Dundee couldn’t maintain their winning run of pre-season friendlies, losing 2-1 to English Championship Bolton Wanderers at Dens Park tonight. Wanderers had the better of the first half and took a two goal lead through Gary Madine and Josh Vela. Dundee came back well after the break and Paul McGowan pulled a goal back, but couldn’t force an equaliser.
The Dark Blues first attack featured a fine passing move down the right between Cammy Kerr and Craig Wighton. Scott Allan’s header from Kerr’s cross forced Ben Alnwick to save at full stretch.
The Dark Blues looked comfortable in possession but vulnerable to quick passes over or through the defence. Josh Vela ran clear onto a through ball, but lost his balance as Scott Bain raced out to close him down and lost the chance.
At the other end Mark O’Hara took a superb Wighton pass to run in on goal, but again the keeper was out quickly and Alnwick blocked. From the resulting corner Jack Hendry’s glancing header flew past the post.
After 20 minutes Wanderers went ahead with the simplest of goals. Centre back Mark Beevers launched a pass forward from deep inside his own half. The ball sailed over the Dee defence for Gary MADINE to collect and slide it past Bain to score. Wanderers almost found a quick second. Will Buckley’s volley was flying wide till it deflected off Jack Hendry but Bain reacted quickly to save.
The Dark Blues responded well to the setback and played some good skillful football as they attacked the visitors’ goal. However, it was Wanderers who scored, with another goal that the defence might have dealt with better. Josh VELA picked up the ball just inside the penalty area. He seemed unsure what to do next, so settled for rifling a fine shot across Bain and inside the far post.
Play swung from end to end and Dundee continued to attack with conviction. However, Wanderers looked like scoring every time they came forward. Buckley should have scored a third when he ran onto Darren Pratley’s pass but Bain saved again.
Bolton’s defence settled down toward the end of the first half, but Dundee’s young defence always looked vulnerable to the visitors’ fast passing.
When the second half opened it was Wanderers defence that was all at sea. Roarie Deacon replaced Craig Wighton at half time and caused some serious problems running at Bolton. Randy Wolters and Deacon swung over dangerous crosses in quick succession as play was largely confined to the Bolton half.
Substitute keeper Mark Howard had a couple of moments of confusion with his defenders but settled down to make some excellent saves. He did well to block a ferocious 22 yard angled shot from Randy Wolters when everyone had been expecting the Dutch winger to cross.
Midway through the second half Bolton made nine substitutions. Dundee continued to dominate, though they had a scare when Chris Taylor’s free kick from wide on the left flew across goal and past the far post.
Howard made another superb save turning away Faissal El Bakhtaoui’s curling 20 yard shot that was heading for the top corner. It was the Frenchman’s last contribution. He was then replaced by Marcus Haber, who should have scored within seconds of coming on. Kerr Waddell headed down a corner and Haber’s shot from point blank range was brilliantly saved by Howard.
After 76 minutes the Dee scored the goal they deserved, courtesy of two subsitutes. Tom Hateley played a beautiful pass through Wanderers’ defence and Paul McGOWAN ran in to whip the ball past Howard.
The Dark Blues continued to play well, with some good passing and crossing, but couldn’t find an equaliser. On the basis of the second half they would have deserved a draw, but Bolton could rightly claim that the their first half attacking justified their win. Dundee always looked composed and imaginative on the ball but in the first half their lack of experience in defence proved costly. The young defenders settled down well in the second half, however, and dealt well with Bolton’s attacks.
That completes the Dee’s pre-season campaign and they move on to Kirkcaldy on Tuesday night for the first of the League Cup matches. On the evidence of the pre-season friendlies they have prepared well for the campaign ahead.
Dundee FC 4-2-3-1
Bain (Gourlay 79)
Kerr (Hateley 75), Hendry, Waddell, Holt
Kamara (Spence 71), O’Hara (Curran 79)
Wighton (Deacon at half time), Allan (McGowan 71), Wolters (Williams 75)
El Bakhtaoui (Haber 71)
Goal: McGowan (76)
Bolton Wanderers 4-2-3-1 first 64 minutes
Alnwick (Howard at half time)
Darby, Wheater, Beevers, A Taylor
Buckley, Ameobi (C Taylor at half time), Vela
Bolton Wanderers 4-2-3-1 from 64 minutes
Little, Dervite, Brockbank, Lonsdale
C. Taylor, Osede
King, Le Fondre, Tabakovic
Goals: Madine (21), Vela (29).
Attendance: 2,227 (165 Bolton fans).
Referee: Alan Muir. Assistants: Gavin Harris, Chris, Phillips. 4th official: Craig Napier.
Report: James Christie.