AS THE dust settled on an eight-goal thriller that ultimately delivered the Championship title and promotion back to the Premiership at the first time of asking, Dundee defender Lee Ashcroft could hardly recall the chaotic 90 minutes that had preceded.

After a dream start in which Alex Jakubiak had put the visitors to Ochilview ahead in the fourth minute, the Dens Park outfit found themselves 2-1 down less than 10 minutes later when Charlie Fox and Connor Shields struck for Queen’s Park.

And having regained the lead with just 34 minutes on the clock, the Taysiders were dealt another blow on the cusp of half-time.

But Ashcroft, who scored to make it 2-2, felt sure the experienced players in Gary Bowyer’s side would be able to overcome any barrier to get over the line.

“It all just feels like a blur. The first half was wild, which is great for the spectators but not so great for us,” Ashcroft said.

“But listen, we are delighted to have got over the line in the end. Queen’s Park put up some game against us, which we knew that was going to be case.

“I don’t think the gaffer knew what to say [at half-time] to be honest, we were all kind of in shock.

“It was all a bit hectic in the first half, a lot of end-to-end and a lot happening in the game and it was actually good for us to get in at half-time as we had just lost a goal and it gave us a chance to regroup.

“We calmed it down a bit and when we came back out we knew that our front players were causing bother and would get more chances so that it was just a case of us keeping them out at the back.

“It is hard not to think negative thoughts. There are a lot of young players in our teams but having been there before I knew we just had to keep going.

“We got it back to 2-2, went 3-2 ahead and then they scored just before half-time to make it 3-3. Just a wild first half, I don’t think I have ever played in the like of it before.”

Lyall Cameron and Luke McCowan made sure of the silverware in the second half for Dundee, but as for his own strike in that frenzied first half, Englishman Ashcroft admits to another dose of amnesia.

“I keep forgetting I scored, it was all that much of a blur,” he said. “The first half was just nuts. Amazing for the neutrals but the true fans must have had their hearts in their mouths just like us.

“The second half we were more composed and got over the line.”

When the champagne corks have all been swept away and the focus returns to next season, Ashcroft insists confidence is high in the Dens Park camp that they can better their previous campaign in the top flight – one which ended with Mark McGhee’s failure to stave off the drop. And the defender is equally determined to prove himself at that level having been hampered by a recurring hamstring injury in the relegation season.

Asked if winning the title gives them confidence on their return to the Premiership, Ashcroft said: “One hundred percent. The last time we went up we started the league pretty decently and then went onto a run of bad form which you can’t afford to do in that league.

“Every game in the Premiership is hard so we are going to need to get all the experience we can get. Hopefully keep the majority of our squad together and go and replicate what other teams who have managed to stay in the league have done. That is the main aim. We will enjoy this for a couple of days and then look forward to getting back to the Premiership which is where we want to be.

“We started the league well [in the 2021/22 season] and then I got an injury at such a bad time – we had been on such a good run – and then when I came back it happened again.

“If the club want to keep me, I will hopefully be better this time round.”

One man Ashcroft and his team-mates will be keen to have around is manager Gary Bowyer.

The Englishman has steadied the ship and provided a calming influence together with his assistant manager Billy Barr and first-team coach Scott Paterson.

“Listen, he has been amazing,” Ashcroft said. “He has come up here from down south obviously. He has been absolutely brilliant with me myself and he is good at calming the boys down in these kind of games.

“The full staff have been excellent and we are just delighted we done it for them and we done it together. We are going to enjoy the few days together and then look forward to next year.

“He never gets too far ahead of himself or goes over the top, he just knows how to calm boys in nervy situations.

“His man management has been very good, with me especially and I know he has been with the other boys too.”