ALTHOUGH it was a last-gasp equaliser from defender-turned-auxiliary striker James McPake which earned Dundee a share of the points, Paul Hartley hailed Scott Bain’s save from Simon Murray as the turning point in a pulsating end to last night’s Dundee derby.
The Dundee manager was sent to the stand for leaving his technical area after McPake’s equaliser in the dying seconds to make it 2-2. A double from Blair Spittal in just three second-half minutes looked to have secured Dundee United all three points after they had been on the back foot for most of the first-half.
Dundee scored twice in the last eight minutes to claim a point, with Greg Stewart sparking the comeback with a trademark curled effort into the top corner with eight minutes left.
But Hartley focused on Bain’s save after the goalkeeper had somehow touched an effort from Murray, a boyhood Dundee fan, on to the bar just before the away side grabbed their equaliser through McPake, after Gary Harkins’ drive was spilled by United keeper Luis Zwick.
“It was a world-class save, simple as that,” said Hartley afterwards. “He’s produced it before. But that was better than the one against Aberdeen last season in the cup game.
“At 2-0 down last year we would probably have lost that game but it showed you the spirit from the team, the desire and the determination. But I felt in the first-half we were by far the better team, we created numerous opportunities. It was a wee bit like Saturday [against Hearts] all over again.”
While Hartley enthused about Bain’s save and Dundee’s late, late comeback, he was not so enamoured with referee John Beaton and fourth official Craig Charleston.
The Dundee manager was sent to the stand for excessively celebrating Dundee’s equalier although the full-time whistle had sounded before he’d found a new seat.
“I was sent off at the end because I left my technical area,” he said. “The ref said it was the rules so he’d have to send me off. It was the fourth official who reported me. Are they killjoys? Yes. It was the dying seconds, getting a goal like that I got a bit excited. It’s a bad day when you can’t celebrate a goal. They are taking the joy out of football.”
Dundee’s comeback certainly took the joy out of the evening for United manager Jackie McNamara, who admitted the result felt like a defeat. “I think in the first half they were the better side and our keeper [Zwick] had a couple of good saves,” he said. “We had to do better and in the second-half I thought we were excellent. We scored two but it could have been more.
“There was a great save off their goalie to push Simon Murray’s shot on to the bar. He had put it in the corner and done everything right.”