The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)
IT IS a well-worn managerial cliché that every game is a “cup final” for their side.
However, that is exactly what next Saturday’s game at Hamilton now means to Dundee following this defeat at Dens to Falkirk.
Prior to the weekend match, the Dark Blues had failed to beat Gary Holt’s youthful outfit so far this season and the Bairns proved to be a bogey side yet again.
Dundee piled on the pressure in the first half but it was Falkirk who scored what proved to be the only goal of the game through a Mark Beck header.
The home side were left pulling their hair out in frustration in the second half as they struggled to break down a determined Falkirk side who could even afford to miss a penalty when Mark Millar had his spot-kick saved by Kyle Letheren.
They held on to topple Dundee off the Championship summit, albeit only on goals scored by Hamilton who conceded a late, late equaliser against Cowdenbeath.
The Dundee players were not allowed to speak to the press after the game on manager Paul Hartley’s orders.
However, one of Falkirk’s stalwarts, former Dundee United and St Johnstone centre-half David McCracken, was happy to talk about what was a vital victory for his side.
The 32-year-old said: “That was a massive result for us. I think we created some chances but today was more about digging in to get the three points.
“We have had performances like that throughout the season but perhaps earlier in the campaign we would only have come away with a draw.
“I think we displayed against Dundee a real determination to show where we want to go. “I think we deserved the result in the end. “There is a lot of self-belief in what is mostly a very young team. The boys know how talented they are but it has maybe taken a few games to show them that they can play like that.
“Sometimes it is not all about playing nice football. There are occasions where you do not have a lot of possession so you just have to sit in, dig deep and take your chance when it comes along. Obviously we got the goal from the corner but we were unlucky to miss the penalty.
“I think we showed great determination after that as the save gave Dundee a lift.
“We dug in well and even the boys who came on gave us a boost when we needed it and we saw the game out.”
Dundee were fast out of the blocks and with just one minute on the clock came close to opening the scoring when Peter MacDonald fired a free-kick from the angle of the Falkirk box inches past the post.
The Dark Blues pressed again with Martin Boyle having a cross tipped over the bar by Bairns keeper Michael McGovern.
From the resultant Jim McAlister corner, MacDonald had his header cleared off the line by Millar.
And it was the on-loan Dundee United midfielder who was the provider as Falkirk took a shock lead on 18 minutes. Millar hit an inswinging corner from the left with Mark Beck flashing a header into the bottom corner of Kyle Letheren’s net.
Dundee came storming back and there were three great chances for Craig Beattie but he spurned them all.
The first in the 22nd minute saw him go through one on one against McGovern but he hit his shot straight at the keeper, then six minutes later he found himself in space but once again his effort was saved.
The best opportunity of all came in the 36th minute when he contrived to blast wide from eight yards when he should have burst the net.