MAKR McGHEE, Dundee’s recently-appointed manager, expressed his satisfaction after watching his team gain some valuable ground in their fight for Premiership survival with a valuable point at home to Hibernian.
McGhee’s side also restored much-needed dignity in the wake of last weekend’s 4-0 capitulation at the hands of Livingston to move to within a point of second-bottom St Johnstone, courtesy of his hard-fought draw with 10-man Hibs.
It could have been even better had they taken advantage of their numerical superiority following Rocky Bushiri’s 58th minute dismissal for violent conduct towards Paul McGowan, but it was a more content McGhee who reflected on what has been a turbulent few days for the Dens Park club.
“We picked a much more experienced team and I was delighted with the way they all stepped up,” said McGhee.
“It was a better shape and it gives us something to build on.
“Not taking the three points is not the most important thing. We still have time to chip away at what we need.
“This was completely different from last Saturday. We won’t have a chance if we play like that but now we need to try and find some consistency.”
Dundee began the game two points behind St Johnstone, who were hosting Rangers in nearby Perth.
They needed no incentive to make amends for their previous outing at Dens Park just four days earlier.
Against Livingston at the weekend, the Tayside club found themselves three goals down after just 21 minutes, prompting irate fans streamed to out in disgust.
All eyes were naturally on how they would respond and their supporters had already made their minds up as a paltry crowd witnessed kick-off.
McGhee made no fewer than five changes, bringing in McGowan, Charlie Adam, Paul McMullan, Niall McGinn, and Jordan Marshall in the hope of evoking a much-required response.
For Hibs, they were without striker Kevin Nisbet, who suffered knee ligament damage early on in Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Celtic at Easter Road which brought his season to a premature end, meaning Christian Doidge came in from the start.
Goalkeeper Kevin Dabrowski returned between the sticks for the Edinburgh visitors, whose recent resurgence had helped lift any growing pressure on Shaun Maloney.
Dundee at least began as thought they intended to repay their fans, with Jordan McGhee shooting narrowly over the bar from McGinn’s cross following a corner.
Hibs began to settle, though, and Ewan Henderson saw his effort blocked from Bushiri’s measured assist.
Dundee almost ventured ahead in 50 minutes. Adam proceeded to dance past several Hibs challenges before unleashing a low shot with his weaker right foot, only to see it scrape past the far post.
That served to enliven things and, in 58 minutes, Hibs were reduced to 10 men when Bushiri raised his hand to McGowan, leaving referee with little option but to brandish the red-card.
The hosts did their best to capitalise on the extra man and McMullan saw his late goal-bound effort intercepted by Ryan Porteous.
Now they travel to face McGhee’s former club, Motherwell, on Saturday with just 10 games remaining.
Maloney, whose side were leapfrogged into fourth spot by Livingston, expressed his own dejection at the loss of Nisbet.
“It’s hugely disappointing to lose Kevin,” said Maloney afterwards.
“He was just getting back to his best form for us so it’s disappointing for everyone.
“He is going to see an expert and it looks like surgery. We will find out in the next few days but it’s definitely his season done.
“I was happy overall with the performance although we could have been a bit more incisive in the final third.
“As for the sending-off, I have only seen one angle so I will wait until I see it back on TV.”