Ross County 3 - 0 Dundee: Champions prove their point

ROSS County dismantled and demoralised Dundee, their most enduring rivals in the title race, to carve a 20-point advantage at the summit a few days after sealing SPL status.

A 32nd league match unbeaten for the Staggies was a showcase of all that has been good about Derek Adams’ team, from an acrobatic goalkeeping save to defensive solidity, midfield silk and clinical finishing.

A Michael Gardyne double to cap an incisive individual display full of grit and craft took his tally to 15 for the season. Colin McMenamin’s contribution made it 17 for him.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Sign up to our Football newsletter

But it was the whole team ethos and excellence that Adams wanted to praise as supporters celebrated the prospect of top-flight football after 18 years in the Scottish Leagues.

“It was quite fitting the final tune of the day was Simply the Best because we were today – and we have been all season,” Adams said. “We have a team there who showed true grit, determination, passed with style and played a very good Dundee team, full of experienced players, off the park. We scored good goals, and they didn’t have a hope today of dealing with us.

“At the start of the season, I asked for 70 points and we’ve got 72 – 20 ahead. It’s a fantastic return in any division. We want to keep on going, but nobody can take away from the fact that we are the best team in the league. We’ll enjoy the next three games.”

Adams’ men had, reportedly, kept celebratory tipples to a minimum since Wednesday’s victory at Ayr and there was a freshness in their step from the off.

As the last of County’s title rivals to fall, the Dark Blues might have felt they had a point to prove but found the hosts in pumped-up and professional, rather than partying, form.

County’s positive start reaped a goal after only nine minutes. McMenamin was thwarted in possession inside Dundee’s half, but Gardyne took over. The Dundee United-bound attacker snapped up the stray ball and cut a neat swathe through on goal before beating Rab Douglas with great composure.

Dundee almost retaliated after 23 minutes when County full-back Gary Irvine cut inside from the right and unleashed a tremendous left foot effort from 25 yards. Michael Fraser leapt spectacularly, high to his right, to touch the ball for a corner.

After 24 minutes, Gardyne was catalyst again as he fed Iain Vigurs on the left but the midfielder drew the ball inside Irvine before seeing his right foot drive saved low inside the near post by keeper Douglas.

Vigurs set up Rocco Quinn seven or eight yards out before the break but the midfielder stabbed wide.

A scrappier spell ensued in the second half before County surged 2-0 up just after the hour. Paul Lawson unlocked the Dundee defence with a superbly-weighted dink over the top on the right. Vigurs strode on to it and whipped in a cross. McMenamin rose to head home although Irvine may also have made contact as he desperately tried to cover.

Just three minutes later, Gardyne made it 15 goals for the season as he managed a killer front-post touch on a Vigurs cross.

Both teams were reduced to tenmen after 79 minutes after Kevin McBride scythed through the back of Rocco Quinn. Both had already been booked and, after a head-to-head scuffle, both were given their marching orders after each was awarded a second yellow.

A swerving Vigurs free kick cracked the bar with four minutes left, with substitute Sam Morrow almost cutting in the rebound.

Players and fans did the Poznan and “sit down for the champions” routines at the end but there is still the big presentation party to come.

Barry Smith, the Dundee boss, admitted: “We were beaten by the better team today. It was disappointing from our point of view.

“But that’s why they are the champions. Ross County have provided the benchmark with how they have played throughout the season.”