The old main stand at Dens Park creaked in disapproval. A hundred years old this year, it was witnessing something that hadn’t happened in its lifespan – or before.
St Johnstone won a Scottish Cup tie for the first-ever time at Dens Park. Derby rivals or just plain old kind-of-local rivals, that has to hurt. Dundee’s Scottish Cup jinx, dating back to 1910, is extended for another year.
At first it seemed like the most fiercely contested part of this contest was the pre-match back-and-forth between fans and even players with regards to its status. Is it a derby or is it not? Adam raised the temperature by dismissing its relevance to Dundee fans, adding, slightly mischievously, “it’s not as if we’re going in against Rangers or Celtic. It’s St Johnstone. We are confident.”
Such comments set Dundee up for a fall and it duly came, though not before the clash had become a tasty and sometimes controversial cup tie. Manager James McPake was booked for taking his protests too far when a Dundee goal was ruled out in the second half. Clark dropped the ball under pressure and Danny Mullen rolled it into the net, but the far side assistant referee’s flag then went up to indicate offside. There certainly hadn’t seemed much foul play involved in Clark’s failure to hold onto the ball and McPake later complained the official had simply guessed when making the offside call.
Dundee enjoyed something of a let-off in the opening half when Lee Ashcroft looked to have impeded Steven May as he burst through on goal, but referee Craig Napier decided against awarding a penalty.
That might have given St Johnstone an unassailable lead on top of their opener after 20 minutes, when May’s cutback was swept into the far corner by Melamed from the edge of the six-yard box. It was clinical from the striker, who is out of contract this summer. Judging from his long trudge off, complete with multiple shakes of the head, when he was replaced by Chris Kane after 65 minutes, he is not altogether happy with life at McDiarmid Park.
The tie remained finely poised and when Clark wiped out Mullen after coming out to punch a through ball, Dundee had the perfect opportunity to equalise – and the seemingly ideal man.
Adam is normally lethal enough from outside the box, so the odds seemed stacked against Clark as he prepared for whatever the midfielder could unleash from 12 yards with 15 minutes left.
The St Johnstone goalkeeper not only chose to dive the right way, but he also got a touch to the ball, taking it onto the post. The ball then rebounded into the grateful keeper’s arms. It was a decent strike from Adam, though one wonders what Jason Cummings was thinking. The former Hibs striker was brought on minutes earlier and scored Dundee’s last penalty, against Hearts. He was itching for a shot but, on this occasion, had to bow to seniority.