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James McPake encouraged by Dundee’s display against Hibernian

Dundee Photocall – Scottish Premiership 2017/2018 – Dens Park
(Image credit: David Young)

Dundee manager James McPake insists his side can take plenty of positives from the spirited display against Hibernian, despite bowing out of the Betfred Cup.

The Dark Blues made their Premiership counterparts work for the last-16 win, with Jamie Murphy scoring the only goal just before the break.

It was a marked improvement from the abject performance in the 2-0 Championship loss to Ayr United just a week earlier.

Dundee midfielder Paul McGowan made his feelings clear after that game in a candid post-match interview.

However, McPake admits the outing at Easter Road is something to build on ahead of their return to league action at home to Arbroath next Saturday.

McPake, whose team lost 4-1 at Hibs a fortnight ago in their final Betfred Cup group match, said: “I think the last time we were decent enough for 70 minutes but not to that level.

“And that was probably a stronger Hibs team today than it was. Minus Paul Hanlon that was probably as strong as they could go in my opinion.

“Last week against Ayr we were terrible, there were improvements all over the pitch on Saturday and there was a real desire to get after the ball, there was controlled aggression about us.

“I thought we picked up a couple of bookings unfairly, I think it was both teams being very competitive in the game. We were competitive and on the plus side of that, we weren’t at Ayr last week.

“We were soft but on Saturday we certainly weren’t soft, we fought our corner well.”

Murphy scored the only goal of a tight contest in the 44th minute. The on-loan Rangers playmaker fired an effort past Jack Hamilton from inside the area after latching onto Kevin Nisbet’s pass.

It was the Scotland international’s second goal in three games and Hibs head coach Jack Ross insists Murphy is now getting up to speed following a run of five straight starts.

He said: “It was an excellent goal from Jamie. We showed a few moments of quality in the game and that was one of them.

“He showed what he can do, he’s getting the benefit of playing consistently.

“He was ineligible against Rangers and then had a little injury, so this is the first time he’s really had a consistent run of games.

“We have challenged him to produce assists and goals, which he has been doing lately.”