Defiant Philippe Clement still believes Rangers can win the cinch Premiership title despite another set-back with a goalless draw at Dundee.

The Ibrox side lost for the first time ever against Ross County on Sunday in the poorest performance since the Belgian replaced Michael Beale last October and he was looking for a response against the Dark Blues, who had clinched a top-six place at the weekend.

However, in a game played at the third time of asking after the Dens Park pitch was twice ruled unplayable, the visitors could not get the breakthrough and were booed off the park by angry supporters.

The Ibrox side were eight points behind league leaders Celtic at one point and with five post-split matches remaining including a trip to Parkhead, they are three points behind but asked if they could still win it, Clement said: “I still believe that.

“I was maybe the only one in Glasgow who believed that in October, probably the only one of the whole town who believed that.

“We are now six months later and if we win all our games then there is a really big possibility for that.

“I think that is already a big step forward and I believe in this group, because I have seen what they have done this season already. They can do it again.

“Of course it is frustrating because you want to win, of course. You see the team gives everything for that. There was only one team who deserved to win this evening if you see the possession and the chances. It is frustrating if you have those things and don’t have the points.

“It would be concerning if it was the same performance as Sunday. That was not the case.

“So, there were a lot of things much better, it was also needed because Sunday was our worst performance in the six months that we’ve been together.

“Then it’s a pity that they show better things but don’t get the result behind you. But, it’s about standing up and being ready for Sunday again, to take the result.

“If they keep on pushing what they did today then results come also because that’s not big difference from how they played a few weeks ago or a few months ago.”

Ahead of the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup semi-final against Hearts at Hampden Park on Sunday, Clement asked for the backing of the Gers fans who were left so frustrated.

He said: “They need to stick with the team. That is super important. It is winning together and losing points together.

“I know as a fan you have the emotions and for sure after the game. But they have been great the last couple of months and pushing the team over difficult moments. That is what I expect also in this situation.

“They expect that the team gives everything to win games. Maybe in the next weeks they can push the team a few times over the line, or the ball over the line.”

Tony Docherty strongly disagreed with Clement’s assertion that only one team deserved to win the game.

“I thought it was, again, a really fantastic performance by the team,” said the Dundee boss, who revealed skipper Joe Shaughnessy will have a scan on a knee injury which saw him limp off early in the first half.

“I thought we went toe to toe with a really good Rangers team which has a huge motivation in the title race.

“But who had the more motivation in that game there?

“I thought my players served up a fantastic performance out of possession and in possession.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with them because I thought their focus going into the last two games was outstanding.

“And I thought we got our rewards tonight.”

Rangers’ recent regression continued with a grim goalless draw at Dundee which further dented their increasingly-fragile cinch Premiership title hopes.

The Ibrox side lost for the first time ever against Ross County on Sunday in the poorest performance since boss Philippe Clement took over last October and the Gers boss was looking for a reaction against the Dark Blues.

In a game played at the third time of asking after the Dens Park pitch was twice ruled unplayable, there was no improvement against a Dundee side who impressed.

The travelling Gers fans urged their team on after the break but they lacked imagination and guile and again heard boos at the final whistle.

With five post-split matches remaining including a trip to Celtic Park, the Light Blues are three points behind the Hoops at the top of the table and have hit the skids at the wrong time.

Rangers will now prepare for the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup semi-final against Hearts at Hampden Park on Sunday with newly-acquired trepidation.

Tony Docherty’s Dundee, who commendably clinched a top-six place on their return to the top flight, are now three points behind fifth-placed St Mirren and they deserved their point.

It is now just two wins in eight in all competitions for Clement’s stumbling side.

Utility player Dujon Sterling, midfielder Tom Lawrence and striker Kemar Roofe returned to the side with the latter making his first start since December 20 as Borna Barisic, Kieran Dowell and Cyriel Dessers dropped to the bench.

Ricki Lamie, Owen Dodgson and Malachi Boateng were back for the Taysiders, who came close to scoring within a minute when Boateng’s low drive just escaped Ibrox keeper Jack Butland’s right-hand post.

Dundee skipper Joe Shaughnessy limped off after 10 minutes to be replaced by Antonio Portales before Gers attacker Abdallah Sima outstripped the home defence but his low drive was blocked by the foot of Jon McCracken, the Dundee keeper saving another effort from the Brighton loanee moments later.

Dundee played the better football. In the 22nd minute Butland parried a Luke McCowan free-kick from 25 yards and Scott Tiffoney got to the rebound first to help it on to Amadou Bakayoko to knock over the line from a yard out but the offside flag went up.

Rangers toiled, threatening only occasionally.

McCracken pushed a curling free-kick from Gers skipper James Tavernier round the post then saved a Connor Goldson header from the resulting corner but it was the more composed and fluid home side who were applauded off at the break.

Rangers stepped up the tempo at the start of the second half but a spark of creativity was absent and Dundee’s defending was organised.

In the 56th minute, Clement tried a shake-up and Dessers, Dowell and Rabbi Matondo replaced Roofe, Todd Cantwell and Fabio Silva and McCracken soon had to save from Lawrence’s drive from a tight angle.

McCracken pulled off a fine save from Dessers’ curling shot as the Dees defence were stretched for once and held a tame Tavernier header but it was mostly huffing and puffing from the visitors while Dundee were always a threat.

Worryingly for Gers fans, their side have suffered a dip in form at the wrong time of the season.

Tony Docherty emphasised his pride in his Dundee players after seeing his side clinch their spot in the cinch Premiership top six after a trying week.

The Dark Blues weathered an early Aberdeen storm but grew into the game and dominated proceedings, although only Lyall Cameron’s 70th-minute effort, which was blocked by Angus MacDonald, really threatened the home goal.

The hosts had a late flurry before captain Graeme Shinnie saw red deep into injury time for a second bookable offence.

Docherty, whose side’s game against Rangers was called off in mid-week due to a waterlogged pitch, said: “There’s an enormous sense of satisfaction and pride in the players. They deserve all the credit for everything they’ve done.

“There are certain seasons a team can get to a cup final by winning four or five games, but to do it over the course of a season, from being the newly-promoted team. It’s the youngest group in the league and it’s huge testament to them.”

Dundee’s top-six spot was confirmed thanks to Motherwell’s late equaliser against Hibernian.

“Our kitman was keeping in touch with the Hibs game, but the supporters got there before him,” added Docherty.

“It was a day where we had to adapt. We threw on strikers and then the goal (for Motherwell) comes so we throw on defenders.

“Today was a fantastic, gritty performance, but we’ve earned it over the course of the campaign. It’s testament to the players and I’m so pleased for them.”

Aberdeen caretaker Peter Leven felt his side had to score when they were in the ascendancy in the first half.

He said: “I thought we were really good first half, but I turned to the bench and said we need to score when we’re on top.

“We caused Dundee problems and they had to change their shape, then they changed personnel, but we really had to get that goal.

“We lacked a bit of cutting edge. We generally played well in our tempo and intensity, but in front of goal we’re a wee bit shy.

“I’ve not seen the red card as yet. I didn’t even know if it was for a second yellow, but I’ll need to watch it back.”

Dundee manager Tony Docherty kept his “laser focus” on Saturday’s trip to Pittodrie as he dodged questions about the Dens Park pitch and the controversy over the second postponement of their game with Rangers.

Docherty’s side will clinch a cinch Premiership top-six place if they beat Aberdeen and a draw would suffice if Motherwell get a result against Hibernian at Fir Park.

Defeat for Dundee would put off confirmation of the make-up of the top and bottom six until the game with Rangers finally goes ahead.

The match is now scheduled for Wednesday, but alternatives are being discussed between the clubs and the Scottish Professional Football League.

When asked what state the pitch was in following the latest call-off on Wednesday due to a waterlogged surface, Docherty said in a media conference: “I really don’t know. I’ve not been anywhere near the pitch. We are in the Gardyne training facility and that’s where I have been for the last two days preparing for the Aberdeen game on Saturday.”

Rangers accused Dundee of “negligence” after the postponement and Hibernian are reported to have complained to the SPFL given Docherty’s side may go into their final pre-split game knowing what they need to achieve.

The Dundee manager refused to get involved in the furore.

“In my capacity as football manager, all I can affect is my role as football manager and it’s incumbent upon me to make sure I prepare a team for the matches that are upcoming,” he said.

“So anything outwith that, I can’t affect other teams, I can’t comment on other teams, I wouldn’t comment on other teams.”

When asked about the prospect of facing Rangers at a neutral venue next Wednesday, Docherty said: “There is nothing I can do about that, I can’t affect that. I can affect the Aberdeen game and that’s where my laser focus is. Nothing can distract us from that.”

Dundee’s previous game against Motherwell was the subject of similar uncertainty and talks over alternative venues and dates before it went ahead following a late inspection last Saturday, the visitors winning 3-2 after Dundee went 2-0 up.

Docherty said: “Of course it can be unsettling because you prepare for every game. We have had five call-offs. You prepare for every game in terms of game plan, selection of players. But players quickly move on and I quickly move on. That’s gone now, that’s in the past.

“It’s incumbent upon me as manager to make sure there is a laser focus now towards the Aberdeen game and that’s what me, my players and my staff have got. The next game is the most important game and something that we are very focused on.

“It’s huge testament to this group of players, as the newly-promoted team and the youngest squad in the league… Seventeen of the squad have made their Premiership debut this season, of that 11 are under 21. It’s huge testament to the group that we are a win away from that (top six) and it’s advantage us because it’s in our hands.

“I need to give them great praise for that and I want to see them sprint across that finish line.”

Tony Docherty lavished praised the “bravery” of his Dundee players as they moved into the top six but he refused to get carried away after the 2-1 win over St Johnstone.

Amadou Bakayoko fired home a late winner for the visitors after Adama Sidibeh had equalised following Lyall Cameron’s breathtaking opener.

Docherty has repeatedly targeted securing 10 league wins on Dundee’s return to the top flight and that was achieved as the Dark Blues moved one point ahead of Hibs into sixth place.

Whilst accepting the magnitude of the victory, Docherty pointed to the teams below Dundee in the table, rather than those ahead, with three more games remaining for his side until the split.

“It was a massive win,” Docherty admitted. “More importantly, I couldn’t be more proud of the players.

“Over the season you look at games and we’ve had a 4-0 and 4-1 but that today is a different type of win and a display of mentality, resilience and togetherness.

“It shows how much we’re developing as a team. There was an accusation earlier in the season that when we dominate we don’t win. To grind that out and win and be brave and make a tactical change to win it, the players took that on board and their bravery merited the three points.

“We’re 12 ahead of Ross County, 11 ahead of St Johnstone. Our big objective was to get 10 wins on the board. To get 10 as a newly-promoted team with eight games left is a huge testament to the players. It’s a box ticked but we’ll keep going. We won’t get carried away.”

Meanwhile, Craig Levein was left frustrated by two refereeing decisions as his St Johnstone side were denied a late equaliser.

Ryan McGowan had the ball in the net but referee Iain Sneddon stood by his initial decision that the St Johnstone defender had fouled Aaron Donnelly in the build-up when asked to review the incident on the pitchside monitor by VAR official Greg Aitken.

Levein conceded he hadn’t reviewed the incident but was surprised that ref Sneddon didn’t reverse his decision and he felt St Johnstone should have had a penalty for a foul on Sidibeh by Dundee goalkeeper Jon McCracken.

“I haven’t had enough time to look properly,” Levein conceded. “It was one of those days for us. I don’t know what to say.

“Most times when the ref comes to look at the screen there’s an alteration in the result. I’ll have more chances to look later on.

“I don’t like going to ask (the referee) because I’ll say something I’ll regret. In the first half we should have had a pen I thought.

“Their goalie brought down Adama but for it not to be looked at puzzles me. The goalie took the ball. They protect themselves by raising their knees but he pushed his knee out to the right and caught Adama on the thigh and they haven’t looked at it. That I’d like an answer to.”

Amadou Bakayoko fired Dundee into the top six in the Scottish Premiership with a late winner against St Johnstone in Perth.

A scrappy encounter was illuminated by two sublime goals from either side courtesy of Lyall Cameron and Adama Sidibeh to leave the game delicately poised at 1-1 entering the final 10 minutes but Bakayoko tapped in from four yards in front of the ecstatic travelling contingent.

There was late drama as St Johnstone correctly had a goal ruled out after a long VAR check but it was a massive win for Tony Docherty’s men as they moved one point ahead of Hibs into sixth place after the Edinburgh side lost to Rangers at Ibrox.

St Johnstone will be frustrated as it was a relatively even encounter and the Saints remain in danger of the relegation play-off place as they stayed just one point ahead of 11th-placed Ross County.

Dundee enjoyed the better of the opening stages and they broke the deadlock in stunning fashion through Cameron – the best player on the pitch.

Dimitar Mitov raced out of his box to beat Scott Tiffoney to a long ball but, with the visitors screaming for a handball from the St Johnstone goalkeeper, Cameron remained alert to drill a brilliant effort into the empty net from 40 yards out with Mitov stranded.

It turned into a scrappy encounter as the first half progressed but St Johnstone spurned a great chance to equalise on 25 minutes. Tony Gallacher won the foot race onto a long ball but he was unable to lift the ball over the advancing Jon McCracken, who tipped it over the bar.

After the resulting corner was partially cleared, Dundee goalkeeper McCracken made another impressive stop to tip David Keltjens’ long-range effort around the post.

Saints were applying pressure on the Dundee backline in the second half and they were rewarded for their endeavours when Sidibeh equalised on the hour mark with a sensational acrobatic finish.

Matt Smith’s cross from the right was deflected and looped up with Sidibeh adjusting his body before perfectly executing a bicycle kick as the ball flew past McCracken.

It was end to end as the game opened up in the final 15 minutes and Dundee capitalised to seal victory on 80 minutes. The impressive Luke McCowan found space in the box and his drilled ball across goal was prodded home from close range by a stretching Bakayoko.

St Johnstone pressed for a late equaliser and, after Stevie May struck the post with a powerful strike, Ryan McGowan had the ball in the net.

Referee Iain Sneddon, however, blew his whistle as Dundee keeper McCracken had two hands on the ball and McGowan also appeared to push Aaron Donnelly.

The referee was asked to review the incident on the pitch-side monitor but he stuck by his original decision as Dundee secured a vital three points.

Luke McCowan’s penalty sent Dundee back into the cinch Premiership top six and left Aberdeen facing a battle against the drop.

McCowan’s fourth goal in six games – and his eighth overall this season – earned Tony Docherty’s side a deserved 1-0 win at Dens Park.

The midfielder netted in the 66th minute following a lengthy VAR check which ultimately saw Jack MacKenzie penalised for handball.

The home side had dominated the first half but some hesitancy in front of goal, good goalkeeping from Kelle Roos and some poor deliveries from corners kept the scores blank at half-time.

Aberdeen were led into the game by first-team coach Peter Leven, who was back in caretaker charge for the second time in six weeks following the end of Neil Warnock’s brief spell at the helm.

But the Dons have now gone 11 league games without victory and the defeat leaves them just three points clear of the danger zone following second-bottom Ross County’s stoppage-time equaliser against Hibernian, which allowed Dundee to jump above the Edinburgh side.

Any slim hopes of a top-six push vanished completely as results on the night left the Dons nine points behind Dundee with four games until the split.

They face another away game on Saturday, against Motherwell, before the anticipated appointment of a long-term successor to Barry Robson during the international break, although the visiting fans clearly had little faith in the decision-makers as they chanted “sack the board” in the closing minutes.

Dundee had Owen Dodgson back in the team after Owen Beck failed a fitness test while Leven named the same team that started in Warnock’s final game, a Scottish Gas Scottish Cup win over Kilmarnock.

The home side were quickly on the front foot and Curtis Main should have converted the rebound after Roos parried Scott Tiffoney’s strike. The former Dons striker took a touch and the goalkeeper smothered.

A brilliant Dodgson cross was just too far in front of Main six yards out before Dundee had a penalty claim for handball when Connor Barron blocked Tiffoney’s shot. Referee Steven McLean delayed and then gave a free-kick to Aberdeen inside the box.

Dundee remained well on top. Roos bravely denied Lyall Cameron as the midfielder slid in to meet Main’s low cross and the Dutchman tipped over Dodgson’s long-range striker.

Angus MacDonald blocked well from Tiffoney and Cameron shot just wide as Dundee continued to probe.

Aberdeen looked slightly better at the start of the second half but they fell behind after initially surviving a free-kick into the box.

McLean kept the 8,215 crowd waiting even after going to his monitor but he eventually pointed to the spot and McCowan sent Roos the wrong way.

Cameron soon had a great chance to double the lead but he dragged a shot wide following Tiffoney’s square ball.

Dundee continued to create chances and Roos saved from Cameron and Main.

There was plenty of effort from the visitors but home goalkeeper Jon McCracken remained untested other than from aerial balls until he held two headers from substitute Ester Sokler in the closing stages.

Brendan Rodgers was transported back to his first spell in charge of Celtic as his side struck six first-half goals against Dundee.

Celtic have lost top spot in the cinch Premiership since the winter break, drawing twice and winning narrowly in their other three league games.

But they rediscovered their groove with their biggest victory of the season as they thrashed Tony Docherty’s side 7-1 at Celtic Park.

There were seven different scorers for Rodgers’ side as Cameron Carter-Vickers, Adam Idah, Matt O’Riley, Daizen Maeda, Greg Taylor and Callum McGregor struck before half-time substitute Daniel Kelly curled home his first goal for the club.

Rodgers said: “It was a top performance. We had players coming back, connecting the game, speed in the game, creativity and a real ruthless mentality.

“I have said about the pitch a few times but a big congratulations to the staff who have been working hard over the past few weeks to get it to a level that allows us to play at that speed. And you can see the difference it makes.

“So I thought all round, from the stands to the pitch, it was a great night for us.”

Rodgers, whose side remain two points behind Rangers, added: “It felt more like when I was here the first time – that ruthless mentality of the team, simplicity of the game and the football we played. And that’s why we are here, to entertain the supporters.”

Rodgers had called for positivity in the stands before the game and the noise at the half-time whistle was more akin to a Champions League night, helped by the fact that Kilmarnock were beating Rangers before a second-half fightback from the leaders.

Rodgers said: “There was a really nice moment at half-time when they were coming in. The fans could see then how the level of performance had jumped up. We had everything we wanted from the game – the runs, the movement, the ambition.”

Dundee’s second-half performance offered some comfort for Docherty, whose side got a consolation through substitute Michael Mellon despite having Finlay Robertson sent off.

But Docherty was still reeling from their first-half collapse during the post-match media conference.

“It’s something I have not seen in the group so I am actually a bit shocked to see the level of goal we have conceded,” he said.

“We need to take ownership and responsibility for that, for not defending crosses, not defending our box properly, getting done by cutbacks, getting done on the insides.

“I have to say I thought Celtic were outstanding but we can do more and we need to take responsibility for that.

“But I have to defend those players, they have been brilliant for me this season and there has to be a wee bit of reality in terms of us being a newly-promoted team. I am not taking away the accountability from myself and the players and I would like to apologise to the support.

“But I will always back that group of players because I don’t think we have been lower than seventh in the league.”

Dundee boss Tony Docherty was purring over the performance of his team after they beat Ross County 2-0 in the cinch Premiership.

The Dark Blues took all three points thanks to a Scott Tiffoney double, with his manager singling the winger out for special praise.

Tiffoney was signed from Partick Thistle last summer and Docherty feels the 25-year-old has now fully adapted to life in the top tier.

The Dundee manager said: “I am absolutely delighted. I keep seeing the team improving and now you can see the strength of us in keeping the clean sheet.

“Ross County are a good team and I knew it wouldn’t be an easy game.

“But the quality of the goals from Scott Tiffoney and then the defending as a team was really pleasing.

“I’m delighted for Tiff. He works so hard. There has been an adaptation period for Tiff coming up from the Championship. He got his rewards today for the efforts he puts in.

“I see the amount of work he puts in during the week and I’m delighted he gets the reward.”

Interim Staggies boss Don Cowie insisted there were positives to take from the game.

He said: “I thought we were good, it was a good away performance.

“We did a lot of things that I really enjoyed and really liked, but we switched off twice in 90 minutes and we got punished.

“Dundee will be very happy in the manner of getting the goal right on half-time. From our point of view it was really frustrating, but the message at half-time was to keep doing what we were doing.

“I really enjoyed what I was seeing and we did that, but we got punished. We’ve got to learn from that.

“It’s about not feeling sorry for ourselves. We’ve got to just keep doing what we are doing and working away. If we keep putting performances like that in, the results will come.

“I’m confident. It’s going to be difficult because there are a lot of good teams in this league.

“We have to be ready going into every game. I have seen improvements from Wednesday night, we worked really hard against Rangers.

“In this game I thought we worked hard and passed the ball really well at times.

“The players are a little bit down after the game because they put a lot into it, and probably felt they deserved at least a point.”

Dundee made it back-to-back cinch Premiership wins with a comfortable victory over Ross County at Dens Park.

Scott Tiffoney was the Dark Blues’ hero with what proved to be a decisive double as the win took Tony Docherty’s side within three points of St Mirren in fifth.

County had chances but failed to take them, with Don Cowie’s strugglers now facing a huge match next week against rock-bottom Livingston who moved to within three points of County with their shock win over St Mirren.

The hosts were the first to threaten in the third minute when Luke McCowan linked with Lyall Cameron, who fizzed a low 25-yard shot just inches past the post.

The Staggies responded immediately with Eamonn Brophy hitting a speculative long-range effort that flew over Dundee keeper Trevor Carson’s bar.

Brophy had another opportunity when he made space for himself inside the home box but his fierce shot was blocked at his near post by Carson.

Dundee then put together a well-worked string of passes that ended with another Cameron shot that was deflected over the bar thanks to a last-gasp intervention by Staggies defender Michee Efete.

The Dark Blues continued to press, with Jordan McGhee the latest player to have a pot shot at goal but his attempt flew well wide of County keeper George Wickens’ left-hand post.

McGhee then came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock when he was first to a superb Owen Beck cross but his header was acrobatically tipped over the bar by Wickens.

Dundee were enjoying the majority of possession but they survived a huge scare just after the half-hour mark when Carson had to come to the rescue with a great reaction save to deny Staggies striker Simon Murray, whose point-blank header seemed destined for the back of the net.

Instead, it was the home side who finally made the breakthrough in the 45th minute when Dara Costelloe slipped a pass into Tiffoney to send him in on goal and the winger kept his cool, hitting a clinical finish past Wickens.

Dundee doubled their advantage in the 65th minute when the ball broke to Tiffoney on the edge of the County box and the winger took full advantage, hitting a low shot past Wickens and into the bottom corner of the net.

County huffed and puffed for a way back into the game but Dundee comfortably held on to take all three points.

St Mirren boss Stephen Robinson has stressed the importance of Wednesday night’s home clash with Dundee to his players.

The fifth-placed Buddies are bristling with confidence following their convincing 3-0 cinch Premiership win over Hibernian at Easter Road on Saturday.

Next up are Tony Docherty’s Taysiders who, along with Hibs, are also competing with Saints for a top-six finish, but Robinson is looking for more league joy before St Mirren host Celtic in the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup on Sunday.

The Northern Irishman said: “We established ourselves as a top-six side last season.

“The hardest bit is trying to repeat that. So far we are doing that.

“These two games against teams directly below us means it gives you a little bit of a cushion if you can win the game.

“Sometimes you try to play that down to players, but we have done the opposite, we have played it up and made the level of importance of the game really high and it is the same on Wednesday night.

“We created numerous chances against Hibs, but that comes from a solid base and we need that tomorrow night and we need it again on Sunday.”

Robinson insists lessons were learned in the 4-0 defeat by Dundee in November, the Buddies’ biggest defeat of the season.

He said: “We had a lot of possession, 60 per cent, and we had more than 30 crosses into the box, but we played in front of Dundee a lot, we didn’t go in behind them, turn them around and make them go towards their own goal. So there’s lessons in that.

“We conceded from two set-plays. Dundee are a high threat in set-plays, very well-organised and very pro-active in their set-plays.

“We have to be well versed in that. No matter how bad we played up until half-time, we were 2-0 down due to set-plays.

“It is a critical part of the game now and we have to be on top of that tomorrow night.”

Tony Docherty admitted he was baffled by the award of a pivotal penalty against Dundee as they lost 3-2 to Hearts at Dens Park.

The home side had opened the scoring in the first half through Jordan McGhee before the Jam Tarts equalised after the break with an Alan Forrest goal.

The Dark Blues took the lead once more with a stunning strike from Lyall Cameron before Hearts were awarded a penalty.

Referee Graham Grainger ruled that Lee Ashcroft had handled a Lawrence Shankland shot with the striker converting the spot-kick before scoring what proved to be a late winner.

However, Dundee boss Docherty questioned the penalty decision and why the official did not have another look at the incident on the pitchside monitor.

Docherty said: “I would love to come in after a game and talk about my team and how good they’ve been.

“But it seems to be the last five weeks all you do is talk about decisions.

“I just spoke to big Ash there, who is the most honest boy you could meet. What are you meant to do there?

“Are you meant to cut off a body part? What are you meant to do when you are a yard away from the player and it hits you.

“It was such a pivotal point in the game. We had gone from 1-1 to score a wonderful goal to go 2-1 up and I thought we were comfortable.

“Hearts are a really good side with a top striker in Lawrence Shankland. I thought we were handling it well but it was just that moment in the game that changed everything.

“Why doesn’t he go and check it? I don’t understand. He’s told me: ‘Had I seen it again…’ Why did you not go and see it again?

“We have invested as an industry and a football club in a piece of apparatus there that you can go and check.

“Yet you don’t do that. It is just galling for me.”

Shankland had been the subject of intense transfer speculation during the window with Jambos boss Steven Naismith admitting the Scotland front man showed exactly why he is such a key player for Hearts.

The manager said: “He is a top striker. He is somebody who we know is really important and that’s why we wanted to tie him down to a longer contract, that’s why we want him to be here as long as possible.

“A big bit of pressure on his penalty but again he shows his quality.”

Derek McInnes urged Kilmarnock to fight to the final whistle in their Scottish Gas Scottish Cup tie against Dundee after suffering a double disappointment against the Dens Park side in the cinch Premiership this season.

The Dee grabbed a last-gasp equaliser through captain Joe Shaughnessy in the 2-2 draw in Ayrshire on December 30 after the home side had taken the lead with a Rory McKenzie goal in the third minute of added time.

Killie had also succumbed to Dundee late in the game in September when Zak Rudden’s added-time goal for the 10-man hosts gave Tony Docherty’s side a point in a 2-2 draw.

McInnes, happy to add striker Greg Stewart to his squad on Thursday after the 33-year-old arrived from Indian Super League side Mumbai City, reflected on the two late setbacks against his former assistant Docherty as he looked forward to the fourth-round tie on Saturday.

He said: “We score in the 93rd, 94th minute and you automatically feel that’s the game in the bag, but the people who can’t think that way are the players and you’ve still got to see the job through.

“Dundee have scored a lot of goals from set-plays so the one thing you can guarantee in any game is the ball is coming in your box so you’ve got to withstand that.

“I think in open play we’ve been pretty comfortable against them. They do carry a threat at set-plays with the size they’ve got and both equalising goals were from corner kicks in the dying embers of the game.

“That’s allowed us to drop four points in the league which always nags away at you. I think it’s important that we try and focus on the good when we’ve played Dundee and just remember that we’ve got a job to see it through if we’re in a similar position, but we’re going to have to work hard to get ourselves in front.

“I think it will be a tight match, a competitive match, a lot of good players in both teams. It’s a cup tie and we want to do well in the cup, we see the importance of the cup as well as having a strong league campaign.”

Curtis Main is relishing his return to Scottish football after joining Dundee on an 18-month contract.

The former Motherwell, Aberdeen and St Mirren forward spent the first half of the season with Indian club Bengaluru after leaving the Paisley side under freedom of contract last summer.

Main, who has also played for Darlington, Middlesbrough, Shrewsbury, Doncaster, Oldham and Portsmouth, is delighted to be reunited with Dundee boss Tony Docherty, who was assistant manager to Derek McInnes during the striker’s two and a half years with Aberdeen.

“It is a great feeling to be back in Scottish football and I am really looking forward to getting started with Dundee,” he told the Dark Blues’ official website after signing with the Tayside club until the summer of 2025.

“The manager was a big influence in my decision, I’ve worked with him in the past and he knows what he is going to get from me, and I know what I am going to get from him.

“For me, that was a big appeal to get the opportunity to work with him again. I can’t wait to get back out on the pitch in Scotland and to play in front of the Dundee supporters.”

Main scored nine goals for St Mirren in his last season in Scotland and Docherty was keen to secure his signature from the moment he took the reins at Dens Park last summer.

“I am absolutely delighted to bring Curtis to the club,” said the manager. “I’ve got a good relationship with Curtis from my time as assistant manager at Aberdeen and I built up a strong bond with him.

“He has done fantastic work in the Scottish Premiership, he knows the league really well and he brings real quality in the type of striker that I feel the whole team will benefit from.

“Curtis is also a fantastic professional, I know what he will bring to the club and to the changing room, he has a really strong attitude along with a winning mentality.

“Curtis is a player that I have wanted to bring in right from when I got the job here. I believe Curtis will fit in extremely well with the way we play and I think he is a player that the fans will love.”

Dundee, who are seventh in the cinch Premiership, visit Kilmarnock in the fourth round of the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup this Saturday.

Dundee manager Tony Docherty hailed the spirit of his players after captain Joe Shaughnessy’s header deep into stoppage time secured a 2-2 draw at Rugby Park.

Dundee had taken a first-half lead through Luke McCowan’s sublime low finish but Kilmarnock’s Joe Wright levelled things with five minutes remaining.

In a crazy climax, Rory McKenzie fired the home side ahead in the third minute of added time before Shaughnessy headed home Owen Beck’s corner two minutes later to ensure the match ended in a draw.

Docherty was pleased with the combination of grit and quality shown by his side.

He said: “We saw it at Dens against Kilmarnock and in the last seconds against Ross County and then today.

“That epitomises the squad that I’ve got and especially my captain Joe Shaughnessy. It’s that mentality that there is, that spirit in the team.

“When the dust settles that could be a huge point in our season.

“We’ve had a real consistent level of performance – probably outwith the Old Firm games.

“We’re a competitive team and when you display the ability level that we did in the first half and you ally that to the spirit and mentality to score a goal in the last seconds of the game, I think that’s a good recipe.

“I thought it was very much a game of two halves. I thought in the first half we were outstanding. We just needed that second goal but our level of performance was outstanding.

“I knew they were going to throw everything at us in the second half and they did. Up until four minutes to go, we had withstood that pressure.

“I was gutted we lost the goal and then the second goal goes in, but I can’t criticise these boys because what a mentality they have got.”

Killie boss Derek McInnes was proud of his players for their reaction after a poor first half, though he admitted the sucker punch at the death was “sore”.

He said: “The game is never over until its over. We lost a similar goal late on at Dens – a mistake as well.

“I thought Dundee were good value for their half-time lead. I thought they were better than us. I thought they were brighter than us and I thought they got to the pace of the game better than us.

“As good as Dundee were first half, I thought we were equally good – if not better – second half. I thought we kept asking the question, we arrived in good areas and we moved the ball well.

“I’m really pleased with the level of performance but more so the level of character. It was sheer will to turn this game around for us. It’s a sore one but it happens.

“The fourth official had told me as soon as the long throw was cleared that was the game over, which didn’t happen. But we’ve still got to defend the corner.”

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