How Dundee served up fitting tribute to Doug Cowie as Motherwell hex is broken

It had to happen sooner or later. Dundee finally got the better of Motherwell in a league fixture and they could not have picked a better afternoon to do so.

Luke McCowan celebrates after scoring to make it 1-0 to Dundee.
Luke McCowan celebrates after scoring to make it 1-0 to Dundee.

The Dens Park side produced a commanding performance on the day tributes were paid to 24-carat club legend Doug Cowie, whose death at the age of 95 was announced hours before kick-off.

The sad news represented the severing of a link to Dundee’s back-to-back League Cup wins of 1951 and 1952 when they became the first team to successfully defend the trophy.

Cowie’s time at the club was notable for so much more.

Dundee legend Doug Cowie passed away at the age of 95.

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He played 446 competitive games for Dundee – a club record – and lived out his days in a house near the ground. He died in Ninewells on Friday. Gone, also, is a last link to Scotland’s World Cup teams from 1954 and 1958. Cowie appeared in both finals.

The football seemed slightly incidental, but Dundee secured a precious three points. It allows them to start looking upwards in the table though they remain second bottom.

The minute’s silence was impeccably observed though that was always going to be the case. A hush fell upon an old Dens Park stand that pre-dates Cowie, though only just. Opened in 1921, it is now 100 – just five years older than Cowie, who really did see it all in dark blue for club and country.

Motherwell were swept aside on a tide of emotion as Dundee stemmed a series of eight consecutive league defeats against the Fir Park side, one of the worst runs in the club’s history against a non-Old Firm team. Goals from Luke McCowan, Danny Mullen and Ryan Sweeney had Dundee three up by the 50-minute mark. Half-time substitute Kevin Van Veen hit the post for Motherwell two minutes after the break. Such was the nature of their surprisingly feckless performance, it’s possible to wonder whether Motherwell were capable of staging a comeback even if the striker’s effort found the net.

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Dundee's player honour Cowie with a minute's silence.

Van Veen was the player penalised for the clumsy challenge on McMullan that led to Dundee’s third goal after 49 minutes.

Dundee upped the ante after a cagey opening ten minutes. Paul McMullan and Mullen both went close before Luke McCowan made the breakthrough after 19 minutes. Charlie Adam linked well with McCowan down the left before the former Ayr United man fed Jordan Marshall. His cross was cleared only as far as McCowan, who dragged the ball away from goal before angling a left-foot shot past Kelly into the corner.

A Lee Ashcroft header was tipped over by the ‘keeper before Dundee stretched their lead after 27 minutes. Following a sustained period of Dundee pressure, Adam funnelled the ball out to the right and McCowan inadvertently or otherwise placed it in Mullen’s path. The striker, who won man of the match, took a touch before rifling a shot towards goal. The ball squeezed past Kelly and despite the keeper’s attempted intervention, the ball had enough pace to cross the line. Dundee’s third was prodded over by Sweeney after Adam’s free-kick was played back across goal by Ashcroft.

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While it’s tempting to point out that it’s amazing what effect the resolution of a bonus dispute can have, this victory appeared to be all about Cowie – and rightly so.