MARK STEWART will be cracking open the champagne but not until Dundee have secured their top-flight safety.
The striker was still looking sheepish clutching his man of the match bottle of bubbly as he spoke to the press once the dust had settled on a demoralising defeat against Aberdeen.
Yes, he had scored what turned out to be a consolation goal for the Dark Blues, but he admitted that, as someone who had only played 10 minutes of the game after coming on as a sub, he was not exactly deserving of the award.
In truth, being named the Dundee man of the match was to be damned with faint praise, so poor were the rest of the Dark Blues’ players against Aberdeen.
The result means Barry Smith’s side are still rooted to the bottom of the SPL table, nine points behind Ross County.
However Stewart insists the players firmly believe they can escape relegation and, once they do, the cork will be getting popped on that bottle of champagne.
He said: “To be fair, that is one of the first games in a while where we have not played well as a team. All the boys were sitting in the dressing room gutted and they are really hurting.
“It does mean a lot. I don’t want anyone thinking it doesn’t. The effort is there and they are absolutely busting a gut every day in training and each game.
“Maybe against Aberdeen we went about it the wrong way. The result didn’t go for us but they are a really good team.
“The boys maybe looked a bit leggy but we just need to move on and forget about it straight away. We have to start focusing on St Johnstone on Wednesday, prepare for that and pick up three points.”
He added: “I was embarrassed to pick up the man of the match award, to be honest. I appreciate it but I was only on the park for a few minutes. I will keep it until the summer and maybe crack it open with us safe in the SPL.”
On Saturday’s evidence, that champagne could stay in the bottle indefinitely.
Dundee would have fancied their chances against an Aberdeen outfit that had slumped in midweek to a 4-1 defeat at Motherwell, but instead it was the Dons who were in control throughout.
However, it could conceivably have been a different afternoon if Kevin McBride had not snatched at a shot with just 28 seconds on the clock with the chance going wide.
Aberdeen and their big travelling support were grateful for the let-off and should have had a goal of their own in the 23rd minute when the dangerous Jonny Hayes swung in a cross to the unmarked Scott Vernon but the striker could not convert.
The Dons suffered a big blow on the half-hour mark when Andrew Considine had to be stretchered off after breaking his leg, with the sickening crack being heard by fans in the Bobby Cox stand.
Dundee were struggling to fashion clear-cut chances but came close when Colin Nish fired in a thunderous 30-yard free-kick that flew just over Jamie Langfield’s bar.
However, the home side’s resistance lasted just one minute into the second half when Niall McGinn stabbed home from close range following a short corner.
Dundee survived a big penalty shout when Matt Lockwood appeared to bundle over Joe Shaughnessy but the Aberdeen fans were celebrating in the 69th minute when the prolific McGinn headed home from a Hayes cross to make it 2-0.
Many home fans immediately headed for the exits but those remaining saw Stewart reignite faint hopes of at least salvaging a draw when he pulled one back just two minutes after replacing Nicky Riley.
However McGinn sealed his hat-trick and killed off Dundee for good in the 89th minute when a fierce strike from Hayes could only be palmed upwards by Rab Douglas, with the Northern Irishman reacting first to prod the ball home.
Dundee boss Smith admitted his side were second best but he placed most of the blame on his own shoulders.
He said: “That was as poor as we have been all season and I will hold my hands up and say I got it wrong.
“I feel after the Celtic game when we were under a lot of pressure that there were some tired legs against Aberdeen.
“It was my decision to pick the team I did and in hindsight I should have changed it. But I will learn from that.”
Craig Brown said: “It was a good win, particularly after losing in midweek. I thought we were worth our win today and we might have had another couple.”