James McPake hails Dundee’s battling qualities

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James McPake praised Dundee’s battling qualities after they came from behind to beat Hearts 2-1 and move off the bottom of the cinch Premiership.

Danny Mullen scored a 78th-minute winner to lift the Dens Park side above relegation rivals St Johnstone.

McPake was delighted with the way his team ended their run of nine games without a win in the league at the home of a Jambos side currently riding high in third place.

“I’m thrilled with the three points, the attitude, the determination and the fight they showed,” he said. “Not just to get back into the game but even in the first half when Hearts had a lot of the ball.

“We conceded what to me is a poor goal and we will look back at that, but it’s hard to be critical when we’ve come to a place like this when they are flying high, third in the league, and we’ve now taken four points out of six here this season.”

McPake’s players enjoyed the win at full-time but he knows they still have plenty of work to do to avoid the drop.

“Look, every three points is vital,” he said. “We had 14 cup finals, it’s down to 13 now.

“But we’ve got to be realistic as well. We can enjoy this and you saw the players going to the fans, that was an appreciation thing, that’s not us saying we’re staying up.

“It is a relief to get off the bottom but our aim is to get even higher.”

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson was scathing of his side’s defence after they let a 1-0 half-time lead slip.

“It’s very frustrating,” he said. “We played very well in the first half, created loads of good chances and were in total control.

“But we didn’t take these chances and started to get a bit over complacent. We didn’t do what we’d been doing in the first half. We were quite aggressive in our passing and went behind them in the first half.

“Second half we were too static with our play. It was all side to side and not enough penetration. When we did actually penetrate we got chances.

“But we need to do better than we were. My biggest frustration to be honest was defensively. I thought we were very poor at the two goals.

“We’ve had a brilliant defensive record recently, but at this moment in time we’ve not and we need to get back to that.”

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