Scott Allan’s goal at the start of the second half was enough for Dundee to secure a 1-0 win in the Scottish Cup 4th round replay against Caley Thistle in Inverness. The match was played in atrocious conditions but the Dee dug deep to ensure that they will face Motherwell in the next round.
Paul McGowan and Josh Meekings were injured and so Scott Allan and Kerr Waddell kept their places after coming off the bench on Saturday. Caley Thistle made only one change to the team they fielded in the first match; Liam Polworth replaced Charlie Trafford.
The game kicked off in unpleasant conditions that soon became utterly vile. The driving rain, biting wind and rutted, muddy, sandy pitch made good passing football impossible. A costly mistake for either side always seemed only a slip away.
A fleeting tangle in the Dundee defence allowed George Oakley to register the first shot but he missed by several yards from the corner of the penalty box. That set the tone for a forgivably scrappy first half with regular mistakes from which nobody could profit.
Dundee had difficulty exerting control in midfield, where Caley Thistle had an extra man, though the brutal elements were always the real master. When Dundee moved the play into the final third they looked dangerous. Home keeper Mark Ridgers was called on to make good saves twice within a few minutes. First he saved from A-Jay Leitch-Smith, who shot from 12 yards after he took part in a fast break with Faissal El Bakhtaoui and Sofien Moussa. Next Ridgers did well to beat away Moussa’s fierce drive after the Dee centre forward dribbled into a shooting position.
As conditions worsened the mistakes inevitably increased. The Dark Blues still posed the greater threat. After being put through at an angle, wide of goal, by Scott Allan, Moussa chipped past Ridgers but Leitch-Smith couldn’t make clean contact with his header and somehow returned the ball to the relieved, grounded keeper.
Caley Thistle were struggling to make clear chances, but they were always very much in the game. So long as they could get the ball into the penalty area there was always the distinct possibility that they might profit from a mistake. Caley Thistle did think they had a plausible penalty claim when Aaron Doran went down, but the referee Mr Finnie, disagreed and flashed his yellow card for a dive.
Dundee made a half time substitution, with Lewis Spence replacing Faissal El Balkhtaoui, a change that strengthened the midfield and allowed the Dark Blues to play the more effective football through the muds and ruts.
Two minutes into the second half Dundee broke quickly across the half way line. A-Jay Leith-Smith set up Scott ALLAN, who stepped inside to open up space and passed the ball across Ridgers and inside the post from 16 yards.
To the relief of everyone the rain eased off and the wind dropped slightly early in the second half. Good football was still very difficult, but both teams tried their best.
The Dark Blues seemed certain to add a second from a corner that Ridgers couldn’t hold, but Caley Thistle escaped in a remarkable goalmouth stramash that saw Mark O’Hara’s shot blocked on the line, A-Jay Leitch-Smith’s follow up knocked onto the bar by a defender, and then Jack Hendry’s effort kicked off the line. A couple of minutes later Hendry just failed to connect with an Allan free kick at the far post after a deflection took it out of his reach.
Shortly after the hour Caley Thistle put together their most dangerous attack thus far and Iain Vigur’s shot from 18 yards was deflected wide for a corner. However, Caley Thistle couldn’t build any momentum or put Dundee under sustained pressure. The Dark Blues looked more likely to add to their lead than be pegged back.
Ridgers had to tip over a 30 yard free kick from Allan that must have been moving wickedly in the wind. The Dee had several promising attacks, but too often they tried to set up a perfect chance, or even walk the ball into the goal. Leitch-Smith brought out a good save from Ridgers after a lucky break left him with a shooting opportunity. Ridgers soon surpassed that save, foiling Allan when the Dee’s match-winner tried a repeat of his goal, but from slightly further out.
As the match ended the closing stages Sofien Moussa should have sealed the win, but from two yards out he somehow missed with his header from Allan’s free kick. At the end Elliot Parish made his best save of the night, turning Daniel Mackay’s 25 yard shot away for a corner.
Caley Thistle tried frantically to get at Parish’s goal in injury time, even sending Ridgers forward for a corner, but couldn’t open up the Dundee defence, repeatedly failing to find the right final pass or cross.
Dundee made a little bit of history tonight, winning at the Caledonian Stadium for the first time. A cup replay on a horrible January night could easily have had an unhappy ending, but the players fought the conditions manfully, and handled a difficult, eager, Caley Thistle well. It was hardly a cup classic, but Dundee did exceptionally well to emerge successfully from this cup tie, and with a clean sheet too. It was a long haul up the A9 and back for the fans, but the players didn’t let them down and rewarded their loyalty.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle 4-4-2
McKay, Warren (c), Donaldson, Calder (Daniel Mackay 82)
Doran (Mulraney 66), Vigurs, Polworth, Chalmers
Bell (Baird 66), Oakley
Unused subs: Esson (gk), Seedorf, Trafford, Brown.
Booked: Doran (simulation), Brad McKay (foul on Moussa), Vigurs (foul on Kamara).
Dundee FC 4-3-3
Kerr (c), Hendry, Waddell, Holt
O’Hara, Kamara, Allan
Leitch-Smith, Moussa (Deacon 84), El Bakhtaoui (Spence at half time)
Unused subs: Malherbe (gk), O’Dea, Aurtenetxe, Wolters, Lambert.
Goal: Allan (47).
Booked: Hendry (foul attacking a corner), O’Hara (foul on Donaldson).
Referee: Stephen Finnie. Assistants: Gordon Crawford, Ralph Gordon.
Report: James Christie.