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Dundee 2 Morton 0: Goal drought ends as Nade heads in the right direction

In putting in what was deemed a man-of-the-match performance, Christian Nade could hardly have offered a more reassuringly robust on-field presence at Dens Park on Saturday.

Christian Nade scored his first goal for Dundee on Saturday and is confident of adding more under the coaching of Paul Hartley. Picture: SNS
Christian Nade scored his first goal for Dundee on Saturday and is confident of adding more under the coaching of Paul Hartley. Picture: SNS

Yet afterwards, as he expressed his feelings at having scored the goal which put his side on course to preserve its lead in the SPFL Champion­ship, both the words and demeanour of the burly Frenchman spoke eloquently of the fragility of a career in sport.

Now 29, Nade has caught the eye of many a manager since making his senior debut with Troyes in the French Championnat more than 14 years ago. Returns, however, have rarely matched expectation so when the latest to recruit him, John Brown, departed some nine days after the striker made a faltering debut at Falkirk, he had to fear the worst. That was likely exacerbated after he was not chosen to play in Paul Hartley's first three matches as manager.

Hartley's first defeat, at Cowdenbeath last month, provided the chance which Nade gratefully seized, however. The striker started against Morton on Saturday and earned plaudits for his display. Indeed, had the resounding thump with which his forehead squarely met the ball for his opening goal been repeated just two minutes later, when his glancing blow slipped just wide of a post, it might have been an even better afternoon.

Likewise, had Nade managed to find the target rather than drag his shot wide after shielding the ball superbly and turning in the box to earn a clear shot from around only eight yards out in the second half, the striker could have revelled in an even more impressive display.

It was, however, a start. "Finally!" he said, acknowledging that after spending 2013 injured, the win over Morton brought his first senior goal since one registered in Thai football two years ago. "I know people are waiting for me. I had a lot of pressure and the coach put me under pressure as well, so it was a relief to score.

"Today was my first start [under Hartley]. Hopefully I'll start the next game and I will get a bit better every game, try to improve my fitness and try to score more goals. I thought I would score more goals today so I was disappointed, but one goal is good already."

Clearly he is conscious of how he is perceived hereabouts after an earlier spell at Hearts. "When I was at Hearts I didn't score many goals, but that was [down to] my position as well, so where they wanted me to play was difficult to score," said Nade. "The coach here is totally different, he wants me to take the ball, try to turn with it and shoot as much as I can, so I guess I will score more goals than at Hearts.

"I get a lot of the ball, the guys trust me, so I feel good. They are always trying to encourage me. I feel good here."

For his part, Hartley expressed satisfaction with a third clean sheet in his four games in charge as well as the overall performance of his team and that of his striker, in particular. The Dundee manager is aware, too, that his players are not short of incentive to impress him.

"[Nade] did well because he's playing for his future like everybody else," said Hartley. "He took the ball in well, linked the play, got us up the park and was a real presence for us today.

"We've got boys out of contract and even boys on contract are really looking to impress us. That's the big thing for us, they're all playing for their futures, like any club and any player, but I thought their attitude was fantastic."

The arrival of a second goal, knocked in by Peter MacDonald after the energetic Martin Boyle had, for the umpteenth time, got into the box on the right and this time unleashed a shot that Derek Gaston could only parry, allowed Dundee to see the game out in comfort.

That said, their reverie was threatened by contentious challenge from Kyle Benedictus. Some believed the Dundee defender had taken the ball cleanly before Archie Campbell, the Morton substitute, clattered to the turf just as he was pulling the trigger, but Kenny Shiels, the manager of the Cappielow side, described it as "a rugby tackle."

Shiels praised George Salmond as one of the better referees, but also mentioned to the match official that his side do not seem to be awarded penalties. The Northern Irishman did very reasonably acknowledge, however, that the home side had deserved their win.

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