St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson praised Shaun Rooney for his role in the Dens Park fightback that has kept Dundee at bay and closed the gap on the two clubs above the Perth side.
After an underwhelming first half for the visitors, Hampden hero Rooney was switched from wing-back to centre-half as Saints sought to get back into a contest they were trailing in.
The defender helped drive Davidson’s men on to a much-improved display after the break and headed home the crucial equaliser.
“We’ve missed him this season,” said the McDiarmid Park boss. “Especially in both boxes.
“I thought his second half performance was excellent when I moved him to right centre-half.
“He led the players and I’m delighted he got his goal.
“He’s going to be a valuable player over the next four games.
“It was a tactical change to bring Tom (Sang) on for Dan (Cleary).
“Tom’s an attacking wing-back and I thought we were getting stuck a little bit. He gave us that little edge going forward, which helped.”
Davidson revealed that it wasn’t an old-fashioned half-time team-talk required in the away dressing room.
“I told them to relax, show composure and move the ball quickly,” he explained.
“That was the message – not a kick up the backside.
“We didn’t move it quickly enough and had struggled to break them down.
“I asked for better tempo and more energy in the second half and I got that.
“We played forward and worked off our strikers.
“The football was excellent and we deservedly got back into the game.”
The longer the game went on, the greater the stick or twist dilemma became.
“It was a really hard one,” said Davidson. “Do you want the point or do you go for the three?
“I could sense some hesitation from my players there.
“Once we scored we went back on our heels a little bit. I’d like to see us more on the front foot, playing positive football.
“But I’m delighted with the courage and the character shown after going 1-0 down.
“They could have collapsed. Credit to my players.”
Huge game next week
The Premiership table looks better for Saints going into next weekend’s clash with St Mirren than it did before the Dundee game.
“We’re five points ahead of Dundee still and now five points behind St Mirren and Aberdeen,” said Davidson.
“It’s a huge game next week.
“I want to see us show the courage to go and play, not just fight for second balls. Get us into areas where we can created chances.
“Hopefully we can do that in the coming games.”
— St. Johnstone FC (@StJohnstone) April 23, 2022
Saints brought over 2,000 fans with them to Dundee and they certainly played their part, according to Davidson.
“Big thanks to the travelling support,” he said. “They were right behind us – very noisy and helped us through the game and get the point.”