Dundee lost out in their first home game of the season, going down 2-1 to Rangers at Dens Park. Harry Forrester and Kenny Miller gave Rangers a deserved two goal lead before Mark O’Hara pulled the Dee back into the match with his first goal for the club late in the first half. The Dark Blues were far more competitive in an open second half but couldn’t rescue a point.
The Dark Blues were unchanged after the opening day win at Ross County. Rangers made three changes from their draw with Hamilton: Danny Wilson, Harry Forrester and Jordan Rossiter replaced Clint Hill, Niko Kranjcar and Martyn Waghorn.
Rangers quickly settled into control in midfield and set the pattern for the first half with the Dark Blues forced back into deep defence. All Dundee had to offer in the opening exchanges was a fine run out of defence from Cammy Kerr, which was eventually stopped by a Danny Wilson foul.
The opening goal came after 13 minutes. Barry McKay and James Tavernier combined well on the right and when the Dee defence couldn’t clear the cutback the ball broke to Harry FORRESTER to hook it past Scott Bain. Kenny Miller almost broke through for an immediate second goal, but was stopped by a great Darren O’Dea tackle.
Rangers were enjoying the majority of possession with the Dark Blues restricted to occasional good runs by Mark O’Hara and Michael Duffy. The visitors’ dominance in midfield threatened a second goal, and it was deserved when it arrived. Lee Wallace burst into the box on the end of a clever McKay pass and cut the ball back for Kenny MILLER to score with a perfectly struck left foot shot from 15 yards.
Miller seemed sure to add a third goal when he ran clear and tried to take the ball round Bain, who kept the Dee in the game with a superb save at the veteran’s feet.
Rory Loy had been left largely isolated by Rangers’ control in midfield, but two minutes from the break he did well to win a corner on the right. Danny Williams swung the ball over for the unmarked Mark O’HARA to score with a powerful header from five yards. It was a goal that Dundee desperately needed to give them hope for the second half.
The Dark Blues still had to survive a narrow escape before the half time whistle. McKay twisted his way along the Dee byline and pulled the ball back for Miller, who was foiled again by O’Dea’s block.
Dundee were perhaps fortunate to reach half time only one goal behind. However, they were still in the match and steadily improved throughout a second half in which Rangers couldn’t maintain their first half dominance. It took a while for the Dark Blues to start threatening the Rangers’ goal as the match entered a long, messy spell. The Dundee midfield deserves credit for that scrappiness because they were now stopping Rangers playing their way through the middle of the park.
Harry Forrester was lucky to stay on the pitch after being booked and then committing two more bad fouls. Rangers sensibly removed him from the action, and also replaced Kenny Miller and Andy Halliday. The substitues Niko Kranjcar, Joe Dodoo and Michael O’Halloran struggled to get into the game and Rangers’ rhythm in midfield and attack was badly disrupted. Meanwhile the Dark Blues also used all their substitutes, sending on Nick Ross, Yordi Teijesse and Faissal El Bakhtaoui for James Vincent, Rory Loy and Michael Duffy.
The fondness of the Rangers defenders, especially the full backs, for pushing forward gave the Dark Blues opportunities to threaten the away goal. Without ever playing particularly fluently the Dark Blues at last started to look dangerous. After the ball broke to Danny Williams he almost managed to wriggle his way past Wes Foderingham but the ball stuck under his feet. The Rangers keeper then gifted Dundee a chance with a dreadful clearance straight to Williams who switched it to Yordi Teijsse but his shot was weak and Foderingham saved easily. The visitors’ defence never looked entirely happy at set pieces; Teijsse and Kevin Holt both sending headers just over as the Dark Blues pushed for an equaliser.
Faissal El Bakhtaoui showed some good touches, making space well but, like his teammates, couldn’t find the right final ball. The closest the game to a late goal was when Barry McKay broke away on the right and shot across Bain’s goal. Rangers’ instincts are to attack and while they were very impressive early on they were not as comfortable trying to keep the game tight and grind out a win. Nevertheless, they held out take the three points that they deserved over the full 90 minutes.
The Dark Blues did well to dig themselves back into contention after a first half during which Rangers threatened to run away with the game. If the Dee had got the break of the ball in the second half they might have sneaked a point. However, giving a side of Rangers’ quality a two goal started proved too high a hurdle to overcome.
Dundee FC 4-2-3-1
Kerr, Etxabeguren, O’Dea (c), Holt
Vincent (Ross 58), McGowan
Williams, O’Hara, Duffy (El Bakhtaoui 68)
Loy (Teijsse 68)
Unused subs: Mitchell (gk), Gadzhalov, Wighton.
Goal: O’Hara (43).
Booked: O’Dea (foul on Forrester), O’Hara (foul on Barton).
Tavernier, Kiernan, Wilson, Wallace (c)
Rossiter, Barton, Halliday (Kranjcar 63)
Forrester (O’Halloran 68), Miller (Dodoo 63), McKay
Unused subs: Gilks (gk), Hill, Hodson, Bates.
Goals: Forrester (13), Miller (38).
Booked: Wilson (foul on Kerr), Forrester (foul on O’Dea).
Referee: Craig Thomson. Assistants: Alistair Mather, Gordon Crawford. Fourth official: Barry Cook.
Report: James Christie.