Dundee had to settle for a point in a 1-1 draw at home to Kilmarnock this afternoon. Veteran striker Kris Boyd gave Killie an early lead only for the Dark Blues to draw level with a Kevin Holt goal midway through the first half. Both side tried hard to win in miserably cold conditions, but neither team could find a winner in an open second half.
The Dark Blues made one change from the team that drew in Inverness last Saturday; Kosta Gadzhalov came in for Julen Etxabeguren. The visitors made two changes; striker Connor Sammon replaced midfielder Steven Smith as Killie switched from 4-2-3-1 to 4-4-2.
After a quiet start Killie took the lead with a goal that embarrassed the Dundee defence with its simplicity. A long ball evaded everyone in Dark Blue allowing Kris BOYD to run clear, round Scott Bain and score despite Kevin Gomis’s best efforts to get back and clear.
Kilmarnock’s youthful midfield was playing some neat passing football and providing effective support to their far more experienced strike force. Dundee endured some uncomfortable moments after the goal and the situation might have quickly got even worse. Boyd was left unmarked at a free kick but he mistimed his header and sent the ball backwards.
The Dark Blues gradually pulled themselves together and started to exert pressure on Killie’s defence. Mark O’Hara passed up a great opportunity to equalise when Marcus Haber’s clever turn and pass sent him through on goal, only for Freddie Woodman to save with his feet.
Dundee’s equaliser, like the Kilmarnock goal, came out of the blue. After 26 minutes Cammy Kerr picked up the ball from a throw in, not far inside the Killie half. He floated a long cross over the Kilmarnock defence, which had switched off and failed to notice Kevin HOLT racing in on the far side; the wing back scored with a marvellous, controlled, low volley from 15 yards.
Kilmarnock continued to rack up impressive possession statistics as they passed the ball around in midfield hoping to find an opening, but Dundee looked the more dangerous side with fast attacks when they had the ball. A low drive from 20 yards by Henrik Ojamaa was heading inside Woodman’s right hand post but the young keeper, on loan from Newcastle, pulled out a fine save to tip the ball wide. Another break ended with Paul McGowan shooting wide after Marcus Haber’s header had struck a defender.
The second half started with Kilmarnock finding the form that had unsettled Dundee early in the first half. Henrik Ojamaa went close with a shot from distance following a good run, but the serious goal threat came from Killie. A poor backpass by Darren O’Dea put Bain under pressure, and the Dee keeper had to drag the ball round the onrushing Boyd and clear. Kosta Gadzhalov then saved the Dark Blues twice in quick succession. Sean Longstaff seemed certain to score from Jones’ cutback but Gadzhalov flung himself into the path of the shot. Within a minute a deep cross gave Connor Sammon the chance to bundle the ball past Bain, but Gadzhalov cleared the half hit shot off the line.
As in the first half Dundee started to play their way into the match without ever being able to control the game a game that became increasingly open in the last 30 minutes. Killie started to move the ball forward more quickly, as Dundee continued to do, but neither team could find the composure to set up good chances.
Marcus Haber had three opportunities that could hardly be called half chances. He headed over from a Hateley cross, volleyed wide from an Ojamaa cross, and then couldn’t quite reach Kerr’s low ball across goal. Kilmarnock, for their part, also had openings that were barely real chances. Scott Bain had to grab a low cross from the dangerous Jordan Jones, who had burst clear on the left. Kris Boyd turned a low, deep corner over the bar, but it would have been a remarkable finish if he succeeded.
Apart from that, play fizzed from end to end with no-one able to find the right pass or cross to open up the defences. Dundee switched to 4-4-2 for the last 20 minutes. Kevin Gomis was withdrawn to let Craig Wighton come off the bench and he caused Kilmarnock problems with his skill and direct running down the left.
In the last few minutes Gadzhalov came closest to a winner when his far post header from a Klok cross was blocked by Woodman’s knees. Rory McKenzie forced Scott Bain to tip over a rising shot from 22 yards after a good run. Faissal El Bakhtaoui came on for the last few minutes and was quickly involved. He sent an angled drive narrowly wide and in injury time saw his effort from the edge of the penalty area easily taken by Woodman. Right at the end of injury time Marc Klok, who had replaced Tom Hateley midway through the second half, sent a curling shot over the cross bar following a good run on the left by Wighton.
At the end Dundee could have no complaints about the draw. They always looked capable of fashioning the chance that would have brought a winner, but Kilmarnock had spells at the start of each half during which they dominated and would have deserved more than the one goal. Both teams deserve credit for trying their hardest to win the game in freezing rain and sleet. It was hardly a classic; there were too many errors, and little composed, attacking football. But the players did enough to ensure the match was far from boring. So tight is the bottom six that the single point lifted Dundee three places to 7th place, but still only three points above Hamilton in the play-spot, 10th place.
Dundee FC 3-5-2
Gomis (Wighton 72), Gadzhalov, O’Dea (c)
Kerr, Hateley (Klok 66), O’Hara, McGowan, Holt
Ojamaa (El Bakhtaoui 85), Haber
Unused subs: Ferrie (gk), Vincent, Williams, Ross.
Goal: Holt (26)
Booked: McGowan (foul on Jones), Gadzhalov (blocking goalkeeper’s clearance), Holt (foul on 85).
Kilmarnock FC 4-4-2
Hendrie (Addison 31), Wilson, Ajer, Taylor
McKenzie, Dicker, Longstaff, Jones (Roberts 87)
Kris Boyd (c) (Tyson 87), Sammon
Unused subs: MacDonald (gk), Scott Boyd, Umerah, Martin Smith.
Goal: Boyd (8).
Booked: Longstaff (foul on O’Hara), Sammon (foul on Gomis), Tyson (foul on Haber).
Referee: Alan Muir. Assistants: Gavin Harris, Mark McLean. Fourth official: Craig Charleston.
Report: James Christie.