The Dark Blues went down narrowly to a 2-1 defeat by Hibs in Edinburgh this afternoon. Dundee had the better of the first half after falling behind to Martin Boyle’s early goal and deservedly equalised through a Marcus Haber header. However, Hibs recovered after the break and Simon Murray scored the winner just after the hour.
The Dark Blues made five changes from last week. Elliot Parish, Cammy Kerr, Kevin Holt, Faissal El Bakhatoui and Roarie Deacon came in and Scott Bain, Kerr Waddell, Jesse Curran, Randy Wolters and A-Jay Leitch-Smith dropped out. Hibs were unchanged after their midweek win at Kilmarnock.
The healthy travelling support looked on in dismay as former Dee Martin Boyle put Hibs ahead after only a minute. A Dark Blue move broke down on the half way line and BOYLE picked up the ball to run on, and burst through a challenge to score with a low drive from the edge of the penalty area across Elliot Parish and inside the far post.
Dundee looked vulnerable in the opening minutes when Hibs attacked, especially when Boyle left the wing to run at the defence. However, there was also evidence that the Dark Blues had the confidence and composure to pick their way through Hibs with patient and accurate passing. As the match developed it was those early positive signs for Dundee that were more significant as they dominated the midfield and Hibs fell out of the game.
Dundee’s equaliser after 20 minutes was deserved and no surprise. It featured outstanding assists from two Dees. First Faissal El Bakhtaoui made space for himself with a run in from the left before hitting a fine pass over the Hibs defence for Roarie Deacon on the right. The winger still had plenty to do and did it superbly. With hardly any space to exploit he skinned Lewis Stevenson and dinked an inviting cross into the goalmouth. Marcus HABER had no hesitation in accepting the invitation, directing his header across Marciano and into the net despite Hanlon’s attempts to clear.
The home fans became increasingly unhappy as Dundee continued to dominate in midfield, constantly helping themselves to the ball as Hibs struggled in the face of Dundee’s pressing. All of the composed play was coming from the Dee whose attacks repeatedly stretched Hibs defence. Frustratingly Dundee’s dominance didn’t produce any convincing chances and Hibs managed to hang on till the break.
After replacing Dylan McGeouch with Anthony Stokes in the first half Hibs made their remaining two substitutions at half time. Brandon Barker and David Gray both departed with injuries and were replaced by Deivydas Slivka and Liam Porteous. Hibs also switched to 3-5-2 with Paul Hanlon moving wider to the left to provide Lewis Stevenson with more cover against Deacon.
Both sides had a scare early in the half. Dundee came close when Hibs failed to clear a dangerous cross from Deacon. El Bakhtaoui’s shot from 12 yards looked sure to find the back of the net, but a wonderful save by Ofir Marciano kept the scores level. Hibs went up the park and Anthony Stokes diverted Hanlon’s cross shot into the net only for the assistant referee’s flag to signal offside.
A barging match broke out in midfield following a foul on Paul McGowan, and it almost escalated into a full scale brawl when Stokes appeared to punch Jack Hendry. The referee’s decision was that the two players were equally culpable and both were booked along with Hibs substitute Porteous for the original foul.
Hibs were playing with far more drive and intensity than in the first half when they had looked tired and out of sorts. Murray twice had dangerous efforts, a fierce angled shot that Parish blocked and a quick turn and scooped shot that flew well wide. Hibs were far more dangerous now but it was disappointing that the Dee made it too easy for them to score the winning goal after 62 minutes. Dundee lost possession trying to start an attack on the right. Stokes’ cross caught out the defence and Simon MURRAY peeled off his man into space to volley past Parish from 10 yards.
Mark O’Hara and Jesse Curran came on for Roarie Deacon and Cammy Kerr as Dundee also switched to three at the back; O’Hara played on the right of the defence with Curran at right wing back.
Dundee tried their best to get back on level terms, but could never quite regain the form of the first half against a Hibs team that had improved dramatically since half time. In the latter stages Hibs were the more dangerous team as they threatened to exploit the space Dundee left as they pushed for an equaliser. A low Hanlon cross flashed across goal and past the post, but neither keeper was called on to make any saves remotely near the quality of Marciano’s stunner from El Bakhtaoui.
A fifth successive defeat leaves Dundee at the bottom of the table, but this was a greatly improved performance after the tame home defeats against Motherwell and Hamilton. In the first half Dundee made a very good Hibs side look ineffectual. The Dark Blues were still very much in the game in a second half when Neil Lennon thought Hibs played their best football of the season. Two minutes of defensive slackness cost the Dee dearly, but there were many impressive moments, especially in midfield. The Dark Blues look a far better team than you would expect from the club in last place, but they will have to build on their attractive football and score more goals when they are dominating a match.
Gray (Porteous at half time), Ambrose, Hanlon, Stevenson
McGeouch (Stokes 34), Bartley, McGinn
Boyle, Simon Murray, Barker (Slivka at half time)
Unused subs: Laidlaw (gk), Matulevicius, Shaw, Fraser Murray.
Goals: Boyle (1), Simon Murray (62).
Booked: Porteous (foul on McGowan), Stokes (aggressive behaviour), McGinn (foul on El Bakhtaoui), Stevenson (foul on Curran).
Dundee FC 4-2-3-1
Kerr (c) (Curran 72), Hendry, Meekings, Holt
Deacon (O’Hara 60), McGowan (Leitch-Smith 79), El Bakhtaoui
Unused subs: Ferrie (gk), Moussa, Wolters, Waddell.
Goal: Haber (20).
Booked: Hendry (aggressive behaviour), El Bakhtaoui (foul on Boyle).
Referee: John Beaton. Assistants: Kylie Cockburn, Ivan Stankovic. Fourth official: Graham Beaton.
Report: James Christie.