Dundee stumbled to a 2-0 defeat against bottom club Inverness Caledonian Thistle tonight in the final home match of the season. After the Dee’s place in next season’s Premiership was confirmed last night interim manager Neil McCann watched his team lose for the first time and will have seen little to please him, especially in defence. The Dark Blues never recovered from gifting the visitors two early goals. Caley Thistle may have ridden their luck occasionally in the first half, but Dundee’s defence looked like conceding a goal every time Inverness attacked. In a poor second half Caley Thistle held onto their lead comfortably to take three well deserved points and ensure the relegation battle will go to the final day.
The Dark Blues made only one change. Nick Ross kept his place after coming on for the injured Tom Hateley in Saturday’s draw against Ross County. Caley Thistle brought in Liam Polworth and Iain Vigurs, replacing Jake Mulraney and Henri Anier.
Dundee started sloppily on Saturday but the defence was even slacker in the first half tonight. Scott Bain carelessly dallied over a pass back in the first minute and hit his clearance off Billy McKay, with the ball cannoning inches wide.
The Dark Blue defence was still dozing only 30 seconds later when Liam Polworth turned the ball on for Billy MCKAY, in a surprising amount of space, to score easily from eight yards.
Dundee responded well, putting Caley Thistle under pressure, but in the visitors’ next serious attack Dundee’s defence went missing once again. Greg Tansey’s pass through the middle found Alex FISHER all on his own and he took the ball on his chest before scoring from 10 yards. It was a fine finish, but there was a conspicuous lack of defenders to trouble him.
This set the pattern for the first half. Dundee played some attractive attacking football, winning one corner after another but Caley Thistle’s defence held out. Every time the visitors ventured forward the Dark Blue support held their breath.
Darren O’Dea headed over twice from corners, and should probably have scored from the first. Faissal El Bakhatoui, Mark O’Hara, Cammy Kerr and Kevin Holt all sent over inviting crosses, to no avail. An El Bakhtaoui cross that was deflected narrowly past the post was the closest that Dundee came from these efforts.
The Dundee full backs were pushing far up the field and the centre backs always looked vulnerable with too much to do when Caley Thistle broke. Kevin Gomis did well to block a Billy McKay shot at the expense of a corner on the half hour. A second corner followed immediately and Dundee’s defence looked unconvincing as Scott Bain saved Ross Draper’s header.
The Dark Blues had a lucky escape when James Vincent lost the ball to Greg Tansey leaving Caley Thistle with three players attacking one defender. Fortunately for the Dee Tansey’s pass found Billy McKay in an offside position when Inverness should have helped themselves to a third goal. The sloppiness continued. A wayward pass across his own penalty area by Kevin Gomis went straight to Alex Fisher, who shot wide.
Late in the half Mark O’Hara set up a great chance turning Nick Ross’s pass on for Marcus Haber, whose shot squeezed under Ryan Esson, only to be booted clear by Gary Warren as it bobbled towards the goal line.
At half time young Daniel Higgins replaced Kevin Gomis. Dundee’s defence did look more comfortable, but Inverness were concentrating on holding onto the ball and protecting their lead. They did both all too easily. Dundee might have been very poor when the ball was in their own half in the first 45 minutes, but they did attack convincingly. Instead of a spirited fightback after the break the tempo, and the overall performance dipped badly.
Henrik Ojamaa replaced Marcus Haber after 54 minutes but never managed to get into the game. Mark O’Hara did get onto the end of an El Bakhtaoui cross, but sent his header straight at Esson. It was hardly a great chance, but it was the best that the Dark Blues could muster.
In a rare flurry of attacks Inverness won two corners, and Scott Bain had a straightforward save from Brad McKay’s header. For most of the second half Dundee stuttered to and fro in front of a resolute Caley Thistle defence, who continually forced their bodies in the way of every Dundee shot. In the half hour after O’Hara’s header the Dark Blues never again had a clear sight of goal and the match drifted to a conclusion with Caley Thistle under pressure, but facing no real threat.
Dundee FC 4-4-1-1
Kerr, Gomis (Higgins at half time), O’Dea (c), Holt
O’Hara, Ross, Vincent, El Bakhtaoui (Wighton 71)
Haber (Ojamaa 54)
Unused subs: Ferrie (gk), Williams, Dryden, Smith.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle 4-2-3-1
Brad McKay, Laing, Warren (c), Raven
Polworth, Billy McKay (Anier 65), Vigurs (McCart 88)
Fisher (McNaughton 84)
Unused subs: Hoban (gk), Mulraney, Ebbe, Cole.
Goals Billy McKay (1), Fisher (10).
Booked: Vigurs (foul on O’Hara), Anier (foul on Higgins).
Referee: Kevin Clancy. Assistants: Frank Connor, Sean Carr. Fourth official: Colin Steven.
Report: James Christie.