PRE-MATCH talk was about winning ugly, but things couldn’t have been much different as Dundee finally returned to winning ways in quite memorable fashion.
Dundee - 4
Hemmings 4, 21, 26; Stewart 19
Hamilton Academical - 0
With a first-half hat-trick inside 26 minutes from striker Kane Hemmings, the hosts blew Hamilton away as fellow striker Greg Stewart also got on the score-sheet in the opening stages which meant Paul Hartley’s side savoured their first league win since early October to move them back into the top six.
There have been some trying times for the Tayside club in recent weeks with a series of draws to contend with, but this welcome three points gave them some long overdue cheer.
“I’ve scored a couple of hat-tricks before but never one that quickly,” smiled Hemmings afterwards. It has been a hard couple of months because we have had good, bad and okay performances. We were determined to get three points today because it had been a while and we owed it to the fans.”
As well as Hemmings’ exploits, Stewart struck in 19 minutes with his first goal since September to inflict more misery on Accies whose manager, Martin Canning, later compared their defending to “pub league” standard.
Dundee raced ahead in just four minutes. Gary Irvine’s long ball out of defence was missed by Jamie Sendles-White, allowing Hemmings to run through and take the ball round visiting keeper Michael McGovern.
It was all Dundee, and a few minutes later midfielder Gary Harkins was the next to try his luck from distance. Harkins turned swiftly and hit a shot from 22 yards just outside the post. But they weren’t to be denied as they increased their lead in 19 minutes.
Harkins drove forward from midfield and shuttled the ball out wide to Stewart who’d made some space for himself. He took a touch inside before curling an unstoppable shot with his left foot high past helpless McGovern.
Hamilton were stunned by this and it was to get worse when Dundee made it 3-0 in 21 minutes when the visiting defence made a hash of Stewart’s ball forward.
Hemmings pounced and ran on to make no mistake by rounding McGovern and slotting home from close range. Then, in 26 minutes, Hemmings completed his hat-trick.
The striker collected Paul McGowan’s pass and burst forward and unleashed a superb low strike from 22 yards which beat McGovern into his far corner.
Hamilton needed a miracle after the break and at least they tried to salvage some pride, substitute Jesus Garcia-Tena trying his luck with a long-range free-kick soon after which almost caught Scott Bain, the Dundee keeper, by surprise, whistling just inches past the post.
But nothing could deny Dundee their day and Hartley saluted his players for returning to winning ways in such style.
“I thought we were terrific,” said Hartley afterwards.
“We needed that result just to get us going again. I’m pleased with the players. They’ve had to put up with a lot of criticism over the past seven or eight weeks.
“The players have never let their heads go down with all the criticism they’ve taken. If we can get it going, we’re a team who can cause other teams problems.”
Meanwhile, Canning felt his side had only themselves to blame having defended so poorly.
“If you defend like that you’d struggle to win a game in the pub league, never mind the Premiership,” he sighed afterwards. “I was shocked by it. It was individual errors and defensive mistakes.
“It was just poor reading of the game which cost us.”