Dundee .................. 4 St Mirren ................ 2

THE Paisley Buddies will not be repeating their Scottish Cup celebrations of 11 years ago come May, thanks to a kamikaze performance that stunned everyone at Dens Park yesterday.

Two goals adrift and looking at that stage to have exited from the 1997-98 competition, madness appeared to take over the guise of an attempted comeback by the Love Street troops.

Instead of gathering in a concerted effort to get back in to the tie, a couple of moments of soccer suicide saw the men from the west lose two key players, goalkeeper Alan Combe and midfielder Andy Roddie prior to the interval whistle.

Even before keeper Combe's first moment of concern, when the home side edged in front in 13 minutes, there had been signs that the Dark Blues' determination was to play a major role in the affair.

But even the most ardent of the home supporters could not have envisaged the assistance offered by the unfortunate Combe to allow their favourites to break the stalemate.

Steve McCormick powered a speculative 25-yarder on target and the keeper allowed the ball to bounce immediately in front of him and land in the roof of the net, when a simple block would have done the trick.

Down-in-the-mouth Saints suffered further seven minutes later when, in going for an equaliser, they left their own back door open to a lightning break down the right.

The scintillating four-man move ended when Iain Anderson's final pass coincided with James Grady's well-timed run through the middle and the former Clydebank man's clinical finish from 16 yards put the home side in the driving seat.

One or two moments of carelessness in the tackle saw both Paul Fenwick and Norrie McWhirter booked for ill-timed challenges on dangermen Grady and Anderson.

But the visitors could not have planned for the madness to come when Combe was the first to see red in 36 minutes for handling McCormick's intended cross to the unmarked Grady - outside of his area.

Referee John Rowbotham was quick to act and the keeper trooped off to the dressing room to be replaced in goal by experienced Tommy Turner.

Then came Lee Maddison's third goal for Dundee, a blistering 10-yard finish from a neat Grady-McCormick move.

The cup excitement boiled over just seconds after the kick-off when a standside linesman signalled an off-the-ball incident involving Andy Roddie and home handyman Dariusz Adamczuk.

Following a consultation between the officials, Roddie was dispatched to join Combe in the Saints' dressing room.

Mark Yardley replaced Turner between the sticks on the resumption after the interval, but not surprisingly nine-man Saints struggled to keep their heads above water, and went 4-0 behind after 57 minutes.

Russell Kelly powered a shot off the stand-in's left-hand post and James Grady ghosted in to net his second goal of the tie from the rebound.

A Dundee reshuffle encouraged St Mirren into a bid to gain some consolation from their cup efforts, a Steve Watson header and a perfect finish from Chris Iwelumo obliging.