Dundee hadn’t won in the Premiership since the end of October going into this game, but the manner in which they put that right yesterday was, from their point of view, gloriously emphatic. They virtually had the points wrapped by the interval after a first-half performance full of attacking zest saw them 3-1 ahead and Motherwell reduced to ten men following Henrik Ojamaa’s dismissal for an elbow on Kevin Thomson.
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But every bit as good as Paul Hartley’s men were in banishing the midwinter gloom hanging over them, they were helped by some calamitous Motherwell defending which was summed up by Dundee’s fourth goal when Marc O’Brien sent the ball trundling into his own net after he had collided with Dan Twardzik. It’s one of those that has the potential to end up on a DVD compilation of daft football moments.
Hartley, however, understandably sought to focus on his own side’s contribution to securing three points in such resounding fashion. “It was a really positive start,” he reflected, “We knew we needed to take the game to Motherwell today and make things happen. We scored some good goals and I was disappointed we didn’t get more.
“I’m pleased for the players – they’ve had a lot of criticism over the last couple of weeks, but we’ve shown that we’re a half-decent team. We’ve got a good gap over the teams at the bottom and we can start to look at those above us.”
Much of Motherwell’s struggles this season can be put down to a poor defensive record and going into this game their first objective must surely have been to keep the door firmly shut for as long as possible.
As it transpired they managed to do so for only three minutes and were two down within ten minutes.
Of his side’s woes, Ian Baraclough ruefully observed: “You’ve got to help yourselves and we didn’t help ourselves early in this game. We talked about making it difficult for them and getting a foothold but after eight minutes we’re 2-0 down. I’ve just told the players we’ve got to stay together as a group and demand the best from each other”.
On an afternoon of endless defensive errors, there was admittedly an element of misfortune for Baraclough’s men about the manner of Dundee’s opener. Thomson sent Alex Harris clear with a finely measured pass and the on-loan winger, who had a fine game, fired in a shot that took a massive deflection off Stephen McManus, leaving Twardzik completely helpless.
Time and again, though, Motherwell were simply carved apart by the rampant hosts, who increased their lead when a flick from David Clarkson released Greg Stewart and as he burst through he lashed a shot off the crossbar. With Twardzik grounded and no Motherwell defenders nearby, he then had the simplest task to head home the rebound.
There was a brief respite for the Lanarkshire side when they pulled one back through John Sutton, but the roof fell in on them again just after the half-hour mark and it was something of a nightmare for Twardzik who, having just made two excellent saves from Clarkson and Harris, flapped at a Stewart corner and Gary Irvine made the most of the gift by blasting it into the net.
Any hope of a way back for the visitors was then more or less extinguished just before the interval when Ojamaa inexplicably stuck out an arm to catch Thomson and was shown a straight red card by referee Stephen Finnie. No one in claret and amber made any attempt to take issue with the decision.
Sensing there were more rich pickings to be had, Dundee continued to probe and press after the break, while for the visitors this was now all about trying to limit the damage. They were muddling along towards this modest target, albeit surviving a couple of real scares when Clarkson and Stewart again flashed shots just wide. Alas for them. however they had one more howler in their locker. Luka Tankulic hit a modest shot from ten yards that Twardzik seemed to have comfortably covered until O’Brien collided with him and then inadvertently knocked the ball into his own net.
Dundee: Bain; McGinn, Davidson, Gadzhalov, Irvine (Dyer 54); McGowan, Thomson (Harkins 54) , McAlister (Tankulic 54), Harris; Clarkson, Stewart.
Motherwell: Twardzik; Law, O’Brien, McManus, Reid; Ainsworth (Erwin 60), Carswell, Lasley, Thomas (Watt 60), Ojamaa, Sutton (Cadden 78).
Referee: S Finnie. Attendance: 5,105
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