ALL game, they chanted for their man.

"We want Pizo!" they sang. On the hour mark, the vast swathes of travelling Dundee supporters got what they wanted. The introduction of Peter MacDonald was to change the game in a instant, when he perfectly controlled a high, swirling clearance and darted behind the St Mirren defence to finish coolly.

"It was really special," said Gary Irvine, the Dundee defender, of MacDonald's first touch. "What a goal it is to win a game! Away from home as well, that's even sweeter. Just the way the game went as well, it was a real grind. Both teams had a few chances, theirs might have been slighter better but ours came along.

Loading article content

"Everybody's fighting for their place every week. The last few seasons he has proven he's a top finisher, always been in and around the top scorers. It speaks wonders."

Other than that moment of decisiveness, the wider picture was a match of hopelessly missed chances, on both sides. Kenny McLean took an impressive first touch from a brilliant cross-field pass from Callum Ball, but shanked his second past the post. Gary Harkins was the most culpable - he was in around 10 yards of space in the area, but hesitated to allow the home defenders to block. Dundee's Luka Tankulic hit a tame effort.

James McAlister fired from outside the box, then thumped a header over the crossbar. Adam Drury, making his St Mirren debut on loan from Manchester City, missed two chances. Both were volleys, both went horribly askew, though he showed enough promise to earn a standing ovation when he was replaced, even if it did seem half-hearted. Last-ditch blocks, scrambled saves; on countless occasions the ball bounced around the penalty box and was somehow hacked clear. It was that kind of day.

Much of the pre-match billing concerned the fact that the game pitted brother against brother. And the McGinns lined up against each other on St Mirren's left flank. Paul, the elder, was in control at right-back for Dundee during most of the match. There was just one moment of drama. McGinn the elder went flying through his younger sibling, John - fairly, it should be said - and left him sprawled on the turf.

Perhaps worrying about getting a telling off at home, he hesitated, trying to alert the referee. In the meantime, though, St Mirren broke behind him. Nothing came of it, just a sclaffed cross-shot, but Paul Hartley, seething on the touchline, was quick to remind him that there is no room for such sentiment in football.

He is a fiery sort, the Dundee manager. Asked if his side had a lucky escape, the question was met by a piercing glare. "No, I don't," he said, witheringly.

As for the hosts? No goals or points from three matches, they perhaps did protest too much. "There's no panic, we don't panic," Tommy Craig said.

His talisman, Steven Thompson, echoed the sentiment. "No reason to panic," he insisted.

The veteran striker was brought on at the same time as MacDonald, charged with the same task. Having played no football since the start of the May, though, he could not provide the same cutting edge. But as a step on the road to full match fitness, it did him the world of good.

"I had only two days training before today," said Thompson. "There's nothing can replicate a Premiership match when you're on the pitch. Hopefully that's the first step for me getting back match-fit."