Dundee face a difficult Scottish Cup fourth round replay in Inverness after a performance marred by defensive errors in the 2-2 draw against Caley Thistle at Dens Park this afternoon. An Aaron Doran goal gave the visitors a half time lead but the Dark Blues came back strongly after the break and goals from Sofien Moussa and Mark O’Hara put Dundee in charge. With a place in the fifth round tantalisingly close for the Dee George Oakley earned a replay for Caley Thistle with a late equaliser that left the Dee defence with red faces.
Dundee made three changes today. Darren O’Dea and Josh Meekings returned from illness and injury respectively in central defence, replacing Jack Hendry, indisposed through illness, and Kerr Waddell, who was on the bench. Sofien Moussa was also available after recovering from his injury, and started instead of the injured Marcus Haber. Caley Thistle’s only change was to field Charlie Trafford in the place of Liam Polworth.
Dundee started the game smoothly, without looking particularly dangerous. They were moving the ball around nicely and there seemed little to worry about. However, after 14 minutes the Dee gifted the visitors a head start in the game, with a goal that would infuriate coaches at any level. Brad McKay hurled a long throw into the penalty area. Darren O’Dea missed the header, Josh Meekings took a fresh air swipe at the ball and Aaron DORAN happily accepted the present, thrashing the ball past Parish.
While Dundee looked comfortable in mifdfield and attack the defence was far from convincing and had regular nervous moments from then on. The rest of the half consisted of Dundee pressing hard for an equaliser, and Caley Thistle looking dangerous on the break against the Dark Blues’ suspect defence. Scott Allan, hovering in the space between the strikers and midfield, was impressive and looked the most likely route back into the game for Dundee.
Allan forced the first save by Mark Ridgers, with a 23 yard shot that had plenty of power, but was too close to the keeper. A neat Allan pass then gave Sofien Moussa a chance, but his shot was blocked and A-Jay Leitch-Smith’s follow up volley was saved Ridgers.
Allan’s skillful run in from the right wing ended with Ridgers turning the fierce, low shot round the post. Moussa went desperately close from a corner, smashing his header against the underside of the crossbar with the ball coming down just the wrong side of the line.
In the last few minutes of the half there were close things at either end. Scott Allan’s magical reverse pass opened up Caley Thistle’s defence and Leitch-Smith looked to have done enough to score only for Mark Ridgers to pull off an outstsanding reflex save. In injury time the fragile Dundee defence offered up two more chances. Doran was allowed too much time and space to chip the ball to the far post where Meekings did well to turn the ball away before Connor Bell could score. Charlie Trafford then ran clear but Parish saved with his feet.
After a difficult first half that disappointed the home support Dundee got the fans right behind them with an equaliser only two minutes after the restart. The goal followed a Caley Thistle corner and showed how the Dee like to play from the back under Neil McCann. The corner was a simple catch for Parish and he started the attack by rolling the ball out for Josh Meekings. Cammy Kerr then caught Caley Thistle off guard by racing forty yards and sending Leitch-Smith into the penalty area, where he exchanged passes with Scott Allan before shooting. The final touch was applied by Sofien MOUSSA, who diverted the ball past Ridgers.
Dundee’s first half nervousness in defence returned and Parish had to save well at full stretch from a header by Connor Bell, who had been left unmarked. Once that scare was over the Dark Blues settled into control and Caley Thistle struggled to keep them at bay.
Faissal El Bakhtaoui came on for Scott Allan, playing in the same position, the hole behind the strikers. The substitute may have lacked Allan’s vision and passing, but was more direct and continued to pose problems for the visitors from that position.
It was no surprise when Dundee took the lead shortly after that change. Mark O’HARA picked up the ball on the half way line, and with Caley Thistle having switched off he raced through the midfield before arrowing a low shot past Ridgers from 20 yards.
With the lead at last and Caley Thistle often losing shape as they tried to push forward for an equaliser Dundee should have been able to see the game out safely. They looked the more likely side to score next but the defensive frailties returned to haunt them in the last few minutes. The defence missed a long ball, and Caley Thistle’s substitute John Baird was clear but couldn’t bend his shot round Parish from 10 yards.
Dundee didn’t learn from that escape and failed to deal with a simple ball dropping into the goalmouth after 87 minutes. Josh Meekings and Darren O’Dea left it to each other, only for George OAKLEY to take advantage, stabbing the ball high into the net from close range.
Inverness clearly fancied their chances against the Dundee defence and took risks in injury time as they chased a winner. However, it was Mark O’Hara who went closest to a final goal, sending a snapshot over the bar from 12 yards.
Dundee let their standards slip in midfield and attack today, but still did enough to win the game with some bright and pleasing attacking. The defence, in contrast, came nowhere near pass marks, conceding two goals that were simply embarrassing. If the Dark Blues are to go any further in this season’s Scottish Cup they must now do something they have never before succeeded in doing; they must win at Inverness’s Caledonian Stadium.
Dundee FC 4-3-1-2
Kerr, Meekings, O’Dea (c), Aurtenetxe
O’Hara, Kamara, McGowan (Wolters 85)
Allan (El Bakhtaoui 61)
Unused subs: Malherbe (gk), Holt, Curran, Waddell, Henvey.
Goals: Moussa (47), O’Hara (64).
Inverness Caledonian Thistle 4-4-2
McKay, Warren (c), Donaldson, Calder
Doran, Vigurs, Trafford (Polworth 58), Chalmers
Bell (Baird 81), Oakley
Unused subs: Esson (gk), Austin, Mulraney, Seedorf, Brown.
Booked: Vigurs (foul on Allan), Donaldson (foul on Moussa), Polworth (foul on McGowan), Calder (foul on Moussa).
Goals: Doran (14), Oakley (87).
Referee: Stephen Finnie. Assistants: Gordon Crawford, Ralph Gordon.
Report: James Christie.