• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

SPFL Championship: Dundee 2 Dumbarton 1: Fright before flight

DUNDEE fans now have their own helicopter Saturday to speak of.

Peter MacDonald celebrates after scoring the goal that put Dundee 2-0 in front at Dens Park Photograph: SNS
Peter MacDonald celebrates after scoring the goal that put Dundee 2-0 in front at Dens Park Photograph: SNS

Those who thought hiring a chopper for the conclusion of the championship title race was overkill had to think again yesterday afternoon. With Hamilton improbably overturning their seven-goal arrears with a 10-2 demolition of Morton, the destination of the title was anything but certain in a hugely dramatic last 10 minutes.

Put in its simplest terms, the Dens Park club were the width of one of Kyle Letheren's gloves from missing out on the title. Or alternatively, one blast of referee Bobby Madden's whistle. A boisterous party in front of a sell-out crowd might suddenly have seemed a very different place had the keeper not managed to tip Bryan Prunty's goalbound header wide, or had Kyle Benedictus not managed to avoid the attention of the official when he wiped out Dumbarton substitute Chris Kane in the box with the ball nowhere in his proximity.

The visitors had already had a penalty by that point, courtesy of Willie Dyer's mistimed lunge at Prunty - emphatically converted by Scott Agnew - and Dumbarton boss Ian Murray articulated the frustrations of his side when he suggested that, as well as being the best side in the league, the hosts had quite possibly been the luckiest.

Dundee certainly seemed determined to do things the hard way yesterday. Even the lifting of the trophy had to be delayed by what seemed like an eternity after several different pitch invasions. But eventually Paul Hartley was allowed to savour his third successive personal promotion after two with Alloa before thinking ahead to bolstering his squad for next season, with the backing of US investor Tim Keyes.

It was only 12 months ago, you will recall, that John Brown was failing narrowly in an unlikely salvage job after Barry Smith side's had struggled to acclimatise to the top flight following their sudden ascension amid the chaos of the Rangers affair.

"I've come through the divisions and will now manage in the Premiership, which is what I wanted," said Hartley. "We have to get back to work next week because it will be a long summer. We have got a bit of time now and we will build."

Dens Park was a riot of energy and noise as kick-off approached, its eccentric old curves heaving to accommodate its 10,500 capacity which had sold out to an eager public as early as Thursday. Skipper Gavin Rae picked up a special award to mark his 300th appearance beforehand, and almost certainly his last before he emigrates to Australia. It was quite a game to sign off on.

Even as experienced a figure as Rae was betraying signs of anxiety early on with a fresh air swipe inside his own area, but Dundee's strikers Chrstian Nade and Peter MacDonald - one a joke figure during his time at Hearts, and the other one of two members of this Dens Park squad who had narrowly missed out on promotion with Morton last season - would prove the difference.

One great climb from MacDonald played in Martin Boyle for an early chance which the winger skewed wide, before a one-two with MacDonald saw Rae test Jamie Ewings from distance. Jim McAlister's effort following a Boyle cross was too close to Ewings.

Dundee suspected all along that a draw would be enough, but with Hamilton racing into a two-goal lead at home to Morton, it wasn't until the opener went in that they could breathe easily. Or so they thought. It arrived on 25 minutes, courtesy of a looping header from Nade which took an eternity to drop under the bar.

Colin Nish, a former Dundee striker, nearly changed the mood with a lob which struck the post and bounced out, but MacDonald demonstrated why he also belongs in the top flight when he made space in the box to latch on to a Gary Irvine cross and directed a perfect header back past Ewings.

An impromptu conga sprung up in the area of terracing known as the Derry, the fans little suspecting that before long their players would be taking the ball to that same corner flag in desperation. Agnew's penalty cut the difference, and still the goals rained in from Lanarkshire - 7-1, 7-2, 8-2, 9-2, 10-2. Instead of a goal being needed at either ground, now it was just needed that this ground. And courtesy of Prunty's header it almost came.

"It was just a fingernail," said Letheren. "I thought it was going to beat me and it took a nasty bounce as well. That is why you want to be a keeper, to make saves like that."

Contextual targeting label: 
Football

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

231070