Dundee had their defence to thank for the point which moves them to within four points of St Mirren after drawing at Motherwell.

The visitors broke the deadlock through Nicky Riley's deft first-half finish against the run of play.

Motherwell levelled when Michael Higdon tapped home from close range after Rab Douglas palmed Henrik Ojamaa's shot into the path of the striker.

The home side dominated but couldn't find a way through the Dundee defence.

In a stuttering early period, Steven Milne went down as he cued up a shot at the edge of the Motherwell penalty area but, despite the striker's protests, nothing was awarded.

The match began to develop some sense of flow, mostly towards the Dundee goal, and veteran keeper Douglas had to parry 20-yard efforts from Keith Lasley and Nicky Law.

Jamie Murphy then curled a shot just past Douglas's left-hand post, while Gary Irvine had to acrobatically clear a 'Well corner off his goal-line with an overhead kick.

The home side were dominant, although the visiting defence were keeping them to shots from distance, with Law bringing out another save from Douglas.

And Motherwell were forced to pay for their lack of cutting edge when the ball came loose during a rare Dundee attack and Riley waltzed into the box and coolly slotted the ball into the corner of the net.

Dundee were seeing more of the ball in an attacking sense with confidence boosted by the goal, and Milne flashed an effort just wide after a neat turn at the edge of the area.

Motherwell were still creating more chances, but Higdon's header wide seven minutes before the break was their first effort from inside the box as Dundee continued to keep them at arm's length.

However, the Fir Park side should have levelled when Murphy connected with Hateley's low cross from the right, but the ball bounced off the striker's shin and wide from only six yards out.

But the home fans didnt have long to wait for a leveller, as Higdon tapped home the rebound from two yards after Douglas parried Ojamaa's initial effort.

The second half began in much the same vein as the first, with the home side enjoying the lion's share of possession, but unable to carve out clear opportunities in the Dundee danger area.

Time and again, the final pass let Motherwell down as Ojamaa, Higdon and Murphy were drawn deeper, with Dundee content to sit in and hit on the counter.

Dundee then carved out a terrific chance as Colin Nish was played through one-on-one with Randolph, but the big striker completely miscontrolled the pass and the keeper smothered the ball.

And Randolph had to pull off the save of the game after Milne's overhead kick deflected off a 'Well defender, with the Irishman stretching to tip it over the bar.

The closing stages remained a story of irresistable force against immovable object as Motherwell pushed for a winner, with Higdon's strike ruled offside and Ojamaa also going close.

However, Dens Park boss Barry Smith will be delighted at a defence which remained composed to claim a point.

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