MANAGER Paul Hartley saluted Dundee for giving their long-suffering fans something to remember after the Dens Park side earned a first derby victory for over a decade last night.
Paul Hefferan’s first goal for the club secured a 3-1 win that lifts Dundee into the top six and means they can guarantee finishing in the top half of the league on Saturday with a victory over St Johnstone. But it was a cherished win over their fiercest rivals that delighted Hartley, who has been on the losing side three times against United this season. Goals from Greg Stewart, James McPake and Heffernan saw Dundee take the points at Dens with Nadir Ciftci’s penalty briefly drawing United level in the 14th minute.
Not since John Sutton’s winner at Dens Park in November 2004 have Dundee tasted victory over United. Last night’s reversal confirmed a slump in form for Jackie McNamara’s side, who have now not won in ten games.
McNamara bemoaned the misfortune that saw goalkeeper Radoslaw Cierzniak allow a weak shot from Stewart slip through his legs for Dundee’s first goal. However, Hartley praised his players for responding to the 6-2 defeat by United on New Year’s Day in such determined fashion. He said: “The fans will remember this, a 3-1 scoreline, under the lights.
“The feeling was terrible in January. It was my lowest ebb as a manager but it’s a fantastic feeling to get a derby win and get the monkey off the back. Our aim is to stay there now we are in the top six. Our fans should enjoy this now.”
Hartley singled out Heffernan, a surprise starter for Dundee. “Heff looked sharp in training,” he said. “He led the line brilliantly and got a great goal.”
McNamara was despondent, arguing that Dundee’s first two goals had been soft ones to lose. “It is difficult when you give away basic goals,” he said.
Celtic manager Ronny Deila heaped praise on stand-in captain Stefan Johansen after a 2-0 victory over Partick Thistle that edges his side closer to the title. The Norwegian, deputising for the suspended Scott Brown, netted Celtic’s second after Kris Commons had put them ahead with a penalty that also brought the dismissal of Thistle defender James Craigen.
Deila said: “Stefan is a good and important player for us and deserved to be captain. He works very hard and he communicates well with his team-mates. He has had a good season all along but he is improving all the time.”
Thistle manager Alan Archibald had no complaints about Craigen’s straight red card which contributed to a loss that has further dragged the Maryhill side into a the play-off battle. Archibald said: “I’ve not watched it back yet but at the time I thought it was a penalty.”
Second-placed Aberdeen beat the team in third, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, 1-0 at Pittodrie thanks to an Ash Taylor goal.
In the Championship, Hibernian secured a vital away win over Dumbarton in the battle for the promotion play-off places. A goal from Jason Cummings rescued the points for Hibs after Mitch Megginson had cancelled out Paul Hanlon’s opener. Falkirk suffered a huge blow to their play-off hopes when they lost 2-1 at Livingston. Champions Hearts continued their fine season with a 3-0 home win over Alloa, while Cowdenbeath won the Fife derby against Raith Rovers 3-1 at Stark’s Park.
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