Dundee boss James McPake says it took “a special goal” to get the better of Derek Gaston as the Arbroath keeper threatened to make it a “nightmare” afternoon for the Dark Blues.
On the back of three straight defeats, the Dens Park club were in need of three points to get their Championship campaign up and running.
And McPake was delighted with his team’s first-half performance as they saw off the Red Lichties 1-0 at Dens Park with Paul McGowan’s wonderful strike capping an impressive opening 45 minutes.
Though he felt they should have been further in front by the break with Gaston pulling off top saves to deny Christie Elliott and Max Anderson.
McPake said: “I’m the first to criticise my team when we’re not at it but the only criticism I had of that first half was that we’re not 3-0 up.
“We had the chances to put the game to bed and make it more comfortable but credit to Gaston in the Arbroath goal.
“He made great saves but we could have been more ruthless in front of goal.
“We also should have had a stonewall penalty (for handball by Tam O’Brien).
“We defended our box really well in the second half which I was pleased about.
“I know Jack Hamilton made a great save and I’m delighted for him but sometimes you need that.
“Liam Fontaine and Lee Ashcroft both defended our box really well because Arbroath threw everything at us.
“We stood firm and I’m delighted for the players, they deserved that.
“It was a great three points for us against a really stuffy team. I do wish we had made it more comfortable, though.”
Attacking midfielder McGowan was at the heart of everything good about the Dark Blues in the opening half and topped the performance with a goal of the season contender.
Having run with the ball from the middle of the park, McGowan fired in from 20 yards with his outside of the foot shot clipping the post on its way into the net.
“McGowan was fantastic, all our chances were coming through him and his goal was fantastic,” said McPake.
“It reminded me of a similar goal he scored against United with the outside of his boot – he seems to hit it better with that. It was a great finish and I’m delighted for him.
“Credit to Arbroath as well because they changed their system to deal with Paul McGowan in the second half – usually teams do that to deal with Charlie Adam.
“It looked like it might be a nightmare for us and sometimes it takes a special goal to win a game.”