Simon Murray’s first goals in dark blue gave the Dee a massively important 2-1 win over Partick Thistle in a tense battle at Firhill. With seven minutes left to play a Dundee win was an unlikely dream but Murray’s two late goals thrilled the healthy travelling support. Connor Sammon had given the Jags a deserved half time lead, but the home side couldn’t hold out when the Dark Blues turned the screw late on.
Josh Meeking and Cammy Kerr returned to the Dark Blues’ starting line-up with Darren O’Dea moving onto the bench and Genseric Kusunga injured. Thistle made five changes, bringing in Dumbuya, Keown, Osman, Storey and Sammon in the place of McGinn, Devine, Barton, Spittal and Doolan.
Thistle started with far greater purpose and maintained their supremacy for the rest of the first half. The Jags energy and movement in midfield gave them the edge against a Dundee team who looked short of confidence after Tuesday’s late collapse.
Roarie Deacon managed the game’s first shot on target, a 22 yard effort that Cerny beat away. After that the Dee failed to worry the home defence for half an hour. Dundee’s midfield was struggling to get into the game, with passes going astray and possession wasted needlessly.
As Thistle turned on the pressure Josh Meekings made a goal-saving tackle on Connor Sammon who looked on the point of scoring. A cross by Storey was diverted into the path of Martin Woods, who should have done better than send the ball weakly into the grateful arms of Elliott Parish. Full back Callum Booth had the next chance, but took too long and his shot was blocked. Booth then slipped up in defence, allowing Mark O’Hara to run in on goal from the right, but the midfielder failed to find the unmarked Sofien Moussa, sending the ball straight at Cerny.
It was no surprise when Thistle took a deserved lead four minutes from the interval. Dumbuya’s cross was knocked down by Edwards, setting up a simple chance for Connor SAMMON who bundled the ball over the line from close range.
A big improvement was needed from the Dee in the second half, and though still misfiring they were at least more successful at stopping Thistle playing. The Jags couldn’t reassert their first half dominance in a largely scrappy second period. As the game dragged on and Dundee remained in contention Thistle became increasingly nervous, as Dundee began to create space in midfield and build more promising attacks.
Simon Murray shot wide after chasing a Moussa overhead kick that was drifting wide. However, it was the Jags who had a better chance when Erskine spun on a cross and shot from eight yards, only for Parish to keep the Dark Blues in the game with an outstretched leg.
The pressure on Thistle’s rearguard started to wind up, and Simon Murray shot over the bar after a good build up with Paul McGowan. Midway through the second half A-Jay Leitch-Smith came on for Sofien Moussa, and the change injected greater purpose into Dundee’s attacks.
With 10 minutes to go Jesse Curran came on for Roarie Deacon. Almost immediately O’Hara went close with a deflected shot that looped beyond Cerny but dropped over the bar.
At last on 84 minutes the equaliser arrived. Leitch-Smith teed up Murray to shoot from 18 yards, only for Cerny to save superbly. Dundee picked up the loose ball to keep the attack going and Aurtenetxe fed the ball into the penalty box for Leitch-Smith to screw a shot across goal. It was heading wide but Simon MURRAY raced after it to turn the ball in at the far post before racing across to celebrate in front of his mates in the away support.
Thistle substitute Blair Spittal went close with a long range shot, but the impetus was now firmly with the Dark Blues who were chasing a win with serious intent. The game had turned around completely and only one team looked like winning. Murray turned the ball into the net from an offside position, and with two minutes left Leitch-Smith turned on the edge of the six yard box and shot against the post.
As the match was ticking over into injury time Simon Murray sent the Dees in the away stand into delirium. A corner produced a frantic goalmouth scramble in which Mark O’Hara and Steven Caulker had shots blocked before MURRAY settled the match by coolly nodding the ball past the flailing bodies on the line.
Thistle were broken and Dundee had no trouble seeing out injury time for a win that is as welcome as it is important after the disappointment at Kilmarnock in midweek. Dundee were far from their best today, but they kept plugging away in the second half, turning the tide emphatically in a game that the Jags looked set to win. Again, with the match level in the closing stages Dundee threw themselves at the opposition to try and force a win. It has backfired at times, notably at this ground in October and on Tuesday night, but Dundee’s aggressive spirit paid off handsomely today. It wasn’t classy or elegant, but the delighted fans heading home tonight will not be worrying about that.
Partick Thistle 4-2-3-1
Dumbuya, Keown, Cargill, Booth
Erskine (Spittal 69), Edwards, Storey (Doolan 80)
Unused subs: Scully (gk), Lawless, Barton, Devine, Penrice.
Goal: Sammon (41).
Dundee FC 4-2-3-1
Kerr (c), Meekings, Caulker, Aurtenetxe
Deacon (Curran 80), McGowan, Murray
Moussa (Leitch-Smith 66)
Unused subs: Malherbe (gk), O’Dea, El Bakhtaoui, Lambert.
Goals: Murray (84, 90)
Attendance: 4,267 (729 Dees).
Referee: Willie Collum. Assistants: David McGeachie, Frank Connor. 4th official: Steven Kirkland.
Report: James Christie.