Dundee continued their recent improved form with a close and hard fought 2-1 win over Inverness Caley Thistle at Dens Park. Craig Wighton put the Dee ahead with a beautifully taken goal in the first half and Kosta Gadzhalov added a second after an hour. Carl Tremarco pulled a late goal back for Caley Thistle, who had Lewis Horner red carded in injury time. The Dark Blues held out for a valuable win that lifts them to 7th in the table.
The Dark Blues were unchanged with the outfield 10 staying settled for the fourth consecutive match. For Caley Thistle Brad Mckay and Lanley Cole dropped out; they were replaced by Greg Tansey, returning from suspension, and Lewis Horner.
There was a strange scare for the Dee before the kick off. Paul McGowan went down clutching his shoulder and needed treatment. When the game did start Dundee were slow out of the blocks and the first five minutes were all spent in the Dark Blues’ half. The first serious move into the visitors’ half didn’t come till the Dee had the chance to launch a fast break after Cammy Kerr had blocked Billy King’s shot.
Marcus Haber and Craig Wighton were soon combining well with Wighton looking particularly dangerous and skillful. The Dee’s first half chance fell to Haber, whose header slipped wide after good work by Cammy Kerr to beat his man and cross.
Caley Thistle had their full share of possession, but repeatedly wasted it with wild shots from distance that gave the ballboys far more trouble than Scott Bain.
Midway through the first half Dundee took the lead with a goal that showcased Craig WIGHTON’s ability. Taking tbe ball from Tom Hateley 25 yards from goal be turned, ghosted away from his marker and curled a lovely finish round Williams in a style that was very reminiscent of one of Greg Stewart’s trademark goals.
Wighton was causing huge problems for Caley Thistle and was taking some heavy treatment for his impudence. The youngster should have won a penalty shortly after his goal when he spun on Darren O’Dea’s cross and was tripped. He tried to keep going and shot wide while off balance. Surprisingly Mr Dallas didn’t pull play back to award a spot kick. Another skillful run by Wighton ended with him being pulled back as Caley Thistle struggled to contain him.
After a spell in which Dundee were dominant Caley Thistle came back strongly towards half time. However, the visitors were hamperd by their inability to find the right final ball to finish off some good moves and also by more dreadful shooting from distance.
In first half injury time Caley Thistle came desperately close in a scramble from a corner, with the ball pinging around the goalmouth and no-one able to force it over the line.
Caley Thistle might have been allowed too much easy possession in midfield during the first half, but the Dark Blues pressed them more effectively after the break. Wighton was still a constant threat, and could have been even more dangerous with better protection from the officials.
Paul McGowan went close with a deflected shot from 18 yards that spun past the post following a corner. It was another set piece that led to the vital second goal. Cammy Kerr was fouled on the touchline 18 yards from the corner flag. Tom Hateley fired over a superb free kick and Kosta GADZHALOV rose to crash in an unstoppable header from 10 yards. The defender took off on a celebration run that only ended when he exchanged high fives with the manager 60 yards away.
Once the Dee had a two goal lead James Vincent, who had been booked, was replaced by Danny Williams. Caley Thistle might have quickly pulled a goal back from a corner, only for Paul McGowan to twist on the goalline to head Doumbouya’s header away.
Owain Fon-Williams made the save of the match to prevent an own goal by Josh Meekings, whose wild slice at a Hateley cross was zipping into the net. Wighton went close again, shooting wide after starting the attack with a marvellous pass that sent McGowan clear on the right.
Fon-Williams again saved well to beat away McGowan’s fierce cross shot and that save might have proved vital; Caley Thistle raced up the park to pull a goal back. Lewis Horner’s deep cross from the right found Carl TREMARCO coming in beyond the far post, and his header back across goal wrong footed Bain.
Caley Thistle threw everything at the Dundee defence in the last few minutes, but the Dark Blues held firm. Julen Etxabeguren came on for Marcus Haber after 89 minutes to provide some added steel in midfield. The home fans might have craved a nice quiet three minutes of injury time, but the added time brought some uncomfortable excitement.
First O’Dea was adjudged to have climbed over Doubouya 20 yards from the Dee goal. Tansey’s free kick bounced off the defensive wall to safety. The ball was cleared to Craig Wighton who raced across the half way line with a clear run at goal. Sadly Lewis Horner foolishly pulled him down 25 yards from goal. With 30 seconds of injury time left the foul guaranteed a Dundee win, and meant Horner picked up an inevitable red card that rules him out of his club’s next game. Tom Hateley’s free kick struck the wall and the final whistle sounded.
Dundee’s last win in the league over Inverness was an astonishing 11 years and 10 months ago, in January 2005. After 18 unsuccessful attempts that particular monkey has now been shrugged off Dundee’s back. With Dundee starting the day at the bottom of the table any win would have been gratefully received. In the circumstances grinding out three points against the most bogeyish of bogey teams was a huge relief.
This was no classic, and Dundee didn’t play as well as they did in the last home match against Motherwell. However, yet again they showed good organisation, hard work and a determination to ensure that the Dark Blues didn’t come off second best in the physical battles. The whole side played their full part, but Craig Wighton deserves special praise for keeping his head after taking some harsh treatment and continually unsettling Caley Thistle with cool skill and invention.
Dundee FC 3-5-2
Gomis, Gadzhalov, O’Dea (c)
Kerr, Hateley, McGowan, Vincent (williams 63), Holt
Haber (Etxabeguren 89), Wighton
Unused subs: Mitchell (gk), Loy, Duffy, El Bakhtaoui, Curran.
Goals: Wighton (24), Gadzhalov (60).
Booked: Vincent (simulation), Hateley (foul on Mulraney), O’Dea (dissent).
Inverness Caledonian Thistle 4-2-3-1
Horner, Warren (c), Meekings, Tremarco
Vigurs (Cole 81), Tansey
Doran (Boden 74), Draper, King (Mulraney 65)
Unused subs: Esson (gk), Sutherland, MacRae.
Goal: Tremarco (80).
Booked: Doumbouya (dissent).
Sent off: Horner (denying Wighton a goal-scoring opportunity).
Attendance: 5,094 (204 away fans).
Referee: Andrew Dallas. Assistants: Graeme Leslie, David Roome. Fourth official: William Collum.
Report: James Christie.