Dundee finally returned to winning ways with this vital victory over Inverness at Dens.
The Dark Blues had lost two and drawn two of their last four Championship matches, a run of results that had piled the pressure on boss James McPake.
However, this win moves Dundee up to fourth in the table and gives the under-fire manager some much-needed breathing space ahead of Saturday’s clash with league leaders Hearts at Tynecastle.
Return of former Dundee boss
Caley, who currently have former Dark Blues player and manager Neil McCann in interim charge while John Robertson is on compassionate leave, remain just two points above second bottom Ayr.
Dundee, who were without talisman Charlie Adam following his positive Covid-19 test last week, raced into an early lead through Max Anderson and then doubled their advantage just before the break with Jason Cummings netting his third goal in three games.
Caley pulled one back in the second half with sub Nikolay Todorov netting but Dundee held on to take all three points.
The first chance of the game fell to Dundee’s Paul McGowan in the sixth minute but the midfielder’s shot from the edge of the Inverness penalty area sailed well over the bar.
Shortly after, Declan McDaid hit a long-range effort that drew a fine diving save from Caley keeper Mark Ridgers.
However, the keeper was beaten in the 10th minute. Paul McMullan broke down the right before sending a tempting cross into Anderson.
Ridgers blocked the 19-year-old’s initial shot but the midfielder kept his cool to drill the rebound into the back of the net for his first goal for the Dark Blues.
Inverness had a chance of their own in the 17th minute but Dundee keeper Jack Hamilton was alive to the danger and made a vital block to deny Miles Storey.
The home keeper was called into action again as Shane Sutherland broke free but his shot was easily gathered by Hamilton.
Dundee then came close to extending their lead on the half-hour mark when a Cummings header from a Paul McGowan corner was bundled clear by Ridgers.
The Dark Blues were finishing the half strongly with Danny Mullen next to have an attempt on goal but his shot was blocked by Robbie Deas.
Anderson tried his luck with a low 25-yard shot with Ridgers doing well to tip the ball away for a corner.
Then, right on the stroke of half-time, the ball broke to Cummings in the Caley box and the striker made no mistake, tucking a shot away on the turn from six yards past the helpless Ridgers.
There was a lengthy stoppage at the start of the second half following a clash of heads between Mullen and Danny Devine with the Dundee striker having to be replaced by Osman Sow.
Inverness had a great chance to pull a goal back in the 56th minute when Storey raced clear with the Dundee defenders screaming for offside but Hamilton made a block from the front man’s shot at his near post.
Sow then had an opening when he was teed up by Cummings but the big Swedish striker was off balance and his shot from the edge of the box flew well wide.
However, there was a goal in the 75th minute when Caley’s Cameron Harper swung a cross in from the left with Todorov sending a powerful header past Hamilton.
Dundee nerves were jangling as Inverness pushed for an equaliser with Todorov heading wide deep in stoppage time.
‘I’m glad they got a goal because we showed character at the end’
However, McPake’s men held on for a vital victory with the manager full of praise for his players.
He said: “I am delighted. We knew what we would have been facing. I know Neil and I know the way he wants to play football.
“I saw the way they got after Hearts on Friday night. I thought when we settled into the game we were really good and we showed real quality.
“It is weird and I hate saying this as it sounds daft but in a strange way I am glad they got a goal because we showed character at the end to defend.
“I felt even after we had conceded we composed ourselves quite quickly and took hold of the game again.
“So I am pleased with my players. I just thought to a man tonight we were excellent.”
A disappointed McCann had no complaints about the result.
He said: “We didn’t deserve anything from the game.
“In the first 45 minutes we were second to every ball and we didn’t show the application we showed against Hearts.
“When you do that in this division you give yourself an uphill task.
“We made changes in the second half and we won second balls and the goal we scored we have been working on.
“It is one of those games you rarely see when so much of your game is off in terms of quality on the ball, competing, it just wasn’t there and I have no complaints in losing the game.”
Dundee – Hamilton, Fontaine, Mullen (Sow, 52), McGowan, McDaid, Ashcroft, Elliott, McMullan, Marshall, Anderson (Byrne, 87), Cummins (Afolabi, 91).
Subs not used – Legzdins, Kerr, Fagan-Walcott, Robertson.
Inverness – Ridgers, Duffy, Devine (McKay, 77), Deas, Harper, Welsh, Allardice (Carson, 45), Keatings, D. MacKay (Todorov, 61), Storey, Sutherland.
Subs not used – C. MacKay, Vincent, Nicolson, Fyffe.
Referee – Steven Kirkland