Dundee have progressed to the Premier Sports Cup quarter-finals after a narrow 1-0 win over fellow Scottish Premiership side Motherwell.
Ashcroft’s effort 12 minutes from full-time ended the away side’s six-game winning run at Dens Park. Connor Shields hit the bar for Motherwell as stand-in ‘Well captain Liam Kelly made numerous saves to keep Dundee at bay. James McPake’s side will find out their last eight fate after Celtic v Hearts’ conclusion on Sunday.
Scotland head coach Steve Clarke watched Kelly last week in Motherwell’s 1-1 draw with St Johnstone and if he caught this display, the goalkeeper would be in his thoughts again. Jason Cummings and Christie Elliot went close for Dundee but ‘Well’s summer signing from QPR would not be beaten.
Jordan McGhee raced through one-on-one but again Kelly stood tall. Charlie Adam’s long-range drive was stopped too. McPake’s Dundee certainly had the better of the chances but Graham Alexander’s travelling party had the best one of the first half. Steven Lawless slipped Shields through on goal, but he smashed the bar inside the box.
Motherwell had won six games in succession at Dens Park prior to this meeting and eight overall against Dundee. But they were living dangerously at times on their latest visit, coming under siege in the second half especially. Cummings had the ball past Kelly but his effort was ruled offside.
Soon enough, Ashcroft forced one home. Paul McMullan’s corner found the defender in the box and he put Dundee into the next round of the Premier Sports Cup. It was no more than they deserved after a relentless second half of dark blue attacks. Here are three things we learned.
There’s a reason Motherwell pulled out all the stops to sign Kelly from QPR this summer after an inspirational loan spell last term. Kelly was immense between the sticks for Alexander and with Scotland number one David Marshall now third-choice at Derby County, he must be eyeing international recognition.
Motherwell have enjoyed their travels to Dens Park in recent times but that was not the story here. Shields’ miss in the first half at 0-0 was a turning point but Dundee deserved their win. If it weren’t for Kelly, it could have been more comfortable.
Having recently been promoted from the Championship, Dundee were given a huge lesson last weekend as Celtic thrashed them 6-0. A response was needed and McPake will be delighted with the one his squad handed him. They looked comfortable against an established Premiership side.
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