Neil McCann hails match-winner A-Jay Leitch-Smith

Praise: Match-winner A-Jay Leitch-Smith. Picture: SNS GroupPraise: Match-winner A-Jay Leitch-Smith. Picture: SNS Group
Praise: Match-winner A-Jay Leitch-Smith. Picture: SNS Group
Neil McCann praised the impact of A-Jay Leitch-Smith after two goals on his full debut gave Dundee a first win of the season.

Leitch-Smith hit a brace before a chaotic final ten minutes saw Liam Craig score twice from the spot for St Johnstone, while Sofien Moussa also netted a penalty and Darren O’Dea was sent off in a 3-2 win for McCann’s side.

It was a welcome impact from the striker, who joined the club on loan from Shrewsbury on deadline day, as Dundee got their first victory of the campaign against a strong Saints side.

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McCann said: “Brilliant, delighted. We have created chances this year and not taken them at times. It was a poacher’s goal at first and a real clinical finish for the second. We’re happy with his day’s work.”

Leitch-Smith, pictured, prodded home the opener on nine minutes and smashed a fine volley into the net midway through the second half to give the hosts some breathing space.

The game burst into life late on. Craig gave Saints hope by scoring from the penalty spot after Graham Cummins was felled by an onrushing Scott Bain, but Moussa scored a penalty of his own almost immediately when Leitch-Smith was floored in the box at the other end. Dundee captain O’Dea was then shown red after hauling down Steven Anderson inside the area and Craig converted the third spot-kick of a dramatic match.

Dundee had just one point going into the match but climbed off the bottom of the table by taking all three here.

“I said during the week that our performances during the season have not given us the rewards I think we deserve at times,” added McCann.

“I challenged the boys [on Saturday]. I’ll take the panic, I’ll take the stick and the pressure from the fans if we’re not winning matches as long as they keep believe in what we’re doing in training.

“In defeat it’s important to learn things about yourself and identify where you went wrong within that game and put the work in on the training ground. We had a brilliant week and really nailed down the things we wanted to.”

Saints manager Tommy Wright was left fuming with the decision to disallow a goal from Anderson shortly before Dundee scored their penalty.

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However, he admitted poor defending for the opening two goals – including a howler from goalkeeper Alan Mannus – left the visitors with no complaints from the result.

“I think we have to look at ourselves,” he said. “We gave them two goals. A shocker from us. We should deal with the first and the second should have been a better header.

“They’re two preventable goals, [but] we showed character to get back into it and it changed the game.”