DUNDEE have won only four away games all season.
They’ve lost at League One Dunfermline, drawn at part-time Championship side Dumbarton and yet, for reasons known only to the universe, they’ve won on all three trips to the Firhill Stadium. Don’t be surprised if they petition the SFA to have their home ground moved to Maryhill for next season.
On this occasion it was Kane Hemmings doing the damage as the away side emerged victorious from their first post-split fixture. The striker netted in both halves to take his tally to 25 for the season, earning plaudits from his delighted manager after full-time.
“Strikers are hard to come by and he’s been phenomenal for us,” said Paul Hartley. “Playing for a team that’s middle of the road, as we are, that’s a brilliant return from him. He’s also got his team-mates to thank for that”
Thistle had a lot of the ball throughout the 90 minutes, but while they played with a relaxed end-of-season tempo until the closing half hour, Dundee always showed purpose on the break. They created numerous excellent opportunities in addition to the two goals and will rightly feel they were worth the win, even if Thistle had the majority of possession.
The two sides traded blows in the opening 20 minutes as each went close to opening the scoring. Ryan Edwards was denied by advancing Dundee keeper Scott Bain shortly before Gary Harkins sliced his shot well wide of goal at the other end.
Bain was called into action once more, blocking Adam Nesbitt’s front post shot, a minute before his side broke the deadlock. Paul McGinn’s low cross from the right found Hemmings alone in the six-yard area and he finished off the underside of the crossbar. The striker then celebrated with exaggerated enthusiasm in front of the grassy hill, populated by one cameraman atop a couple of rows of scaffolding, behind the Thistle goal.
Bain made a fingertip stop to deny Kris Doolan five minutes after the restart and Greg Stewart passed up a couple of chances to extend the lead. First, Ryan Scully saved his close-range flick, then he dallied on an effort 18 yards out, allowing Liam Lindsay to charge down the eventual shot.
It appeared those misses would come back to haunt Dundee when Abdul Osman, in an unfamiliar position on the left wing, crossed for Kris Doolan to head Thistle level. There looked like there would be only one winner from that point with Thistle throwing bodies forward. However, after finding their composure, Dundee created three chances in as many minutes, the last of which won them the game. Stewart sent a shot wide after being teed up by Hemmings. Then, after Hemmings was denied by Scully, Stewart returned the favour with a curled pass around the defence for his team-mate to charge through. This time Hemmings made no mistake, passing the ball beyond Scully.