DUNDEE hit back from a goal down to stretch their unbeaten run to five games in the Scottish Premiership with a 2-1 victory over St Mirren in Paisley.
Scorers: St Mirren - McLean (40); Dundee - Irvine (53), Davidson (69)
Kenny McLean put the home side ahead with a great strike before half-time, but Gary Irvine hauled Dundee level against the run of play shortly after the break.
The visitors improved in the second period, and Iain Davidson got the decisive goal via a deflection before St Mirren were reduced to 10 men late on with the dismissal of Yoann Arquin.
The result saw the hosts remain in the relegation play-off position.
St Mirren had shown some signs of improvement in recent matches, and they started the game at a frenetic pace, creating two decent chances for Arquin within the first few minutes.
First, Stevie Mallan’s delightful inswinging delivery from a free-kick was flicked on target by the head of the frontman, forcing a smart save low down on the line by Scott Bain.
Then Arquin, who was free to face Dundee after having his red card against Ross County downgraded to yellow on appeal during the week, passed up an even better opportunity, after he was picked out at the back post in acres of space by Mallan but guided his side-foot volley too close to Bain, who produced another good save with his feet.
It took fully 25 minutes for Dundee to threaten, but they had a great chance to open the scoring after Gary Harkins had shown good determination to win the ball from Lewis McLear and win a corner. The playmaker took the kick himself, finding James McPake unmarked on the penalty spot, but the centre-half could only head meekly into the arms of Mark Ridgers.
The visitors were too often slack in possession in the first half, with Greg Stewart and Harkins struggling to make the ball stick in advanced areas and simple passes too often going astray. St Mirren maintained the upper hand, and they took a deserved lead in the 39th minute.
Mallan, who had been at the centre of everything positive for the home side, fed a lovely ball through the midfield to find McLean 25 yards from goal. McLean had time to turn before advancing a few yards and crashing a brilliant left-foot strike past Bain into the bottom-left corner for his second goal against a side from the City of Discovery in a matter of days.
The goal seemed to awaken Dundee from their slumber, and they almost hit back immediately, Harkins’ curling effort looking destined for the top corner before the intervention of Ridgers with a wonderful right-handed save, preserving the Buddies’ slender but well-earned advantage at the break.
The hosts started the second half in a similar fashion to the first - on the front foot - and McPake almost put through his own net from McLean’s pull-back from the byline. From the resulting corner, McLean found a yard of space and perhaps should have done better than head narrowly over.
Then, from out of nowhere, Dundee produced perhaps the best passage of play of the entire match to draw level in the 52nd minute. A wonderful one-touch passing move saw Paul McGowan flick the ball through for Stewart, who drew Ridgers before squaring to right-back Gary Irvine all on his own in the six-yard area to tap into the empty net for his fourth goal of the season.
Suddenly, it was St Mirren who were looking the less sure-footed, and Dundee took the lead after 68 minutes. Stewart’s free-kick was headed back to him by McLean, allowing Stewart to advance on goal and ride a couple of challenges before feeding Davidson just inside the area. The midfielder turned and got a shot away which looped up off of the outstretched leg of the luckless Marc McAusland and over Ridgers into the net.
St Mirren should have been level five minutes later, Jason Naismith whipping in a delightful ball that found McLean unmarked in the centre of goal, but again the midfielder was off the mark with his header and the ball skewed over the bar.
Then came the game’s moment of controversy, as the home side were reduced to 10 men after 80 minutes. Kevin Thomson gave the ball away carelessly to John McGinn, who fed Arquin inside the box. The frontman, who had earlier been cautioned for showing his studs in midfield, went down too easily for referee Steven McLean’s liking as he cut inside and he was shown his second yellow card.
There was a lengthy stoppage as goal hero Davidson received a nasty-looking injury late on, resulting in six minutes of added time, but the 10 men of St Mirren could find no way back to ease their relegation worries.