The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Hemmings hitting new heights as he demolishes Jags

- By Euan McArthur

DELIRIOUS Dundee boss James McPake hailed goal hero Kane Hemmings — then insisted the striker is even better than he was in his first stint at Dens Park.

Hemmings’ first-half double gave Dundee their first win since defeating Partick Thistle 1-0 at Firhill on December 21 and moved McPake’s promotion hopefuls into fourth position in the table.

The 28-year-old struck twice within 11 minutes, showing shades of his first spell on

Tayside before leaving for

Oxford United back in 2016.

And McPake, whose team’s win leaves bottom-side Thistle two points adrift of Alloa at the foot of the Championsh­ip, poured praise on Hemmings.

‘Kane has been brilliant for us of late,’ said McPake. ‘We just need to give him the right sort of service. If you supply him with chances, he’ll score. He’s shown that here. We knew that all along.

‘I’ve known Kane as a player and he’s better now than he was before. That’s the biggest compliment I can give him.

‘I thought we were in control of the game right until the very end.’

Dundee looked lively in the opening exchanges as Shaun Byrne supplied winger Declan McDaid at every opportunit­y in the hope that he could unlock the Jags defence.

And they took a deserved lead in simple fashion midway through the first half.

McDaid’s inswinging corner was perfect for Jordon Forster to rise and power a downwards header towards goal, which Hemmings gratefully helped home from point-blank range.

Thistle refused to buckle and James Penrice set up David Zanatta, whose low drive flashed just past Conor Hazard’s far post.

Hemmings was then sent clear by Paul McGowan and powered his way into the penalty box before slotting a fine finish outwith the reach of visiting keeper Scott Fox.

Thistle threw on Shea Gordon and Steven Saunders for Joe Cardle and Jamie Barjonas at the start of the second half in an effort to spark a revival.

But Dundee remained in command, with McDaid forcing a reflex save from the feet of Fox within minutes of the restart.

Dundee had further chances through both McDaid and

Christie Elliott, with the only downside the sight of midfielder Ross Callachan being stretchere­d off towards the end.

Thistle boss Ian McCall said: ‘We were poor. I take responsibi­lity. I picked the wrong team. We’re in a relegation dogfight.’

 ??  ?? BRACE YOURSELF: Hemmings beats Thistle keeper Fox to make it a double
BRACE YOURSELF: Hemmings beats Thistle keeper Fox to make it a double

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