Ross County’s postponed game against Hibs had already removed an element of risk from Dundee falling to the bottom of the table this weekend, but casual observers would never have known the side in bright blue were on the back of six defeats in ten, a run that has seen the gap at the foot of the table shrink – particularly so after a heavy midweek hammering by bottom side County.
James McPake challenged his side to use that 5-0 defeat as motivation, yet it seemed to relax Dundee – well it couldn’t get much worse, could it?
It couldn’t and wouldn’t.
They’re still second from bottom, but the visiting side played with a freedom in Paisley which responded if not forcefully, certainly confidently to their recent results and recorded their first away win of the season.
Max Anderson tucked in what proved to be the match-winner after 11 minutes – and seconds after Adam Legzdins, the Dundee goalkeeper, had denied the home side the opener. His side responded, to both the save and in turn to Wednesday night’s mauling, by racing up the park and a flowing move involving Charlie Adam and Paul McMullan later, they were ahead – seconds after Marcus Fraser’s header could have opened the floodgates again.
Indeed, it could have gone the other way. A minute later, former Saints forward Paul McGowan had rounded Jak Alnwick and cut back for the second, only for the Saints defence to scramble the ball away from the line.
Pressure? What pressure?
It wasn’t all one-way traffic though and Ryan Flynn’s bursts from midfield were soon countered by Charlie Adam but a corner from one such, swirled onto the crossbar from Scott Tanser and threatened to equalise. It might have been justified by the early exchanges but Dundee held firm.
The first half had been straightforward but all eyes turned on John Beaton after 52 minutes when Ryan Sweeney slid in on Eamonn Brophy in the box. The referee, subject of midweek penalty scrutiny which has prompted further discussion of introducing VAR, dismissed the hopeful appeals of the home side and support though they continued to exert pressure in search of an equaliser.
Adam could have extended the lead with a floating free-kick that Alnwick lost sight of in the air, but slapped out for a corner and Legzdins was also required in the second half to palm a shot on the spin from substitute Kristian Dennis out for a corner, but the success did come at a cost.
Stricken Cillian Sheridan was carried off shortly before the hour after stretching for a quick throw-in by Luke McCowan. With Alnwick out of his area conceding the throw, Sheridan would have had a clear strike to send Dundee two ahead, but fell holding his left knee and was replaced by Danny Mullen.
The striker had led the line well, engaged always with impressive home captain Joe Shaughnessy, but forced his manager into another formation tweak for the final half-hour when St Mirren put Dundee under increasing pressure for an equaliser, but the visitors hung on to ease it, just a little, with a welcome away win.