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Derby Day Dee-Light For Dundee

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Almost 11 years of derby drought ended for Dundee with victory at last over Dundee United.

And if any win would have done after nine games of mainly heartache in this fixture, the icing on the cake for the Dark Blues was that, ultimately, their 3-1 success over the beleaguered Tangerines was as comfortable as it was deserved.

The other big bonus for Paul Hartley’s men was the three points moved them back into the top six and within touching distance of what would be a remarkable return to Premiership football.

Victory for them at St Johnstone on Saturday will confirm a top-half finish in their first season back. Even if they don’t win at McDiarmid Park, a win for United over Hamilton would do.

But on Wednesday night few of a Dark Blue persuasion were worrying about such things as they savoured the long forgotten feeling of coming out on top in a clash of British football’s nearest neighbours.

With it, the pain of seven defeats and only two draws in the previous nine derbies was swept away.

As they sang their hearts out, Dundee fans could at last forget the humiliation of the 6-2 New Year’s Day hammering at Tannadice.

The pain of that day only served to make victory much sweeter this time. It was hard not to allow them their moment of joy.

What they’d witnessed was a determined display from a group desperate to show they were better than the previous derby suggested.

From the first kick it was clear Dundee were up for the battle.

They were helped on their way by a horrendous error from United keeper Rado Cierzniak as he let a Greg Stewart shot slide through his legs but even by then it was clear the home players were winning the war for supremacy at Dens.

They did have to retake the lead after United grabbed a quick equaliser through a Nadir Ciftci penalty, but during the first half the Dark Blues were the team more up for the fight.

A battering ram of a header from James McPake had put them in front again and it was going to take something special from United to peg them back a second time.

The Tangerines did press hard early in the second half, but a superb break saw Stewart pick out Paul Heffernan to hand him in first goal for the club on a plate. After that it was game over.

While Dundee had been the better team, prior to that United had looked capable of getting back into what was a frantic and exciting derby.

At 3-1, though, the woes of nine games without a win going into this were apparent. That meant their opponents, with confidence sky high, played out the remaining 22 minutes with few worries.

And while the priority remains securing that top-six slot, they now lie just two points behind fourth-placed United. Thoughts may soon turn to overhauling them and claiming what could well be a European slot.

For United, the focus has to be on finding a way of halting what is now an alarming collapse.

Theirs was not a dreadful performance but the loss of bad goals meant they had little chance of winning.

Right now they are a pale shadow of the side that looked so powerful in the previous derby and right up to the end of January was a match for anyone in the land.​

Source: The Evening Telegraph

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