DUNDEE didn’t just win promotion to the Premiership yesterday, they demonstrated why it will be good to have them back. Nearly 11,000 fans jammed into Dens for a party that started early in their frantic tussle with Dumbarton, was briefly halted by news from Hamilton and eventually, mercifully, burst into full swing when the final whistle sounded.
Dundee 2 - 1 Dumbarton
Scorers: Dundee; Nade 25; MacDonald 36 , Dumbarton; Agnew pen 69
Supporters streamed on to the pitch from every direction, Paul Hartley, the Dundee manager, sprinted for the tunnel, punching the air as he went, and it was a good half hour before enough room was cleared on the pitch to present the Championship trophy. With every respect to their promotion rivals, this club are back where they belong.
Boy was it stressful, though. First-half goals by Christian Nade and Peter MacDonald appeared to have rendered the outcome a formality, but when Scott Agnew pulled one back from the penalty spot, and it emerged that Hamilton were on their way to a 10-2 victory at New Douglas Park, Dundee knew that only a win would do.
Panic set in, exacerbated by a challenge from Kyle Benedictus on Chris Kane, which caused the Dundee support to hold its breath. It should have been a penalty. The supporters knew it, as did Ian Murray, the Dumbarton manager, who later lambasted the referee, Bobby Madden, for not awarding it. “Full house, Dundee winning the league...it’s up to you guys what you write, but for me it’s a stonewall penalty,” said Murray.
It is probably as well that Murray was serving a touchline ban for there was bad blood between the two management teams. It later transpired that ill feeling stemmed from a previous meeting between the teams. “I was angry with the last comments that they made, that they were ‘leagues apart’,” said Hartley. “Well, we’re leagues apart now. We are in the Premiership, they’re in the Championship.”
It was an emotional day for Hartley, one that gives him his third consecutive promotion – there were two with Alloa Athletic – and takes him into the top flight after just three months with Dundee. He spoke later about the prospect of a top-flight derby next season, about good times for the city, but also about Hamilton’s mauling of Morton.
“That’s such a strange result, it really is. I mean Morton beat us 1-0. You don’t see results like that. When do you ever see a game that finishes 10-2 on the last day of the season? Never. You don’t even see that in amateur games. If you’re a professional team, you shouldn’t lose 10-2.”
Not for a long time has Dens Park been in such a frenzy. Thousands were in the ground by two o’clock, never mind three, inflatables danced about the Provost Road End and, before kick-off, Hartley applauded all four stands and waved his arms in a gesture designed to gee them up.
It wasn’t necessary.
After 25 minutes they erupted. Nade earned the free kick and was quickly back on his feet and when Kevin McBride delivered the dead ball, he sent a looping header over Ewings and into the net.
Dumbarton were brisk and competitive but a second goal by Dundee, just 11 minutes after the first, doubled the home side’s lead. This time Gary Irvine sent in the cross, an inswinger that dropped behind a flat back four, where MacDonald scored with a header.
If it felt like mission accomplished, nobody told Dumbarton. With 21 minutes left, a penalty was awarded for William Dyer’s challenge on Bryan Prunty. Agnew rammed it past the goalkeeper’s left hand.
That, allied to news that it was raining goals in Hamilton, caused a form of hysteria in the home support, who saw Chris Kane’s piercing shot palmed away by Letheren. Agnew pulled one wide and, in the final minute, Prunty did the same, but it was the rejected penalty claim that decided Dundee’s fate. Murray was furious later, but the real victims were in Hamilton.
BT Sport Q&A: Rangers | Hibs | Neil Lennon
THIS week’s BT Sport video Q&A looks at whether Rangers fans will buy season tickets and if the club’s supporters will force a change of ownership.
The form of Hibs under Terry Butcher is also examined following the Easter Road side’s derby defeat while the future of Neil Lennon is also considered following the announcement that his assistant Johan Mjallby is to depart at the end of the season.
• Email your Scottish football question for the BT Sport panel to answer. The next show will be recorded on May 7 after St Johnstone v Celtic, which will also be shown live on BT Sport, with the video available on The Scotsman website the following day. You can also tweet us @TheScotsman.
A line-up of experts will handle your questions after each BT Sport game. Most match days, the team includes Darrell Currie, Derek Rae and Gary McAllister.
Over this season, BT Sport will air 30 SPFL matches plus 10 Rangers games from the SPFL League One.
• T&C We can not guarantee which presenters will answer your questions. Questions are vetted and no correspondence will be entered into.