Former Dundee striker Simon Murray says the Dark Blues have given themselves a serious advantage in their promotion play-off push.
By finishing second, the Dens Park club lightened their load from a potential six matches to four.
And in doing so they’ll avoid burn-out says Murray, now plying his trade for League Two champions Queen’s Park.
He knows that only too well, having failed at the final hurdle of the play-offs while with Dundee United.
In their first season after relegation from the top flight, the Tangerines finished their Championship campaign in third place under Ray McKinnon.
They would find a route all the way to the final, very much thanks to the goals of Murray.
The former Arbroath man scored in each of the first four play-off ties to set up a date with Premiership side Hamilton.
However, the final didn’t go quite to plan for Murray. In the first leg he was dismissed for an apparent dive, though that was rescinded.
And in the second, Greg Docherty’s second-half strike was enough to keep Accies up and a tired United down.
Dundee fan Murray, who spent a six-month loan spell at Dens in 2018, said: “I’m really happy to see Dundee picking up form right now and they are probably the form team going into the play-offs.
“They went through a sticky patch earlier in the season but they’ve come through that well.
“Hopefully, they can keep that going through the play-offs and get back to the Premiership.
“That would be great for the city and, of course, for Dundee fans. We all want to see derbies in the top-flight next season.
‘The extra tie did for us’
“When I was at United, we finished third and had to get through all three rounds of the play-off. We had Morton in the quarters, then Falkirk and then Hamilton. It was really tough.
“I do think that extra tie did for us.
“I think having two games less could be a real benefit for Dundee over the next couple of weeks.
“In the first leg against Hamilton, we were the better side and should have won, definitely should have had a penalty.
“In the second leg we were really flat and I think those two extra games had an effect so it’s good Dundee won’t have that.
“I don’t think at the time you really realise just how mentally and physically draining those games are.”
Well-earned rest for Dundee players
Murray reckons the break will have done the Dark Blues wonders ahead of Wednesday’s semi-final against Raith Rovers.
And he considers them favourites to get to the final two matches next week.
He added: “I think Dundee will fancy themselves. They’ve had difficult games against Raith this season but they had quite a tough end to the season.
“Despite the time off, Dundee’s confidence will still be there. They have momentum from the end of the season and the mood in training will be really high.
“I’d say it will feel like a well-earned rest for the players and they’ll be buzzing to get back out there.”
Queen’s Park ‘really going places’
Murray, meanwhile, was training with his old club last summer, having returned from South Africa.
He was still recovering from a serious knee injury picked up at Bidwest Wits that kept him out of action for more than a year.
The 29-year-old revealed last year he had a number of offers on the table, some from the Premiership.
However, it was the concerted effort of ambitious League Two side Queen’s Park that swayed him as he rejoined his old Tannadice gaffer Ray McKinnon.
And he thinks he’s made a sound choice, having just lifted won promotion and the League Two title.
“It’s been great to be back playing after the injury. And to have such a successful season, too,” added Murray, who scored six goals in 11 appearances last season.
“Queen’s Park have been great in helping with the injury, allowing me time to get back on my feet and it’s a club that’s really going places.
“Even though it’s been such a successful season, I am disappointed it’s finished.
“I felt like I was just getting going and I’m already looking forward to next season.
“I didn’t get a pre-season last year so to get a full pre-season under my belt will do me wonders.
“The injury was hugely frustrating and I ended up out for 16 months.
“Then we had the two month break in the lower leagues because of Covid.
“That was a big hindrance for me because I had only just started to get back to fitness.”
‘Hugely disappointing players were put in that position’
Murray missed the final four matches of the season after picking up a slight hamstring injury against Elgin on April 20.
The injury came during the mad rush of fixtures for Leagues One and Two as they crammed in 13 matches in just six weeks.
That was after an enforced mid-season break because of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, Murray is unhappy the players were put in the position of playing so many matches, sometimes as many as four a week.
“I played four games in nine or 10 days and I just felt my hamstring go a little against Elgin,” he said.
“The manager decided it was best to just be cautious and, with the league already won, just said to take the rest of the season off.
“It was hugely disappointing the players were put in that position, having to play four times a week, to be honest.
“I don’t know how many injuries there were but fatigue is a huge factor in injuries. We had a couple to key players but were probably quite lucky.”