Dundee went down to a 3-1 defeat at home to Aberdeen at Dens Park today. Kevin Holt gave the Dee an early lead after a great move, but James Maddison quickly equalised with a shot from 22 yards. Dons’ substitute Jayden Stockley scored the crucial second after 76 minutes and Kenny McLean completed the scoring with a late, controversial penalty. Mark O’Hara’s sending off for a second booking right at the end completed a frustrating afternoon for the Dee.
The Dark Blues made two changes. Julen Etxabeguren replaced the suspended Kevin Gomis, and Danny Williams came in for Craig Wighton on the left flank. The Dons’ only change was James Maddison replacing Wes Burns in midfield.
Aberdeen started off on the attack, playing down the slope towards their own fans in the Bob Shankly Stand. Every attack seemed to switch to the left as they repeatedly probed the right of the Dee’s defence.
In spite of the Dons’ pressure it was Dundee who took the lead with a fine team goal after 12 minutes. The Dark Blues worked the ball up the field in a neat passing move that ended with Nick Ross playing Kevin HOLT into space with a backheel. The left back drilled a first time shot across Joe Lewis from 15 yards and into the corner of the net.
After scoring such a good goal Dundee could only hold onto their lead for six minutes before giving away a poor equaliser. James MADDISON spun on a loose ball 25 yards from goal and scored with a low shot that Scott Bain really have saved.
The rest of the first half continued in the same style with Dundee conceding territory to Aberdeen and trying to hit them on the break. The tactic was fairly successful with the Dark Blue defence handling the Dons’ attacks well and the better chances coming Dundee’s way.
Paul McGowan found space in the penalty area and rolled the ball across for Mark O’Hara, whose shot from 16 yards was charged down. A fast break from a corner ended with El Bakhtaoui curling a shot narrowly past the post from 20 yards. Aberdeen, with more possession, were struggling to find the right final ball against Dundee’s well organised defence.
Dundee’s tactic of sitting back meant the Aberdeen back three saw plenty of the ball, and they were often guilty of careless passing, or being caught in possession. When the Dons gave the ball away at the start of the second half Paul McGowan ran through but couldn’t get a shot on target after being forced wide.
Aberdeen came desperately close to taking the lead when Dundee uncharacteristically gave the ball away just outside their penalty area. Graeme Shinnie smashed a shot from 25 yards that Bain managed to touch onto the crossbar, and within seconds was booked for chopping down Cammy Kerr – an unhappy 30 seconds for the Dons’ captain.
The game opened up as Aberdeen started to chase a winner. Niall McGinn set up a great chance, sending Maddison through with only Bain to beat, but the Dee keeper spread himself to pull off a great save. Aberdeens increasingly urgent attacking resulted in more mistakes and Dundee had more opportunities get forward as the Dons gave the ball away. El Bakhtaoui might have had a penalty when he was bundled over from behind by Considine as he tried to shield the ball. O’Hara went close with a neat piece of skill when he pulled a high ball down and hooked a shot just over the bar. The Aberdeen defence had a lucky escape when El Bakhtaoui robbed O’Connor, but his attempted cutback rebounded fortuitously off a defender to keeper Lewis.
After 73 minutes Aberdeen replaced Niall McGinn and Adam Rooney with Wes Burns and Jayden Stockley. The change paid an immediate dividend, though the really significant switch was Jonny Hayes moving to the right. After failing to get much joy out of Cammy Kerr the Dons’ winger caught out Kevin Holt as he raced to the byline. The cross was perfect for STOCKLEY to score with a powerful header from six yards. Adam Rooney must have been watching somewhat ruefully from the bench after he’d spent his afternoon chasing inaccurate crosses that had left him without a sniff of a chance.s
Craig Wighton had already replaced Danny Williams, and late on we saw Michael Duffy and Rory Loy coming on for the holding midfielders, Nick Ross and Tom Hateley. As the Dark Blues chased an equaliser they were caught out on the break for a rather harsh third Dons’ goal. Julen Etxabeguren seemed to have cut out the danger with a well timed tackle on Wes Burns, but surprisingly Mr McLean pointed to the penalty spot and booked the unfortunate defender. Kenny MCLEAN took the spot kick, and hammered the ball against the crossbar, with the ball eventually crossing the line after hitting the bar a second time.
The disappointing end to the game continued with Mark O’Hara picking up a second yellow card in injury time. Neither of his bookings were for particularly bad fouls; there were plenty of worse offences in a physical match and there were several players who looked more plausible candidates for a second yellow.
Dundee clearly had a game plan to soak up pressure and hit Aberdeen when the visitors’ moves broke down. For much of the match it worked, though the midfield didn’t always get up to support El Bakhtaoui quickly enough. There’s no doubt Aberdeen came much closer to breaking the second half deadlock before Stockley’s goal; it took two great saves by Scott Bain to keep the Dee in the game. However, on another day the Dee could well have earned a draw, or even a win, but the supporters will have to wait longer for the first home win.
One notable feature of the game was the way Cammy Kerr came under fierce and sustained pressure, especially in the first half. He was booked after just 21 minutes and Aberdeen targetted him relentlessly, hoping to force a red card. Kerr stood up to the onslaught manfully, coping well with the dangerous Jonny Hayes. In fact Kerr did so well that more fouls were committed against him than he conceded, with two Dons’ players booked for bad challenges on him.
Dundee FC 4-2-3-1
Kerr, Etxabeguren, O’Dea (c), Holt
Hateley (Loy 86), Ross (Duffy 80)
O’Hara, McGowan, Williams (Wighton 68)
Unused subs: Mitchell (gk), Vincent, Low, Gadzhalov.
Goal: Holt (12).
Booked: Kerr (foul on Hayes), O’Dea (foul on Shinnie), O’Hara (fouls on Hayes & Shinnie).
Sent off: O’Hara (two yellows).
Aberdeen FC 3-4-2-1
O’Connor, Taylor, Considine
Logan, Shinnie (c), McLean, Hayes
McGinn (Burns 73), Maddison (Craig Storie 82)
Rooney (Stockley 73)
Unused subs: Alexander (gk), Reynolds, Pawlett, Miles Storey.
Goals: Maddison (18), Stockley (76), McLean (87 pen).
Booked: O’Connor (handball), Hayes (foul on Kerr), Shinnie (foul on Kerr), Burns (dissent).
Referee: Steven McLeam. Assistants: Graeme Stewart, Graeme Leslie. Fourth official: Alan Muir.
Report: James Christie.