Dundee stemmed the tide of Dundee United derby wins with a deserved draw at Tannadice.
The Tannadice men had claimed the bragging rights twice this season but it wasn’t all about them third time.
Such is the Tangerines’ lead at the top of the Championship – they are 14 points clear of second-placed Inverness Caley Thistle – United could afford this wee bump in the road.
However, it did bring to an end both their run of nine successive wins and their 100% home league record this season.
That won’t really bother Dundee boss James McPake, who will be more interested in a vastly-improved derby display from his players.
As for United gaffer Robbie Neilson, he will have wanted more from his team but will still be delighted to see 17 points still separating them from their neighbours in the table.
The roof was raised after just five minutes when the Tangerines took the lead with a cracker of a goal.
Nicky Clark flicked the ball up and over Dundee keeper Jack Hamilton in front of the Shed after the United frontman was picked out by Jamie Robson’s cross from the left.
However, the visitors equalised five minutes into the second half when Graham Dorrans netted his first goal for his club with a low drive from the edge of the box.
The Tangerines had made one change to the team that kicked off the 4-0 win over Ayr United the previous Saturday. Sam Stanton was absent and in came Louis Appere, who was on the bench against the Honest Men.
The Dark Blues were unchanged from the side that beat Partick Thistle down at Firhill.
Tannadice was packed to the rafters as the teams came out, with the home supporters putting on an impressive flag display.
United’s American owner Mark Ogren was in the stand watching his first derby as the action got under way.
Paul McGowan kicked off for the visitors and you could hardly hear yourself speak, such was the noise coming from all four sides of the stadium.
On five minutes, however, all the sound was coming from the home fans as United took the lead with a beautifully-worked goal.
The play went up the left side through Appere, who then fed the ball on to Robson on the overlap.
He fired the ball over to Clark, whose first-timed flick of the boot from six yards was sublime and the ball flew up and over the head of Hamilton into the roof the net.
There was a moment of controversy on 11 minutes when McGowan and Robson clashed down near the corner flag but referee Alan Muir took no action.
McGowan then had a chance to turn and shoot inside the box on 17 minutes but his strike was deflected for a corner that came to nothing.
Dundee’s Sean Mackie collected the first booking of the game on 20 minutes for what looked like a clash with United midfielder Ian Harkes’ inside the home team’s box.
The Dark Blues then squandered a good chance to level on 22 minutes when McGowan kept himself onside inside the area, controlled the pass from Fin Robertson but couldn’t squeeze his shot past goalie Benjamin Siegrist, who made a fine save.
The Dens men were having a go but the Tangerines seemed content to wait on an opportunity to pounce again.
On 35 minutes, a half-chance was created by the hosts when Robson delivered a cross from the left and Lawrence Shankland nodded over.
The Dundee bench were unhappy with some of challenges being made by United players, with a Calum Butcher tackle on Danny Johnson just in front of the technical area riling them in particular.
The home team had the final attack of the first half when Shankland had a shot blocked and the ball spun forward to Harkes, who also couldn’t make a clean contact.
A Harkes’ low drive towards the Dundee goal was blocked with Shankland lurking before the Dark Blues levelled on 50 minutes through Dorrans’ first goal for the club.
United failed to clear their lines and, when Liam Smith headed a Kane Hemmings cross straight to Dorrans at the edge of the area, the Dundee player took a touch before driving a shot past Siegrist.
The visitors had a spring in their step now and questions were being asked of the home team.
McMullan tried to find an answer with a low ball that was deflected for a corner on 59 minutes but it came to nothing.
Dundee brought on sub Andrew Nelson for Johnson on 62 minutes then, three minutes later, a McMullan cross was headed wide at the back post by Shankland.
Dorrans was booked for a late challenge on Smith before United scorer Clark’s strike from distance was diverted wide on 69 minutes.
The Tangerines brought on sub Adrian Sporle for goal hero Clark on 77 minutes as both sides continued to look for a winner.
Shankland looked for a second as though he might clinch it for United when he took possession inside the Dundee box with just a couple of minutes to go but his shot was easily held by Hamilton.
Dundee United: Siegrist, L. Smith, Reynolds, McMullan, Clark (Sporle 77), Robson, Butcher, Harkes, Shankland, Appere, Watson. Subs not used: Deniz, Connolly, C. Smith, Chalmers, King, Mochrie.
Dundee: Hamilton, Kerr, McGhee, Meekings, McGowan, Dorrans, Johnson (Nelson 62), Robertson, Mackie, Marshall, Hemmings. Subs not used: Ferrie, Forster, Todd, Byrne, Moore, Mulligan.
Referee: Alan Muir.