SO THE race is very much on for the Championship title. Not only did this emphatic victory for Dundee end Hamilton’s unbeaten home record, it also dashed their hopes of putting clear blue water between themselves and the Dens Park side.
Accies’ advantage is back down to three points and the manner in which they were upended yesterday must mean they will be casting apprehensive glances over their shoulders as John Brown’s men come up on the rails.
Headed goals from defenders Iain Davidson and Declan Gallagher in either half put Dundee in command and Peter MacDonald’s last-minute strike rounded off a fine afternoon for the visitors.
“We knew we couldn’t afford to get beaten today” reflected a happy Brown afterwards. “Our attitude and commitment was first class. It’s not straightforward when you come down from the Premiership – everybody thinks you’re favourites to go back up. I think we showed a great desire to beat a really good side”.
As for the goals that were to put his side on their way to a vital victory, Brown admitted his side had been working on set pieces. “Davidson and Gallagher have got a good physical presence and if you get decent delivery to them then they can cause a real threat”.
It was a game where the canny experience in Dundee’s ranks snuffed out the youthful exuberance of the hosts. Hamilton started full of energetic probing, which had their opponents looking uneasy as they slipped and slid their way around the frost-touched New Douglas Park synthetic playing surface in their efforts to contain the threat.
However, the visitors applied their occasional forward incursions to more effect and demonstrated that the home rearguard was itself far from secure. The aerial route was to serve Dundee well as they took the lead after 16 minutes. Kevin Cuthbert didn’t make decisive enough contact with a corner from the right and as the ball was played back towards goal, Davidson intervened to direct a firm header into the net.
That knocked Accies off their stride and MacDonald might have added a second when Craig Wighton picked him out with Cuthbert off his line, but his lobbed effort was off target.
With the Dens Park side assuming control, it was unfortunate for them that a crowd disturbance, which saw a group of visiting fans surge towards their home counterparts, led to play being suspended for nearly five minutes by match referee Bobby Madden as he waited for order to be restored.
When he got his men in at the interval, Brown probably urged them to serve up the same again. That was more or less what he got with Accies starting all full of urgency and intent, but Dundee digging deep before helping themselves to a second from another corner.
Nicky Riley’s precision delivery saw Gallagher rise unchallenged to send a downward header beyond Cuthbert.
The league leaders may have recovered in remarkable fashion from a two-goal deficit in their previous fixture against Cowdenbeath, but such a dramatic turnaround never looked on the cards yesterday despite plenty of honest application on their part. The door was firmly bolted by a Dundee side who used all their nous to close out the game and added a third right at the end as MacDonald knocked the ball home after a Martin Boyle header had struck the crossbar.
“I didn’t think nil-three was an accurate reflection of how the game went,” contended a disappointed Accies manager Alex Neil. “I thought our approach play was good, but we weren’t clinical enough. We looked like we lacked experience today.”