"TOP of the league?

You're having a laugh." Kyle Letheren certainly is.

The Dundee goalkeeper no doubt heard that most unforgiving chant from the Dumbarton support as he walked off the field in the wake of this bout of daylight robbery and certainly could not keep the grin off his face when reflecting on an afternoon in which he went from villain to hero in little more than an hour.

Loading article content

The 26-year-old did make a number of impressive saves over the course of an engaging match largely dominated by the home side, and preserved Dundee's slim lead over Hamilton Academical at the head of the SPFL Championship five minutes from the final whistle when saving a penalty from Bryan Prunty.

However, with 13 minutes on the clock and Paul Hartley's side being battered by their hosts, it looked as if his fate had been sealed by what appeared a major error.

Having already been forced by Chris Kane and Mitch Megginson to make two fine stops, Letheren allowed a Chris Turner header to squirm through his grasp, through his legs and over the goal-line.

As the home players celebrated, Letheren failed to notice that referee Brian Colvin had awarded a foul against Turner for a push and given him an escape route towards restoring his reputation.

Colvin had disallowed what seemed a legitimate goal when Dumbarton lost 3-0 at Dens Park in December, and Letheren admitted they had been let off the hook again during a first half described in the dressing room by Hartley as "unacceptable".

"When you put it all together, it was a bit of a mixed bag, wasn't it?" Letheren said. "We had our backs to the wall for the first 30 minutes and were a little bit fortunate with the disallowed goal. I couldn't tell you if it was a foul or not because I had my hands on my head, thinking: 'Oh, no, what have I done?'

"We got away with it, though. It's funny because there was one up at Dens against Dumbarton that could easily have been given as well, so I think someone is looking down on me from above. I thanked my lucky stars for that one.

"We know we can't keep performing the way we did in the first half, though. It was a smash and grab in a way, but winning when you play badly is the sign of champions. The Championship is in our own hands and no-one can take it away from us other than ourselves."

Dumbarton, whose commitment to attacking football can make them a pleasure to watch, still have a chance of making it into the play-off places.

However, this defeat was a blow at an important stage of the season and manager Ian Murray could not resist suggesting that past events with Colvin at Dens Park helped influence the official's decision at the disallowed 'goal'.

"He said Chris pushed one of their players," said Murray. "I couldn't see it myself. We've had a bit of previous with that ref and that is probably where the injustice stems from. We dominated the game and were excellent in the first half. It looked like two teams from different leagues and, on another day, it could have been four or five at half-time."

In the end, it was a mistake by Letheren's opposite number Stephen Grindlay that made the difference seven minutes from time.

Having advanced from his line to deal with an aimless long ball, he took a terrible touch and gifted possession to substitute Peter MacDonald, who had replaced Christian Nade on the hour.

The little striker quickly slipped his low shot past Grindlay from the right-hand side of the area and was off to celebrate with the away support before the ball had rolled into the net.

Even then, there was more drama to come. Kyle Benedictus conceded a penalty two minutes later with a foul on the impressive Kane and Prunty, only just on the field to replace Scott Linton, blasted his spot kick straight at a static Letheren.

"Prunty is a goal machine in this league and I wasn't surprised he took it," said Letheren. "I knew I'd stand my ground from the minute he got the ball and I am just thankful he didn't change his mind.

"I didn't think it was a penalty in the first place. Without giving too much away, I owe a massive thanks to our goalkeeping coach Bobby Geddes for the save.

"It was a brave decision because I'd have looked an absolute doughnut if he'd slipped it into the bottom corner. I'm just thankful he blasted it straight at me."