There are ways of exiting a cup competition. Dundee seemed to beg Stephen Dobbie to deepen their Scottish Cup torment. As everyone now knows, he does not require an invitation to score.
The striker netted a hat-trick and was aided and abetted in this feat by a Dundee defence which laid two of the goals on a plate for him.
Confirmation that another year has passed in which Dundee will not be winning the Scottish Cup is hardly headline news. After all, they have not lifted the trophy since 1910. But this was a form of self-sabotage combined with meek surrender that made it seem plausible they might never win it again.
Queen of the South’s recent Scottish Cup record is far more laudable. They reached the final 11 years ago and remain on course to repeat the feat. Aberdeen, whom they defeated inthe semi-final in 2008, stand in the way of a place in the last eight. It is a mighty task, particularly since Pittodrie is the venue. But, with a goalscoring phenomenon such as Dobbie in the side, anything is possible.
He scored his 35th, 36th and 37th goals of another prodigious season last night to knock Dundee out of a cup they seemed determined to exit in any case. The last two were the sort of gifts no-one, least of all Dobbie, is going to turn down.
Dundee were sent on their way by a moment of magic by the veteran striker after only 13 minutes. Dundee goalkeeper Seny Dieng has arrived on loan from Queens Park Rangers but grew up in Switzerland. Perhaps that provides a slim excuse not to be aware of Dobbie’s talents. But then he did concede the first goal of his nascent Dundee career to Dobbie at Dens Park in the first tie 11 days ago.
That was from a lot closer in. Even when Dobbie looks to be in a seemingly non-threatening position he can spell danger. The striker drifted inside from the right flank after receiving a pass from Lyndon Dykes but there were still at least 25 yards between him and the goal. Most strikers might have thought twice about shooting, even though Dieng’s positioning invited the possibility. Dobbie didn’t need to be asked twice. He struck the ball as true as ever and it sailed over Dieng’s head into the net.
The striker warrants all the admiration he gets. That he is still doing all this at 36 makes it all seem more remarkable. Kenny Miller is a useful comparison and is perhaps the player who best rivals Dobbie in terms of longevity. But the 39-year-old Miller had to bow to his near contemporary last night. “You’re just a sh*te Stephen Dobbie,” taunted the Queens supporters.
Dobbie showcased both sides of his game: the opportunist and the predator. His second underlined his alertness. But there is no question it was gifted to him by Dundee. Ryan Inniss, pictured, scuffed a backpass to his keeper, who compounded the error by seeming to hesitate. This proved fateful with someone like Dobbie around. He nipped in and rolled the ball into the net. There was still more than an hour to play.
The home team could, and perhaps should, have been three goals clear by the interval. A Lyndon Dykes effort from inside his own half threatened to heap fresh embarrassment on Dundee and sparked memories of Ryan McCann’s goal from 80 yards when the same teams last contested a Scottish Cup tie here in the year Queens reached the final.
Dykes’ audacious shot bounced just wide of Dieng’s post. The hosts might also have had a penalty when Andy Dales barged Kyle Jacobs over in the box two minutes before half-time. By then Inniss had already suffered the indignity of being replaced by Fraser Moore, an 18-year-old midfielder. What a difference six days make. A week ago Inniss was lauded for the way he handled Hearts striker David Vanecek. He dominated him to the extent Vanecek was hauled off after 32 minutes. Inniss did not last so long last night and was taken off after 31 minutes. He has endured a horrible few days after also recklessly conceding the penalty from which Motherwell scored the winning goal at Dens on Saturday.
Centre-half partner Genseric Kusunga ensured Inniss was not the only one soul searching on the long journey home. Another short backpass let Dobbie in to score his third with 16 minutes left. Aberdeen are well warned.