It is likely to forever be the way of it for Simon Murray. With his scampering, scuffing and slashes in front of goal he can have afternoons when he seems an ugly duckling of a striker. Only to end those same afternoons with the bearing of a swan.
He effected that transformation, both for himself and a Dundee team now eighth, in the space of the final six minutes of normal time yesterday. It was inexplicable how impoverished the efforts of the Dens Park men proved over a first period wherein a Conor Sammon goal was scant reflection of Partick Thistle’s superiority. It was then inexcusable that the home team could not hold on to an advantage they held until the 84th minute - even allowing for the vast improvement in Neil McCann’s side in between.
The pressure they applied going forward meant Hibernian on-loan striker Murray having chances. And missing. Not once, not twice, but three times before he skited in at the back post to knock in an A-Jay Leitch-Smith cross for a first goal in the colours of his boyhood club Dundee.
In the final seconds of normal time, the redemption among the noisy and numerous travelling support for a player who oddily seemed to enjoy sticking to his own team as a Dundee United forward was complete after a corner broke to the hulking Steven Caulker. He battered in a shot from close range that was blocked on the line and then bundled in by Murray, pictured, for a winner. It was a clincher that wiped away both bitter memories from earlier in the encounter, and from the loss at Kilmarnock on Tuesday night when a 2-1 lead was surrendered against 10 men with quarter of an hour remaining.
“He’s one of our own” chanted the Dundee faithful. A chorus that did not wash over the likeable and, by his own admission, often over-thinking forward. “It’s pretty emotional, like, because I came from Dundee and stuff like that,” Murray said. “It’s a good feeling. To get back to your team, obviously coming from Dundee United there might have been a wee bit of a thingy. The way I look at it is if I do well and score goals and give 100 per cent there is nothing they can’t like.
“My mates were in a 50-seater bus down here today. They’ll go home happy. I’m happy we won because I was probably getting a bit of abuse through text messages and whatever. They’ll enjoy it and I enjoyed it but I’m not getting carried away though I know it was a massive win.
“If your getting those chances and not scored for a few weeks you maybe try too hard to get the goal, sometimes you need that wee lucky goal that I maybe got. I’m not sure if I was offside but I’m not caring. It wasn’t the best of goals but I’ll take it. I probably was thinking too much. I don’t know if you seen it but the gaffer just turned to me and told me to calm down. So I did, and I got two goals so maybe I’ll listen to him next week as well. That’s what I need, someone to put their arm around us, and just calm down and go. I know he believes in me and that’s something I need.”
Alan Archibald will require to put arms around shoulders among his Thistle squad after the failure to capitalise on Sammon’s seventh goal in seven games, who nipped in to put away a ball bouncing across the six-yard area just before half-time. “I thought we merited the victory up to the 84th minute,” said the Maryhill club’s manager. “We controlled the first half and I thought we deserved to get in with a one goal lead. We had a lot of good play and should have seen the game out, there’s no doubt about that.
“We had chances to put the game out of sight, we had some good patterns of play but it’s about the result. We had a great chance to make it 2-0 but their keeper made a brilliant save. If it had gone to two then it was game over. Now we have to lick our wounds.”