Dundee 2 St Johnstone 1: Hemmings sews up victory

Dundee's Kane Hemming's celebrates scoring his goal. Picture: SNS
Dundee's Kane Hemming's celebrates scoring his goal. Picture: SNS
  • Dundee: McPake (16), Hemmings (39)
  • St Johnstone: MacLean (54)
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Such is football, his team-mates will always steal the limelight at the other end of the field.

But Scott Bain, the Dundee keeper, is turning into their real saviour with his heroics between the sticks.

Bain again played a crucial role for Paul Hartley’s side on their way to securing victory in this hard-fought Tayside derby win over St Johnstone, who caused them a few edgy moments towards the end after striker Steven MacLean had struck soon after the restart at Dens Park.

Leading 1-0 through defender James McPake’s early opener, the hosts had to rely on Bain producing an extraordinary 27th minute save from Saints’ on-form striker Graham Cummins to keep their noses in front before Kane Hemmings gave them some breathing space with their second goal six minutes before the break.

It came just days after former Alloa No1 Bain pulled off a save dubbed “world-class” by Hartley after the keeper defied Dundee United substitute Simon Murray with a fingertip injury-time save in the derby fixture.

Now Hartley believes Bain is in contention for a place in Gordon Strachan’s Scotland squad ahead of next month’s crucial Euro 2016 qualifying double-header with Georgia and Germany, after injury forced him to pull out of his first Scotland squad back in May for the matches with Qatar and Republic of Ireland.

“It was a terrific save,” said Hartley afterwards. “Scott’s in top form for us. Hopefully he’s got a chance with Scotland. He missed out on the last one when he was unfortunate with an injury. I’m sure everybody knows about him now and the national manager does too.”

Michael O’Halloran looked in the mood for the Perth visitors early on but it was the home team who took the lead in 16 minutes. Nicky Low’s flighted corner was met by McPake and the big defender hooked his first-time left-foot volley high into the net past helpless Alan Mannus for his second goal in as many games.

As half-time approached, Bain came to the fore yet again. Liam Craig dinked a ball over the top of the home defence for Cummins, whose first-time lob looked net-bound, until Bain sprang full length to fingertip his attempt over the bar.

Soon after that, Dundee broke to the other end to go further ahead.

Chris Millar’s misplaced pass was seized upon by Low, who raced down the left and crossed for Hemmings who did brilliantly to send his downward header back across Mannus and into the corner. It was former Barnsley striker Hemmings’ second goal in the space of a week, having hit the target in the previous weekend’s defeat by Hearts.

“I’m delighted to score again,” said Hemmings. “It’s been a really good start to my Dundee career.

“The service I’m getting from the lads is first-class and long may that continue. We like to play good football and that’s what can make it easier for strikers like myself.”

St Johnstone knew they needed the next goal to have any chance, and they had one disallowed within a minute of the restart when Craig knocked the ball past Bain, but MacLean was penalised for a push on Ross. They weren’t to be denied, though, in 52 minutes.

O’Halloran went on one of his mazy runs before crossing into the middle where MacLean was lurking. His cross took a deflection and spun up in the air for MacLean to stab home his finish from inside the six-yard box to give the Perth outfit some hope.

Saints appealed for a penalty in the final minute when Brian Easton appeared to have his jersey tugged by Dundee substitute Thomas Konrad, leaving McDiarmid Park boss Tommy Wright to feel his team were hard done by on the day.

“The second goal is criminal from us,” said Wright. “It’s from our corner and we get caught on the counter-attack.

“I thought we deserved something and why the goal was chopped off I don’t know. And we should have had a penalty in the last minute when Brian’s jersey is pulled inside the box. When you combine decisions going against us and individual errors, that’s why we’ve ended up with nothing.”

Dundee: Bain; McGinn, McPake (Konrad 63), Extabeguren, Holt; Low (Meggatt 72), Ross, McGowan, Harkins; Stewart, Hemmings (Tankulic 78).

St Johnstone: Mannus; Shaughnessy, MacKay, Scobbie, Easton; Millar, Davidson, Craig (Lappin 60), MacLean (Kane 78); Cummins (Sutton 69), O’Halloran.

Referee: Kevin Clancy.

Attendance: 6,176.