2 Haber caps a brilliant fightback as his stoppage-time winner sinks the Jambos, who led 2-0 at the hour mark. Darren O’Dea and McGowan were also on target as Dundee climb up to seventh on 19 points from as many games. Wednesday, December 28 PARTICK 2 DUNDEE 0. A flat performance sees the Jags claim victory at Firhill. Saturday, December 31 DUNDEE 3 ST JOHNSTONE 0 Best show of the season for the Dee as goals by El Bakhtaoui, Gadzhalov and Steven Anderson (og) sink a powerful Saints outfit. The win also sees Dundee put a six-point gap between themselves and Caley Thistle at the bottom.
  6. That’s the view of manager Paul Hartley after he saw his side romp to an emphatic victory in the Tayside derby at the weekend. The French-Moroccan grabbed the first goal at Dens Park — just his second since joining the club from Dunfermline in the summer — in an all-round excellent display. Hartley said: “I was pleased for El Bakhtaoui. “I don’t think it’s been easy for him coming from Dunfermline and having expectation on his shoulders. “He scored a lot of goals there but he’s had to jump up two leagues. “We knew it would always take time for him, we had to be patient but we worked away with him last week, gave him some confidence so I’m really pleased for him.” The striker scored 30 goals in 41 appearances for the Pars last season — including a spell of 12 goals in the opening eight games of the campaign. The three-week winter interval may not have come at the right time for El Bakhtaoui but the Dundee faithful will be hoping a break and some more work behind the scenes brings out goals and displays like the one against Saints. Also getting on the scoresheet was centre-back Kosta Gadzhalov, smashing in a fierce volley. The Bulgarian has been a bit-part player for much of his Dens career but impressed alongside Julen Etxabeguren with skipper Darren O’Dea out due to illness. Hartley added: “He’s hit it cleanly, he’s got that in him, he’s got a couple of goals this season. “He’s timed it and struck it really well.”
  7. The Hogmanay Tayside derby saw the Dark Blues finish 2016 in some style as they strolled to a 3-0 victory over Saints at Dens Park. And, for McGowan, the emphatic display showed just how well Dundee can perform. He said: “We know how good we can be — we proved it on Saturday against a good St Johnstone team. “I felt we dominated and I’m trying to think of a chance they had. “We worked really well and had a good balance in the team. “We worked on a shape and, ultimately, it paid off. “All credit to the coaching staff and the players. It’s nice to get a win and go into the break happy.” After a troublesome opening to the season that saw McGowan and his team-mates beaten six times on the bounce amid a 10-game run without victory in the Premiership, the Dark Blues now sit level on points with seventh-placed Partick Thistle. Recently, though, they’ve been grabbing wins, most notably at home where they have picked up 13 points from a possible 15 in their last five at Dens Park. “It’s been up and down but we’re not far off how many games we won last season when you look at it like that,” said McGowan. “People say we lost, lost, lost but last season we drew, we drew, we drew. “It’s so difficult to just go on that wee run because anybody can beat anybody but I feel we’ve got enough in the squad. “I think the gaffer’s looking to bring in a couple of new additions and, hopefully, kick us on again. “It just shows you the way we played against a good St Johnstone team, they got a draw against Rangers and we went and wiped the floor with them 3-0. “We know we can do it, it’s just about consistency and that’s been letting us down. “But you look at last year and we’re not far off winning the same amount of games as last season, so it’s not all doom and gloom. “We’re on the up now, I feel as if we’re turning a corner slowly but surely, so we can only keep going.” The victory also saw Dundee open up a gap to the teams at the foot of the table — five to Hamilton and six to bottom-of-the-table Inverness. McGowan, though, isn’t concerned by the teams at the foot of the Premiership table. He has his sights on a bigger prize. “We’re not looking down, we’ve got to look up,” he added. “That’s the only way I feel, with this team that we’ve got. “We’ve got to look up, there’s no point in looking over your shoulder all season. “You go on a run of two or three games and it pushes you right out of it and into the top six. “It’s everything to play for and all the other teams will be saying the exact same. “I’m just really pleased with the way we went about our business on Saturday. “We dominated the game. It was a great game to play in, it’s always nice winning 3-0, getting a clean sheet after the disappointment at Partick. “I didn’t feel we played badly there, just two bad goals we lost. “Saturday makes up for it, though, and we go into the break with a win. “We’ll come back and, hopefully, kick on. “Everybody about the dressing-room is buzzing, so it’s a happy place.”
  8. After grabbing the lead through Faissal El Bakhtaoui 15 minutes in, the Dark Blues were in full control of the final Premiership contest before the winter break. Kosta Gadzhalov and an own goal from Saints skipper Steven Anderson capped a fine day for Dundee. Hartley said: “I thought in the first half we were great, some of our play was excellent and in the second half we managed the game properly. “We got a clean sheet against difficult opposition, there’s not many teams that will beat them 3-0. “As a team I thought we were excellent right from the goalkeeper through to Haber. “We made a couple of adjustments and actually changed our shape for the first time in a little while. “El Bakhtaoui gave us that little bit of energy, Craig Wighton and Mark O’Hara gave us that drive from the middle of the park and you’ve got to give other guys credit behind them. “It’s a nice way to finish off 2016. “It hasn’t been easy since the start of the season, we know that but, if we can, hopefully, manage performances like that, then we’ll start climbing.” The victory pushes the Dark Blues up the congested table into seventh spot and also gives them a cushion to the teams in the relegation spots. Hamilton in 11th are now five points behind Dundee with bottom side Inverness a further point back. St Johnstone meanwhile in fifth are only six points ahead going into 2017. Their boss Tommy Wright was critical of his side’s decision-making in the defeat. He said: “It’s probably as well as we’ve played away from home with the ball this season. “We created a lot of opportunities but the final ball and decision-making let us down. “The first goal is a counter-attack goal which we should deal with better and there was poor concentration at the second, while the third is a mistake where (Paul) Paton gets caught in possession. We find ourselves 3-0 down when we shouldn’t be. “They were clinical. We made mistakes and they punished us.”
  9. The Dark Blues boss had called on his players to end 2016 on a winning note after picking up recently following a sticky start earlier in the campaign, and his plea did not fall on deaf ears. The rampant hosts triumphed courtesy of first-half goals from Faissal El Bakhtaoui and Kostadin Gadzhalov before Saints captain Steven Anderson turned the ball into his own net in the 57th minute. Hartley said: "It's what we wanted. There have been some difficult moments this season so we wanted to round off the year with a win for the supporters. "We know what we're capable of on our day and we certainly deserved this win as we played like a team from start to finish. "That's what really pleased me overall. It should give us hope for the new year. "We've got a break first of all but then we'll get back into it and see where we go. The lads are a great bunch and are all determined to climb the table. "That's our aim and if we can play like this then we should give ourselves a chance." Meanwhile, St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright resisted the temptation to criticise his players having watched their five-game unbeaten run come to an end. Wright said: "There wasn't that much wrong with the performance when you look at it. "It's not as though we didn't create chances and we did hit the woodwork. When you go 2-0 down it's always difficult and we should have dealt better with their first two goals. "But we had a good December up until this game so the lads have done well overall." Copyright PA Sport 2017, All Rights Reserved
  10. For the Tayside gaffer, the second half of 2016 had always looked likely to be much tougher than the first following the departure of key frontmen Greg Stewart and Kane Hemmings. But the three-goal triumph over the Parth outfit meant they have now taken 13 points from a possible 15 at Dens since a defeat to Partick Thistle in October. Hartley said: “It’s a nice way to finish off 2016. It’s not been easy since the start of the season, but if we can manage performances like that we’ll start climbing.” Despite the defeat, Saints manager Tommy Wright remained upbeat. He said: “It’s probably as well as we’ve played with the ball away from home. “We had a lot of opportunities, but our final ball and our decision-making at times let us down. “I’m not going to be too hard on them because it was a good performance and they kept going right to the end, as well, so we’ll take it on the chin and we’ll move on.” Faissal El Bakhtaoui got the opener with a shot through the legs of the unfortunate Zander Clark and Kostadin Gadzhalov added the second with a composed finish. Dundee wrapped it up in 57 minutes when Steven Anderson deflected in a cross from Tom Hateley.
  11. The Dark Blues scored twice in the first half thanks to goals from Faissal El Bakhtaoui and Kosta Gadzhalov with Saints skipper Steven Anderson putting through his own net just before the hour mark. Before kick-off, the big team news from a Dundee perspective was the absence of skipper Darren O’Dea through illness and midfielder James Vincent. Dens boss Paul Hartley drafted Mark O’Hara and Faissal El Bakhtaoui into the starting XI. Kevin Gomis who was on the bench at Partick Thistle on Wednesday also missed out because of illness. Saints manager Tommy Wright made three changes from the side that drew with Rangers in midweek with Liam Craig, Murray Davidson and Danny Swanson coming in for Chris Millar, David Wotherspoon and Graham Cummins. After an evenly-matched opening, Dundee scored with the first real chance of the game in the 15th minute. Skipper Paul McGowan played a pass out to Marcus Haber on the right and the big Canadian sent a tempting low cross into the St Johnstone penalty area with El Bakhtaoui sweeping the ball home at the front post from close range past Saints keeper Zander Clark. St Johnstone then came agonisingly close to equalising nine minutes later after they were awarded a free-kick 30 yards out. Blair Alston stepped up to take it and he produced a superb delivery that beat Dundee keeper Scott Bain but the ball clattered off the crossbar. Saints came close again when Davidson flung himself full length but his diving header sailed over the bar. The same player then tried his luck with a rasping long-range effort which had plenty of power behind it but was straight at Bain who saved comfortably. However, it was the Dark Blues who extended their lead in the 42nd minute. Haber chested the ball into the path of defender Gadzhalov who produced a finish worthy of any striker to fire high past Clark from eight yards and give his side a two-goal advantage at the break. Not surprisingly, Saints put Dundee under a lot of pressure at the start of the second half as they looked to claw their way back into the game. However, it was the home side who made it three in the 57th minute. O’Hara did really well to win the ball before playing a pass out to Tom Hateley on the right. He fired a low cross into the penalty area with luckless Saints skipper Anderson diverting the ball into his own net. Bain then had to look lively to produce a great diving save from a Swanson 22-yard drive before Clark had to pull off a similar stop from an El Bakhtaoui shot.
  12. And, after watching his old side establish themselves as one of the top teams in the Premiership and win a Scottish Cup, the Canadian can envisage Dundee following their example. Haber, who has made an encouraging start to his Dark Blues’ career, said: “There’s no reason why Dundee can’t do what they’ve done and establish ourselves in the top six for the long-term. “This is a big club so if we could emulate the same consistency then we’d be able to do the same things. “There’s no reason why we can’t do that.” Haber believes that he has improved as a player in the years since he left McDiarmid Park. “I was young and quite raw when I moved to St Johnstone,” he recalled. “I was learning about the game. “I think I’m a better player now. I’m more experienced. “I have learned how to use the attributes I have better, things like how to use my body and picking up the traits of the game. “I think I’m more effective now and use my strengths better. “Unfortunately I did my cruciate when I was at St Johnstone, which was tough because that kept me out for seven months. “But thankfully I was able to recover there and win another contract, so I have good memories from my time there.” Haber added: “Steve Lomas was the manager when I left but Tommy Wright was the assistant so I know him well. “You always knew he’d be a manager himself one day because all the lads respected him. “A lot of the lads are still there from when I played there – Liam Craig, Murray Davidson, Steven Anderson and Chris Millar. “I spoke to a few of them when we played there before I signed and have spoken to a couple of them since I’ve been back. “I’m not surprised they have done well because they always had a very strong mentality there. “It’s a good club with a positive atmosphere so that’s a big help to them.” Haber is optimistic about Dundee’s chances in this afternoon’s local derby. “Although they have done really well in the last few years we have been going OK at home so we’re confident ahead of this one,” he said. “Our home record recently has been good. We have 10 points from the last twelve. “The performance against Hearts wasn’t what we were looking for but the result was the right one and if you can grind out wins like that you’ll do well. “At the moment I’m not focusing on the table, I take things week to week and look at the task in hand. “You get ahead of yourself if you start looking too far into the future and that’s not good in this league because it’s so tight.”
  13. Dundee win with an impressive score against a very good St Johnstone side. Dee took the lead with a El Bak in the 15th minute, and Gadzhalov made it 2 from just inside the box, and to round it off an own goal by S Anderson in the 57th minute made it 3 - 0 Dundee. Dundee 3 - 0 St Johnstone Happy New Year Folks!
  14. And, after watching his old side establish themselves as one of the top teams in the Premiership and win a Scottish Cup, the Canadian can envisage Dundee following their example. Haber, who has made an encouraging start to his Dark Blues’ career, said: “There’s no reason why Dundee can’t do what they’ve done and establish ourselves in the top six for the long-term. “This is a big club so if we could emulate the same consistency then we’d be able to do the same things. “There’s no reason why we can’t do that.” Haber believes that he has improved as a player in the years since he left McDiarmid Park. “I was young and quite raw when I moved to St Johnstone,” he recalled. “I was learning about the game. “I think I’m a better player now. I’m more experienced. “I have learned how to use the attributes I have better, things like how to use my body and picking up the traits of the game. “I think I’m more effective now and use my strengths better. “Unfortunately I did my cruciate when I was at St Johnstone, which was tough because that kept me out for seven months, but thankfully I was able to recover there and win another contract, so I have good memories from my time there.” Haber added: “Steve Lomas was the manager when I left but Tommy Wright was the assistant so I know him well. “You always knew he’d be a manager himself one day because all the lads respected him. “A lot of the lads are still there from when I played there – Liam Craig, Murray Davidson, Steven Anderson and Chris Millar. “I spoke to a few of them when we played there before I signed and have spoken to a couple of them since I’ve been back. “I’m not surprised they have done well because they always had a very strong mentality there. “It’s a good club with a positive atmosphere so that’s a big help to them.” Haber is optimistic about Dundee’s chances in this afternoon’s local derby. “Although they have done really well in the last few years we have been going OK at home so we’re confident ahead of this one,” he said. “Our home record recently has been good. We have 10 points from the last twelve. “The performance against Hearts wasn’t what we were looking for but the result was the right one and if you can grind out wins like that you’ll do well. “At the moment I’m not focusing on the table, I take things week to week and look at the task in hand. “You get ahead of yourself if you start looking too far into the future and that’s not good in this league because it’s so tight.”
  15. The former Kilmarnock man missed the midweek defeat to Partick Thistle with a groin strain but it has cleared up to make him available for the last game before the January break. “Mark is back and in contention,” reported manager Paul Hartley. He’d been feeling a niggle. We’ve had to be careful with him given the fact that he’s just coming back, and we’ve monitored him, but he was able to train today and he’ll be back in the squad for tomorrow. Hartley is fully aware of the challenge that awaits his side at Dens this afternoon. “This will be a tough game,” he said. “They’ve got a very good away record. It’s better than their home one. So we need to be aware of that. “I don’t know why that is. “They were always strong at home. This season they’ve been much better away. We know the stats. “The games are always hard against them. You know what you’re going to get. “They’ve had a good season so far. It’s a team I respect and a manager who has done really well. We know what we’re up against, that’s for sure.” If Dundee have to be mindful of Saints’ away form, the visitors will be well aware that the Dark Blues have been pretty good on their own turf of late. “We’ve picked up 10 points out of 12,” Hartley said. “Which is good. “We’ve got to try and continue that. “We want to go into the break in a decent position from which we can challenge to get into the top six and keep away from the bottom of the table.” The C word will be well used over the next few months by managers of the clubs from sixth to 12th in the Premiership table as they try to keep out of the relegation scrap. Consistency. “It’s always about consistency,” Hartley said. “It’s hard to win a game in this league. “The top four should be the top four with the squads they’ve got. “There isn’t a great deal between fifth or sixth right the way to the bottom. Win a couple of games and look where it can push you. It happened to us and look at Thistle. They hadn’t won in eight before the Ross County game. Now that they’ve won two in a row they’ve jumped into the top six. “That’s the fine margins. So it is about finding consistency.”
  16. The Dark Blues’ trip to Pittodrie at the end of January will now be played on a Friday night (January 27) and shown on BT Sport. And their Dens Park clash with Rangers has been rescheduled for Sunday February 19, kick-off 3.15pm. This one will be on Sky Sports. St Johnstone will host Celtic on Sunday February 5, kick-off 12.30pm. That game will also be live on Sky Sports.
  17. TheDarkBlues

    After a poor first half, home skipper Steven Anderson broke the deadlock for Saints before Danny Swanson added a second with a penalty. A spot-kick at the other end from Rory Loy pulled one back for Dundee in the 88th minute but it was too late to avoid a fifth successive defeat. St Johnstone, meanwhile, leapfrogged above Rangers into fourth and level on points with Hearts. After a placid start from both sides, Dundee should have taken the lead in the 13th minute. Faissal El Bakhtaoui flicked on a Kevin Gomis pass to let Paul McGowan scamper free into space down the right. The midfielder's square pass was perfect for Yordi Teijsse but the striker's tame shot from 14 yards was straight at Zander Clark in the Saints goal. Clark was called into action eight minutes later to push a Tom Hateley free-kick behind and to grab Teijsse's header from the resultant corner. Dundee's chances sparked the hosts to life but Chris Kane could not get a flick on Murray Davidson's low ball following a scramble that saw the Perth men appeal for a penalty when Steven MacLean went down in the box. There was little change to the scrappy pattern of the game after the interval, but St Johnstone increasingly gained the ascendancy as they upped the tempo of their attacks. The opener eventually came in the 62nd minute. Liam Craig's left-foot free-kick from the right curled menacingly into the heart of the Dundee box and Anderson stretched to volley in at the back post. Dundee could not get going in the final third and their task was made twice as hard when Saints netted a second with 15 minutes remaining. Referee Andrew Dallas adjudged Gomis to have barged MacLean just as he rose for a header and pointed to the spot. Swanson swept in calmly. There was almost a third in the 82nd minute when Swanson's superb chipped pass found Michael Coulson but the substitute's header crashed back off the crossbar. Anderson's careless push on Teijsse allowed Loy to pull one back from the spot with two minutes left but the visitors left it too late and could not find an equaliser. Manager reaction St Johnstone's Tommy Wright: "It would have been a travesty if they had equalised. We totally dominated the game. I'm really pleased with how we played, how we moved the ball, but in the last few minutes we put ourselves in a position we shouldn't have been in. "He (Swanson) is a key player for us, he knows that, and we do give him the freedom when the ball is in the opposition half to go and play as he sees it." Dundee's Paul Hartley: "It's a reality check in terms of where we are. We're in a fight just now and we can't get away from that. We've not got enough points, not good enough. We have to all take responsibility. We've got to start doing our talking on the pitch. "I'm frustrated how we played today. I'm angry, in the second half we didn't perform whatsoever. "We've got a strong enough squad and on our day we can compete with anybody. But just now it's not happening for us."
  18. Dundee's losing streak continues with a 2 - 0 defeat away from home to St Johnstone. Less said about this performance the better. St Johnstone 2 - 1 Dundee
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