Mark McGhee in ‘proud’ Dundee declaration as strikerless side seal Motherwell point amid Covid chaos

Mark McGhee insists decimated Dundee proved they have the tools for survival by digging out a point despite heading to Motherwell without their entire strikeforce.

An injury and illness ravaged Dens side were missing 10 first team stars – with rookie goalkeeper Harrison Sharp told he was being thrown in for a first start after he climbed out of his bed on the morning of the game.

But they battled to a point for the second time in a week as sluggish Motherwell made it 10 league games without a victory and left the park to the jeers of their own brassed-off support.

Paul McMullan’s early strike was canceled out by Joe Efford’s first goal in claret and amber.

But McGhee was a happy man and insists last week’s dismal 4-0 thumping at home to Livingston has now been firmly forgotten.

He said: “There’s a hard road ahead but we’ve shown in this game that we’re up to it.

“We had to tell the goalie this morning when Ian Lawlor tested positive. The others we knew about on Friday.

“We had to get the young goalie out of his bed and tell him to bring his gloves. I was delighted for him.

“I’d hope that Wednesday would give us a foothold and we could start building. Then you lose five players who started.

“But I think this performance has continued from that I think a draw was about right.”

This fixture just over five years ago led to McGhee being sacked by Motherwell after fan protests followed Dundee leaving Lanarkshire with a 5-1 victory.

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Now back in Scotland the 64-year-old is right back into the heat of a relegation scrap with the Taysiders who remain a point behind St Johnstone at the bottom.

He didn’t have a single striker in his squad with midfielder Declan McDaid moved up top in a bid to provide some sort of focal point.

Mark McGhee was back at Fir Park

Frontmen Danny Mullen and Zak Rudden were missing along with Paul McGowan, Niall McGinn, Luke McCowan and goalkeepers Adam Legzdins and Ian Lawlor as well as injured skipper Charlie Adam.

But McGhee said: “The two performances since the Livingston game and the reaction around the training ground says we’re starting to build a relationship and we will take pride in performances.

“I think they can take pride in themselves. They rolled up their sleeves and have had two solid performances.

“The young goalie came in, Declan McDaid played up front—somewhere he hasn’t been since we’ve come in—and both acquired themselves very well.

“I said to Declan before the game that if he came off having run 12k, I’d reckon he’d have played well. If he’d only run 10k, he hadn’t. I reckon he probably ran 14. He was excellent.”

Despite their selection woes the Dens men got off to a dream start after just five minutes.

Well skipper Stephen O’Donnell had plenty of time to clear his lines but inexplicably dwelled on the ball allowing Paul McMullan to nip it off his toes before bending an unstoppable shot past Liam Kelly from just inside the box on the left.

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It was a shocker for the home side who had given the visitors who had six defenders in their makeshift starting line-up exactly what they wanted – something to hold onto.

Alexander’s men needed a response. And they got it in the 18th minute when Efford rattled home his first goal for the Steelmen.

It was all about Kevin Van Veen as he brushed off two challenges to hit the byeline and cut back to the American who fired past Sharp from eight yards.

Well’s tails were up and Effort headed an O’Donnell cross wide. But scrappy doesn’t begin to describe the bulk of this encounter where chances were at a premium and a series of long balls into channels brought little reward.

Well frontman Kaiyne Woolery tried his luck from the corner of the box four minutes after the restart only to see his deflected effort fizz wide. Efford then saw a 20 yarder sail over the bar while at the other end McDaid volleyed McMullan’s cross just over from eight yards.

Van Veen always seemed capable of producing something from nothing and one turn and shot had Sharp beaten only to clear the far post by inches aswell.

Well fans were getting increasingly frustrated by a series of long balls producing little in the way of chances. And howls of protest rained down as Graham Alexander replaced Mark O’Hara with Callum Slattery in a double switch that also saw Ross Tierney come on for Sean Goss.

The latter had an opportunity to make himself a hero with five minutes remaining but shot tamely at Sharp who produced a fine save to deny Woolery’s well-struck effort in injury time.

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McGhee is hopeful to have Adam and McGinn back for the midweek clash at home to St Mirren.

“The Covid guys won’t be back, they have set rules they have to adhere to,” McGhee said.

“Charlie and Niall McGinn could be back but I can’t say for sure.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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