Clean sheet may be vital for Dundee in huge relegation clash in Paisley

St Johnstone's Matty Kennedy and St Mirren's Jack Baird during a tie in October last year.
St Johnstone's Matty Kennedy and St Mirren's Jack Baird during a tie in October last year.

The battle of the Premiership’s bottom two, when Dundee head for St Mirren on Saturday, could be decided by which of the pair manage to record an all-too-rare clean sheet.

Not being able to complete a game without conceding is a big reason why the Dark Blues and the Buddies find themselves in such dire straits.

This week St Mirren do have two chances to record a shut-out because before Saturday, they face a trip to McDiarmid Park to play St Johnstone tonight.

However, going into that Perth visit they share a similar, if unwanted, record with Dundee.

In their last 17 outings the Paisley men have managed to keep the opposition at bay just twice.

Over that same period, the Dens outfit have gone just a single game without losing a goal.

Since a 4-0 home win over Hamilton in early December the only perfect defensive display came in the goalless draw when Livingston visited on Boxing Day.

That means, for either side, not conceding this weekend would provide a likely route to three points that, come the end of the season, may prove invaluable.

Despite the heartache of losing the only goal of the game in the sixth minute of injury time last week, Dundee can take heart from a performance against Celtic that was, in terms of defensive discipline, arguably their best of the campaign.

Boss Jim McIntyre went with five defenders for that game and, as well as it worked, the desire for three points could see him revert to a back four for this one.

Should the Buddies go down at McDiarmid Park tonight, with a one-point advantage going into Saturday, the chance to stretch that gap to four would surely see him opt for more attacking options.

Likewise, if tonight’s game sees St Mirren take anything, it would put them above Dundee, meaning McIntyre would have little choice other than to chase the three points.

Either way, with third-bottom Hamilton Accies picking up in recent weeks under their new gaffer Brian Rice, right now it looks like the highest Saturday’s losers will finish in the table is second bottom.

If finding a water-tight defence is an issue for both managers, so, too, is finding the back of the net at the other end.

That’s particularly so for Dundee, who go in on a run of three games without a goal.

Since on-fire Andrew Nelson got crocked while celebrating a goal in the win at Livingston last month, the goals have largely dried up.

The 21-year-old is back in contention for Saturday but is another lacking fitness and getting 90 minutes out of him would be a big ask.