Dundee 1
Heart of Midlothian 0
League (Premier League)

1 - 0

League (Premier League)
Saturday, April 27th, 2013
Dens Park
Attendance: 5,896
3:00 PM Kick-off

Ryan Conroy (82)

Team Managers
John Brown
Gary Locke

Starting Eleven
45. Steve Simonsen
17. Kyle Benedictus
26. Brian Easton
18. Declan Gallagher
3. Matt Lockwood
25. Lewis Toshney
6. Iain Davidson
20. Jim McAlister
8. Kevin McBride
10. John Baird
9. Carl Finnigan
Jamie MacDonald .1
Darren Barr .5
Andy Webster .6
Dylan McGowan .19
Kevin McHattie .29
Jamie Hamill .2
Ryan Stevenson .7
Jason Holt .15
John Sutton .9
Jamie Walker .14
Michael Ngoo .21

36. Alex Baird
2. Gary Irvine
11. Ryan Conroy
28. Mark Kerr
7. Nicky Riley
47. Andrew Barrowman
24. Colin Nish
Mark Ridgers .13
Brad McKay .28
Callum Tapping .27
Mehdi Taouil .10
Billy King .32
Dale Carrick .37
Gordon Smith .12

Ryan Conroy for Matt Lockwood (46)
Colin Nish for Iain Davidson (62)
Nicky Riley for John Baird (66)
Mehdi Taouil for Michael Ngoo (32)
Dale Carrick for Jamie Walker (47)
Billy King for Jason Holt (83)

Ryan Conroy (90)
Andy Webster (18)
Andy Webster (28)
Mehdi Taouil (57)
Jamie Hamill (67)

Red Cards
Nicky Riley (89)
Andy Webster (28)
Match Officials

John Beaton (Referee)
Craig Young & Graham McNeillie (Assistants)

Photography by David Young

Match Report

John Brown's battling Dark Blues kept the impossible dream alive for one more week with an agonisingly tense 1-0 victory at home to Hearts today. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't high quality football, but it was a deserved win, thanks to Ryan Conroy's 40 yard free kick after 82 minutes.

A first half red card for Andy Webster allowed Dundee to dominate and their patience was rewarded by the late winner. Nicky Riley picked up a red card, possibly for retaliation after being fouled, but it was far too late to let Hearts back into the match.

The eye-catching change to the Dundee line-up was Carl Finnigan, starting his first match in over a year, in place of the injured Gary Harkins. Apart from that, Dundee fielded the same players who won the two previous games. Finnigan played as the lead striker with Baird playing deeper.

Hearts started more strongly, and had the first shot. Benedictus fouled Holt just outside the penalty area. Hamill's free kick beat the wall, but Simonsen managed to hold the ball.

It took Dundee quarter of an hour to get going, but once they did they stayed on top for the rest of the game. Carl Finnigan's determined pressing unsettled the Hearts' defence, and was key in tilting the match in Dundee's favour. He was warned by the referee that he was in danger of being booked for persistent fouling, and he subsequently kept out of trouble without easing up on his legitimate campaign of harrassment.

Hearts' captain Andy Webster picked up a yellow card for hauling Finnigan down after the striker had hustled him into losing possession. Kyle Benedictus hammered the free kick from 30 yards and Jamie MacDonald did well to turn it over the bar.

Ten minutes later the referee reached for the red card when Webster flattened Finnigan from behind with an aggressive aerial challenge that left both players needing treatment for head knocks. Manager Gary Locke was unhappy afterwards about the decision, claiming that it was an accidental collision of heads. From my angle it didn't look like the head knock was relevant; Webster had simply wiped Finnigan out with his jump from behind, a crazy act for a player who had already been booked.

Dundee were already on top, but the sending off left them firmly in the driving seat. Darren Barr dropped back from midfield into defence, and the ineffective Ngoo was replaced by Mehdi Taouil to shore up the midfield. Hearts settled into two banks of four, sitting deep, with John Sutton left as the lone striker.

The Dark Blues played composed football, knocking the ball around well, but struggling to get through Hearts deep defence. The closest they came to a goal was when Lewis Toshney flashed a 15 yard shot just over following a corner.

John Brown maintained his reputation for decisive changes when he took off Matt Lockwood and sent on Ryan Conroy at half time. Lockwood had been playing well, but Dundee didn't need a covering defender, and they badly needed the sort of dangerous crosses that Conroy can provide.

It nearly paid off immediately when Conroy's pacey, in-swinging corner from the right was met by Easton's head, but his powerful header came crashing back off the crossbar.

The game settled down into a stomach churningly tense affair, with Dundee constantly frustrated in their efforts to break Hearts down, and the visitors making only the occasional tentative foray upfield. If Dundee were struggling to create clear chances, Hearts were struggling just to get a hold of the ball, never mind threaten the Dundee goal.

John Brown made two more changes, with Colin Nish replacing Iain Davidson, then Nicky Riley coming on for John Baird. Nish's arrival gave Dundee an extra aerial option, but Dundee didn't resort to repeated route one assaults.

Ryan Conroy came close with a right footed shot from 25 yards that flew just past the post, but it was a shot with his more favoured left foot from even further out that won the points for the Dee.

When Dundee were awarded a free kick 40 yards out no-one was seriously expecting a shot. Fortunately Ryan CONROY was more optimistic, and oh boy, did it pay off! His shot deflected off Ryan Stevenson and nestled just inside the MacDonald's right hand post with the keeper wrong footed.

The players and supporters celebrated long and hard, but the goal didn't ease the gut-wrenching tension even by a fraction. There were still 8 minutes, plus three minutes injury time to go. Dundee's determination and concentration ensured they saw the game out safely. Stevenson had a fleeting half chance when the ball broke to him on the edge of the area, but his shot through a crowd of players was straight into Simonsen's midriff.

The only late disappointment for Dundee was Nicky Riley's red card at the death. He was fouled near the Hearts corner flag, and there seemed to be a spot of jostling during which the referee Mr Beaton saw something he judged worthy of a straight red for the Dundee winger.

The constantly changing scoreline from Easter Road kept the nervous excitement at boiling point, and when the home fans erupted a few minutes from time it was obvious that Hibs had grabbed a late equaliser against St Mirren that keeps the fight going till next weekend.

Any neutral who'd wandered in from the street to watch the game without knowing the backstory would have thought it a dull, poor affair. For every single Dee around the ground this was a gripping game that they couldn't take their eyes off for a moment. Yet again the players deserve enormous credit for keeping their heads, working furiously, and refusing to settle for anything less than three points. That's the sort of attitude supporters love, and it's to John Brown's credit that he's been able to instill those qualities into the team.

Who'd have thought a few months ago that Dundee would still be alive and refusing to accept relegation as the season moved into May? We might still go down, but the players are ensuring we do it with heads held high.

Match report written by James Christie - Official Dundee website

Squad Statistics (as at April 27th, 2013)

2012-13 All Time
Steve Simonsen (GK)34 5 - 5 -
Kyle Benedictus21 271771
Brian Easton25 18 - 18 -
Declan Gallagher22 251251
Matt Lockwood36 24110010
Lewis Toshney21 231231
Iain Davidson29 381381
Jim McAlister27 394394
Kevin McBride31 241351
John Baird27 395395
Carl Finnigan26 51104
Nicky Riley (sub)26 2929511
Ryan Conroy (sub)25 3567718
Colin Nish (sub)32 263263

League Table (as at April 27th, 2013)

No league table has been added for this season.

Manager's Programme Notes

We've not played at Dens for four weeks and it's great to have a game at home again.

We had a brilliant result at St Mirren Park last weekend and the boys fought hard to come back to Dundee with all three points. It was fantastic for Carl Finnigan to get the winning goal after the year he has been through, everyone could see what it meant to him and the Physio. We need to continue with this attitude of fighting for every point until it becomes mathematically impossible for us to remain in the SPL.

In the short time I have been here, the players have worked hard to prove they are capable of being in the team and this league. I want them to continue with this determination to win; not only are they trying to win points and league survival but many are trying to win new contracts.

Today will be a hard test as we welcome Gary Locke and his Hearts team to Dens Park. Although Hearts are safe from the drop they will be a tough opposition and, like us, they will want to finish the season as high up the league as they can.

The fans have been remarkable in their backing; with half price admission today we hope to see and hear a few more of you. The support given to the team and myself is greatly appreciated and we can only ask that you keep this up for the remainder of the season. It was great to see you all celebrating at full time last week and we hope it will be the same again today.