Dundee 1 - 0 Inverness: Danny Johnson delivers on dream debut
Johnson wasted no time in making himself an instant favourite among the Dens Park faithful as his 33rd-minute strike sealed a mouth-watering home tie with Aberdeen in the next round as John Robertson’s Inverness tumbled out on Tayside.
It was a memorable day for the former Cardiff City and Tranmere Rovers player who had only joined from Premiership outfit Motherwell 48 hours earlier.
And manager McPake, who’s side kick off their Championship campaign away to Dunfermline on Friday night, hailed his latest summer recruit who lapped up his first goal in a Dundee jersey.
“I thought Danny was great,” smiled McPake. “He’s a great addition and I’ve played with a lot of good strikers. If you had asked Danny beforehand what the ideal scenario would have been beforehand, he would have said a 1-0 win and him scoring the winner.”
For Inverness, former Dundee midfielder James Vincent was patrolling the visitors’ midfield while ex-Dundee United striker James Keatings started up front.
Neither side lacked any incentive knowing a victory would secure qualification, and it was the hosts who began brightest. Jordan Marshall’s deep cross was aimed at Shaun Byrne arriving at the far post, but the ex-Livingston midfielder’s first touch wasn’t the best so the chance went abegging. Soon after, Johnson almost grabbed his first goal for his new club with a dipping ninth-minute drive which Mark Ridgers did well to tip over at the expense of a corner.
The Highlanders weren’t content to just sit back, though, and in ten minutes Keatings saw his low left-foot shot spilled by Jack Hamilton, before the rebound was hooked away to safety.
Then, a minute later, Keatings looked almost certain to open the scoring as he stole a yard of space inside the box, but somehow Dundee defender Jordan McGhee foiled him with a well-timed last-gasp challenge.
However, in 23 minutes former Fir Park forward Johnson ought to have given the home team the lead. Strike partner Andrew Nelson had his shot blocked 12-yards from goal and the ball landed perfectly for their new signing. But Johnson snatched at his effort as his left-foot shot flew wide of Ridgers’ goal, much to the frustration of the Dundee support.
Keatings was involved again just before the half-hour mark when his deflected shot was clawed away by Hamilton who saw it late.
However, Johnson made no mistake in 33 minutes. Byrne’s reverse pass was sublime and the 26-year-old beat Ridgers low to his near post with a low drive.
Dundee remained on top after the break. In 58 minutes, Paul McGowan went on a mazy run before poking his finish just past the post.
With less than 20 minutes left, Marshall delivered for Byrne who couldn’t apply the finishing touch, before substitute Josh Todd fired over deep into injury-time.
“I think it was probably a fair result,” conceded Inverness manager Robertson.
“I didn’t think there was much in the first half and the goal was disappointing. You would expect Mark to save that. But our qualification wasn’t lost here. The damage was done at Peterhead and we failed to take this opportunity to rectify things.”