ORAN Kearney was glad to see Gary MacKenzie make his long-awaited return to action in the win over Dundee, writes Martin McMillan.  

The 33-year-old defender was back in the side for the first time since last April after recovering from an Achilles injury.

He was as stunned as anyone inside the Simple Digital Arena when Sunderland loanee Ethan Robson swept in his first goal for the Taysiders within a minute of the kick-off.

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However, the hosts showed their mettle and in the 12th minute attacker Danny Mullen, starting for the first time since December 5, levelled from a Duckens Nazon cross.

Midfielder Brad Lyons, on loan from Blackburn, headed in his first St Mirren goal in the 58th minute and helped by former Dundee player MacKenzie, the Paisley side survived some late pressure to go two points clear of County with seven games left.

The Gazette: Brad Lyons netted the winner (photo: Allan Picken) Brad Lyons netted the winner (photo: Allan Picken)

Kearney said: “Gary is a top pro and he has worked extremely hard with Alex McQueen [physio] to get Kearney delighted to see MacKenzie make return back. It has been a long year. I have done those injuries myself and I know it is like when you come to that end point and you are itching to play again. Our form has been as good as it has been for the last six weeks and there hasn’t been the opportunity to put him in.

“He is a top pro, he hasn’t chapped my door once or asked questions, he has kept his head down and trained hard and waited his chance with Ethan Erhahon moving out [suspended] we rearranged it a bit and I felt it was the right moment to let Gary loose again. I felt his overall performance was outstanding, typified by the block he made in time added on when he throws everything at it.”

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“We have to do better,” said Dundee manager Jim McIntyre. “The second goal is ridiculous. We have men in place, we don’t pick up.

“It is a free header at the back post, a free run for the midfielder, our midfielder passes him on to our centre back who already has a striker to deal with and that is just not doing your job and we got punished. After that, St Mirren deserved it and the players have been told, if they want to get out of the situation they are in, they will have to stand up and be counted more than they did." 

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