Dundee boss James McPake hailed the impact of the “outstanding” Paul McMullan after the winger played a key role in their 2-0 home win over Arbroath.
The on-loan Dundee United man was the architect of the goals from Danny Mullen and Max Anderson that saw the Dark Blues move back into the play-off spots.
After hitting double figures for assists during the Tangerines’ title success in the Championship last season, McMullan has set up six goals for his new side in his first six games.
And McPake says the wide man’s performances show why he was desperate to bring him across Sandeman Street.
The Dens boss said after the win over Arbroath: “Paul was outstanding.
“He causes real problems to full-backs and you can see they don’t like playing against him.
“I saw it last year myself – opposition managers don’t like facing a team with Paul McMullan in it.
“I had that last year and that’s why I’m glad he’s at my club.
“You could see on Saturday again, he set two goals up, his work-rate is fantastic and he is now at a level of fitness we are happy with.”
Starting a big week right
Victory, combined with Queen of the South losing at home to Alloa, saw Dundee move back into the play-off spots, a position they can make secure with another positive result against Ayr on Tuesday.
McPake is delighted to get such a key week off to a winning start, especially with Alloa to come just three days after the clash with the Honest Men.
“We needed to start the week right, get three points,” he said.
“We need to get back to winning here because we were disappointed with the Queen of the South game, that shouldn’t have happened, but it’s how quickly you get back on track.
“We’re pleased, we have another tough game on Tuesday night and that needs to be another three points.”
Red Lichties shut-out
Saturday saw Dundee keep just their third league clean sheet of the campaign and their first since Arbroath last travelled to Dens on December 5.
That was despite the Red Lichties winning a first-half penalty, only to see Adam Legzdins save Michael McKenna’s spot kick.
The former Burnley goalie made just his second start of the season, as did Tottenham loanee Malachi Fagan-Walcott.
The Spurs man was an assured presence, but was guilty of tripping Jason Thomson in the area for the penalty, then picked up a hamstring injury in the second half.
Sam Fisher replaced him at centre-back, with Liam Fontaine missing after picking up an Achilles injury last week.
McPake was delighted to see his defence – which has come under fire this season – stand up strong despite disruptions.
He added: “At 0-0 at half-time Arbroath were well in the game and could have been in front but for a great penalty save from Adam.
“It was a deserved victory but it was far from comfortable. They are a good side and make it very hard for you.
“I’m just delighted to get the three points and a clean sheet that’s been wanted for so long.
“We limited their chances and we had a young kid coming on to replace another young kid at centre-back. That’s tough.
“Arbroath are asking questions of the goalkeeper and defence but they stood strong.”
Campbell: ‘You can’t miss a penalty’
Dick Campbell, meanwhile, bemoaned the missed first-half penalty as his Arbroath side suffered just their second defeat since the turn of the year.
He said: “When you come to Dundee, a full-time club with that budget, you can’t miss a penalty kick. That’s a certainty.
“Their two goals didn’t even hit the back of the net, both goals fell off our defender to a Dundee player. You wouldn’t say they were magnificently manufactured.
“They deserved to win, though, because they scored two goals. We didn’t test their goalkeeper enough in the second half.
“We’ve got Hearts next week so we go again. Well done to James McPake and his team, they deserved to win the game.”