Recreation Park proved a happy hunting ground once again for Paul Hartley on Saturday as the Dundee manager took a huge step towards securing a third promotion in successive seasons.
Hartley steered Alloa to back-to-back promotions in the last two seasons before leaving in January to replace John Brown at Dens Park.
His hopes of leading Dundee into the Premiership looked to be fading as Hamilton went into the penultimate weekend of the season a point clear at the top, but a 3-0 win over Alloa coupled with a 4-1 defeat for Accies at Dumbarton means that Hartley’s side go into the last day of the season two points clear.
Christian Nade opened the scoring for Dundee three minutes before half-time when he rose to head home a Kevin McBride corner. The former Hearts forward was involved in the second as his net-bound header from a Gavin Rae cross was blocked on the line by the arm of Alloa’s Darryl Meggatt, who was dismissed
Peter MacDonald slammed home the spot-kick and as news of Hamilton going behind at the Bet Butler Stadium filtered through, Craig Beattie cracked in a third goal for Dundee.
Hartley said: “It was terrific to bounce back after losing last week at Morton. We got a fair amount of criticism but have answered back well.
“All I asked the players to do was to ensure that we won and that we had something to play for against Dumbarton in our final game. Now we know what we need to do and we do not need to worry about results elsewhere if we do it. It will be a really tense afternoon but I am sure that we will get a good turnout from the fans to help us.”
Third-bottom Alloa now need to defeat Falkirk next weekend to ensure they avoid finishing second bottom and manager Barry Smith said: “We started well but the end result is disappointing. It is all about how we respond next Saturday.”
Hamilton now need to beat Morton this weekend and hope for a favour from Dumbarton, who put them to the sword emphatically on Saturday. The Sons opened the scoring after just over half an hour through a Scott Agnew free kick before Jason Scotland levelled for Accies before half-time.
Former Dundee striker Colin Nish nodded Dumbarton ahead with 13 minutes left before Accies player-manager Alex Neil was sent off after going eyeball to eyeball with former team-mate Mark Gilhaney. Mitch Megginson lashed home from 30 yards with Jordan Kirkpatrick grabbing the fourth for Ian Murray’s side, whose play-off hopes are effectively over.
Third-placed Falkirk blew the chance to crank up the heat on the top two as they were held to a 1-1 draw by relegated Morton. The Bairns took the lead just before half-time through Conor McGrandles.
But the Greenock side levelled 14 minutes after the restart when Barrie McKay cut the ball back for Rowan Vine. Falkirk’s Craig Sibbald struck a post and Mark Beck sent a header just wide before they had to settle for a point.
The Bairns go into the last weekend of the season three points behind Dundee and with goal difference which is three goals inferior.
Queen of the South will compete for a place in the Premiership next month after their 2-0 win over Livingston unless there is a three-point and 12-goal change in Dumbarton’s favour this Saturday. Ian McShane and former West Lothian favourite Iain Russell scored the Dumfries side’s goals.
Cowdenbeath are clinging on to their Championship status after defeating Fife rivals Raith Rovers 2-1 at Stark’s Park. Rory McKeown opened the scoring for the visitors after 19 minutes and it was 2-0 with nine minutes left when Lewis Milne slammed home a fine volley.
Raith sub Greig Spence pulled a goal back but the Central Park side held on for the win that moves them a point behind Alloa.