Dundee 0 - 1 Hamilton: Dark Blues relegated as Accies edge closer to safety

Dundee's Kenny Miller looks dejected as Dundee are relegated. Pic: SNS/Rob CaseyDundee's Kenny Miller looks dejected as Dundee are relegated. Pic: SNS/Rob Casey
Dundee's Kenny Miller looks dejected as Dundee are relegated. Pic: SNS/Rob Casey

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This is how it ends, with a whimper. The Dens-ouement arrived where Dundee least wanted it. At home, in front of a sparse crowd and just three years after they relegated Dundee United at a packed Dens Park.

But Dundee have conspicuously failed to kick on since that evening. There’s no point waiting for others to do you a favour if you can’t even help yourself. Motherwell were doing what Dundee hoped and were beating St Mirren but Jim McIntyre’s side conceded a sloppy penalty and practically relegated themselves.

Tony Andreu had to apply the finish from the spot and did so with ease to score his first goal since the first day of the season – for Coventry City. It was at the same end where, a year ago tomorrow, Dougie Imrie missed a penalty to keep Hamilton in the relegation mix and all but save the Dens Park side, who secured a 1-0 win that afternoon.

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That scoreline was reversed here to send Dundee into the Championship. Imrie, a second-half substitute, was among those celebrating with a joyous band of Hamilton supporters at the end.

It barely registered that St Mirren had equalised late on against Motherwell but Hamilton’s top flight status is in their own hands. They need only a point when 10th plays 11th next Monday night to extend their stay in the top flight for yet another season. It is quite an achievement. In their case, a change in management has had the desired effect.

Brian Rice arrived in January to replace Martin Canning and four wins and four draws in 14 games have re-ignited their season. “It’s in our hands now, it wasn’t always the case but it is in our hands now,” Rice said afterwards.

For Dundee, however, the decision to sack Neil McCann just eight league games in and replace him with McIntyre appears highly questionable. Dundee surrendered their top flight status with a tenth straight league defeat. “Ten-in-a-row, he has to go,” chorused fans at the end.

“I totally understand it,” McIntyre said of the fans’ anger. “They have just watched their team get relegated and we have not offered enough to win the game. I don’t know any support that would be clapping us off the park. It’s not been good enough and, me being at the helm, I take full responsibility.”

He still wants to lead the club back up next season. “Unless I’m told otherwise, that’s exactly what I will be planning,” he said.

Whether he is given the chance remains to be seen. The abjectness of Dundee’s attempt to stem a record-equalling run of league defeats can be summed up by the fact their first shot on target in a second half when they might have been expected to lay siege on the Hamilton goal came in the dying moments and was hit by the boot of a defender, Darren O’Dea.

Dundee had everything to play for. News of Motherwell’s opener was greeted with roars. But while the fans sensed a potential miracle the players were utterly unable to lift themselves.

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There will clearly need to be big changes at Dens Park again following a seventh relegation since reconstruction. Only one player in yesterday’s starting XI is currently contracted for next season – striker Andrew Nelson. The latter was replaced by Kenny Miller after 65 minutes to more jeers from the home fans, who didn’t agree with McIntyre’s decision. Nelson looked the only Dundee player likely to come up with a goal but was culpable for not squaring the ball to the better positioned Craig Curran early in the second half.

This is the story of Dundee’s season; wrong choices, not taking chances and leaving the door open at the back. For a side needing a win to save their season Dundee’s own goalkeeper was remarkably busy. Seny Dieng made a good block from Darian MacKinnon at the end of the first half and did so again from Andreu shortly after the hour mark. Defender James Horsfield, meanwhile, had to react smartly to clear an Aaron McGowan effort off the line.

When Ryan McGowan, one of six on-loan players in the side, threw out a lazy leg after sub Mickel Miller had managed to get on the wrong side of him near the byline with seven minutes left, Dundee’s situation became critical.

Referee Nick Walsh pointed to the spot and Andreu did the necessary to plunge the dagger in. It might be viewed as a mercy killing such has been the extent of Dundee’s slide.

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