Dundee and Ross County fought out a goalless draw at Dens Park this afternoon in a game that had far more mistakes than thrills. There was no shortage of effort but neither side could find the composure that might have brought a goal.
Dundee made two changes from last week’s defeat at Kilmarnock. Kevin Gomis returned in central defence, replacing Julen Etxabeguren. James Vincent dropped onto the bench with Jesse Curran coming in for his first league start in midfield. County were unchanged from their 2-2 draw at home to Hearts.
Both sides had half chances from corners in the first few minutes. County captain Andew Davies found himself unmarked 13 yards out but his hooked volley flew straight at Scott Bain. At the other end Jesse Curran dummied over a low Tom Hateley corner to let Craig Wighton shoot from 15 yards, but Scott Fox saved comfortably.
That set the tone for an uninspiring first half in which both defences looked vulnerable at times. The Dark Blue and Staggies attacks looked occasionally dangerous, but neither side could quite put a move together that would punish the defences.
County’s Dutch left back Kenny van der Weg swung in a dangerous cross that neither Michael Gardyne and Craig Curran could reach. A breakthrough for Dundee looked most likely to come from Cammy Kerr’s raiding down that same wing. He fired in a couple of promising crosses that no-one could get on the end of.
Midway through the first half County put together a neat move that gave Tony Dingwall room to shoot from the edge of the penalty area, but he blasted his shot too high. Craig Wighton did well to make space and run in from the right, only to hit his low cross ahead of Marcus Haber. From a corner Darren O’Dea glanced a near post header across goal and past the far post, yet again without a Dark Blue player attacking the ball.
Ross County did force the ball into the net just after the break. Davies headed past Bain, but the referee ruled the goal out for a two handed push on Darren O’Dea, a decision that the County players didn’t think was worth contesting. Davies was a threat again a few minutes later when the Dee defence failed to clear a corner, but stretching the Staggies skipper could only turn the ball into Bain’s gloves.
Craig Curran went close for County with a shot from wide on the left. For the Dee Craig Wighton missed even more narrowly with a first time shot from 22 yards after he was the only player to anticipate the path of an awkwardly looping high ball. Jesse Curran had a good run that was ended by a crude foul by Jay McEveley just outside the penalty area, but Tom Hateley hit his free kick straight at Fox.
Jesse Curran was then replaced by Faissal El Bakhtaoui as Paul Hartley tried to force a win with a more attacking formation. Sadly it didn’t work out. Like the visitors Dundee couldn’t settle on the ball in midfield and make passes that could hurt County. On the break County did find more space, but they repeatedly failed to do anything with it.
The longer the game went on the more it became a midfield battle of attrition with the foul count and bookings mounting. In quick succession both teams wasted great chances to win the game and from then on the goalless draw looked inevitable. First Christopher Routis bent his shot around the post after Liam Boyce’s flick had given him a clear shot from 10 yards. A Kevin Gomis challenge on the half way line then sent the ball flying over the County defence leaving Marcus Haber in the clear. He skillfully controlled the ball with his chest, had time to pick his spot but from 12 yards out hammered his shot wide.
The game opened up in the last 10 minutes as both teams tried to grab a valuable win, but nobody could find the quality or composure to create a winning goal. Scott Bain saved well from County substitute Alex Schalk’s header, and one of Dundee’s better moves ended with Cammy Kerr heading a McGowan cross across goal where it was cleared for a corner. A goal for either side would have been a surprise, however.
Some 0-0 draws are exciting and entertaining matches, but this wasn’t one of them. The previous four matches between the clubs produced 24 goals and endless talking points. After an unconvincing first half the two defences looked more convincing after the break. With both sets of midfielders and forwards misfiring it was hard to begrudge the defenders their clean sheets on a day when neither side could do enough to deserve three points.
Dundee FC 3-5-2
Gomis, Gadzhalov, O’Dea (c)
Kerr, Hateley (Vincent 84), McGowan, Curran (El Bakhtaoui 57), Holt
Unused subs: Mitchell (gk), Duffy, Loy, Williams, Ross.
Booked: McGowan (foul on Boyce), Gadzhalov (foul on Dow).
Ross County 4-2-3-1
van der Weg, McEveley, Davies (c), Fraser
Dingwall (Franks 76), Boyce, Gardyne (Schalk 61)
Curran (Dow 61)
Unused subs: McCarey (gk), Quinn, McShane, Dykes.
Booked: Boyce (foul on Kerr), McEveley (foul on Curran), Dow (foul on El Bakhtaoui).
Attendance: 4,742 (153 away supporters)
Referee: Euan Anderson. Assistants: Alastair Mather, Sean Carr. Fourth official: Bobby Madden.
Report: James Christie.