"Dundee FC. Scotland’s yo-yo team,” it read, in reference to the Dens Park outfit’s recent flitting between the top flight and the Championship. For 80 minutes of this Tayside derby, those words looked ill-advised as the visitors appeared comfortable winners, dominating and leading 2-0. But Dundee are anything but reliable. St Johnstone supersub Max Kucheriavyi scored two late goals, the second six minutes into stoppage time, to rescue an unlikely 2-2 draw.
The defeat will hurt those of a Dundee persuasion. Their supporters travelled in numbers along the A90 and their owner and chairman Tim Keyes flew in from the States on Friday to attend. Owen Beck, their left-back on loan from Liverpool, was outstanding. The superior team for the most part, they took the lead on 35 minutes through Amadou Bakayoko, before debutant Rickie Lamie nodded home just before the hour. What will be even more vexing is that Scott Tiffoney and Zak Rudden both missed strong chances to increase Dundee’s lead. This was a case of two points tossed away.
“I’m shocked," said their manager Tony Docherty. “That’s massively two points dropped. We had opportunities to make it 3-0 or 4-0 and I think that would’ve been an accurate reflection of the balance of play. But you need to do your job, need to make sure you score the goal when you’re in that position. And when you’re asked questions in defence, you’ve got to defend it properly.
“But there’s so much I can be pleased about in terms of performance. I thought we looked a proper outfit. I can’t be too hard on the boys but they need to learn. It’s a punishing league if you let anyone have opportunities. We should’ve been out of sight. We’ve an honest group and they know that.”
Docherty remonstrated with referee Willie Collum at full time over the amount of stoppage time played that allowed Kucheriavyi to level, with only five minutes signalled by the fourth official. “I heard the fourth official actually say to Willie before the throw in that the five minutes were up, so interpret that any way that you want,” was Docherty’s comment.
For St Johnstone, this will feel like a victory given their insipid performance until the latter stages of the match. While concessions can be made given manager Steven MacLean is trying to mould 11 new signings together, they were toothless until Chris Kane was brought on as a sub. The striker, making his first appearance for the season due to injury, hit the bar with a volley and gave Saints a focal point in the final third. But it was Kucheriavyi, who came on at the same time as Kane, who stole the glory. He headed in a precise cross from Graham Carey on 82 minutes and then in the last action of the game popped up at the back post to net a drilled cross from Luke Robinson.
“Our performance wasn't great, if I'm being honest, but to show the character that we did, and the subs making an impact as well, that's why I needed to bring those players in,” said MacLean. “I'm delighted with a point considering the performance wasn't great. We're going to get better. There's a lot of young players and they are learning about the league as well, it's better league than people give it credit for. It's not easy – and they've probably seen that already. We'll improve.”