Dundee 1 - 4 Ross County: Schalk bags a double as County win at Dens

Owen Coyle, the Ross County manager, was quick to congratulate his players for ending their trying winless streak, before promptly challenging them to start venturing towards safety within the Premiership.
Davis Keillor-Dunn scores as Ross County beat Dundee. Picture: SNS/Kenny SmithDavis Keillor-Dunn scores as Ross County beat Dundee. Picture: SNS/Kenny Smith
Davis Keillor-Dunn scores as Ross County beat Dundee. Picture: SNS/Kenny Smith

Coyle’s side had been anxiously facing the prospect of becoming detached due to an awful run of form which had left them toiling, amid growing fears they could well be lurching in the direction of Championship football next season.

Instead, though,they rallied when most needed to return to winning ways courtesy of Dutchman Alex Schalk’s second-half double allied to Davis Keillor-Dunn’s opener, before substitute Tim Chow sealed matters with a last-minute strike at Dens Park.

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Although remaining bottom of the Premiership, the manner in which they ended such a lengthy stretch without tasting victory since their 3-2 defeat of Motherwell back in early November ought to work wonders for their confidence in their they efforts to remove themselves from the foot of the table.

Dundee, who somewhat missed the influence of defender Jack Hendry following his club-record transfer window move to Celtic in midweek, did briefly level through youngster Kerr Waddell’s 57th minute header but few could begrudge their opponents such a long-awaited triumph.

“It’s long overdue because we’d been on a terrible run, “ smiled Coyle afterwards.

“It had to come and it had to come quickly.

“The longer it goes the more difficult it gets. There’s just no getting away from that.

“You could crumble and fall apart but the really pleasing thing from my point of view here was the character the players showed when it went to 1-1.

“You could think ‘here we go again’ but the quality of our finishing was outstanding.

“This is probably the time to start winning games. You don’t want that terrible run we were on at the end of the season because it’s a difficult one to get out of.

“Now that we’ve changed that, it’s up to us to kick on.

“We want to be right in about things come the split and believe we’ve got enough to keep the club in the league.”

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There was a Dundee debut for Simon Murray who’d move to Tayside on loan from Hibs after previously starring for city rivals Dundee United, and his arrival had triggered excitement among the expectant home support.

County barely resembled a side threatened with the spectre of relegation as they attacked at every opportunity.

They exploded after the break and surged ahead in 51 minutes when Keillor-Dunn pounced on a loose ball and instinctively curled an unstoppable finish from 20-yards high into Elliott Parish’s top corner.

It was a short-lived lead. Lewis Spence’s cross picked out Waddell and his downward header sneaked into Scott Fox’s far post.

However, the visitors regained the initiative in 61 minutes. Spence, the Dundee substitute, was robbed of possession and from then on Schalk sprinted through on goal to finish well, despite the best efforts of Parish to keep it out.

Schalk made sure with his second in 65 minutes. Keillor-Dun’s back-heel was perfect and his team-mate duly buried a left-foot shot across Parish, something which Chow did likewise right at the end.

Neil McCann, the Dundee manager, held his hands up for his part in their downfall and said sorry to their supporters.

“I can only apologise to the fans because that does not sit well with myself nor the players,” admitted McCann.

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“I’m not just going to throw the boys under the bus because I made mistakes as well.

“I’ll take responsibility for some of the decisions I made.

“But together we’re certainly going to have to look over that ourselves and see how bad that was.

“It’s not good enough and I didn’t see it coming.”