Dundee played out a goalless draw at Dens Park against Kilmarnock this afteroon. The game offered little to excite the fans and sprang to life only in the last 10 minutes during which captain Darren O’Dea was sent off. Despite that the Dark Blues held on to end a run of five defeats and earn their first clean sheet in the league this season.
The Dee made three changes from the team that went down narrowly away to Hibs. Jon Aurtenetxe made his first start while Darren O’Dea and Mark O’Hara returned to the starting line-up. They replaced Kevin Holt and Josh Meekings, who were on the bench, and Lewis Spence, who was injured. Killie sent out the same team that beat Hearts in their last game.
The first half was astonishingly devoid of anything for to enliven the fans. Cammy Kerr had the first shot, after 23 minutes, sending the ball high and deep into the Bob Shankly Stand from 25 yards. Killie’s Jordan Jones was no more accurate with a similar effort. In any normal game such efforts would hardly have been worth mentioning and when Jones was booked for a routine body check on Glen Kamara on 34 minutes it was the first genuinely noteworthy incident.
Six minutes from the break Marcus Haber’s header from a Glen Kamara cross was on course for the top corner, but Jamie MacDonald had time to save comfortably. Apart from that all Dundee’s crosses provided easy pickings for the keeper and his veteran central defenders, Gordon Greer and Kirk Broadfoot.
Neither side were able to build a convincing attack. Nobody could move the ball sharply enough through the midfield to worry either defence. The gentle pace of the game was more to Killie’s liking. The visitors could rightly argue that they were holding the Dee at bay comfortably and keeping the home fans quiet.
The Dark Blues moved their game up a gear in the second half but it was nowhere near enough to generate any real intensity. The players were clearly trying hard but could find no more penetration or invention. Kilmarnock retreated into their shell and while they looked in little danger of conceding a goal they offered nothing in attack.
Everything changed when the match entered the last 10 minutes of normal time. Dundee were growing increasingly desperate to score, and Kilmarnock at last decided to try and win the match themselves. Jon Auternetxe broke forward and delayed his pass until he could send substitute A-Jay Leitch-Smith clear, but MacDonald was out quickly to block. Only a minute later Elliot Parish did even better whenm Kilmarnock got their first shot on target. With the game wide open and both teams vulnerable to quick breaks through the middle Lee Erwin ran clear only for Parish to smother his shot.
After 83 minutes Dundee were reduced to 10 men when Darren O’Dea was late with a challenge on Rory McKenzie, who was heading towards the corner flag rather than the goal. O’Dea had been booked eight minutes earlier and it was no surprise when Willie Collum produced the yellow card again and then the dreaded red. Josh Meekings came off the bench to reinforce the defence, with Roarie Deacon making way.
Although Killie pushed forward chasing a winner it was the Dee who came closest to scoring from open play. Scott Allan had come on to replace Faissal El Bakhtaoui and he took Glen Kamara’s pass wide on the right to flash a tempting low ball across the face of the goal. It would have been a gift for any striker, but nobody had anticipated the cross. In the fourth minutes of injury time Kilmarnock almost snatched the winner from a corner. Eamonn Brophy had a free header and smashed his header against the crossbar from eight yards.
The Dark Blues have played much more attractive football in spells during the five game losing run. Today everything was more laboured and the 94 minutes produced only two opportunities, which were no more than half chances. The defence dealt comfortably with all that Kilmarnock attempted until they came under pressure at the end. A first clean sheet in the league this season and an end to the losing run are certainly welcome, but they are more a source of relief than pleasure. Frankly, today’s match was mostly boring and always scrappy. Some games stay in the memory for a lifetime. This one will be forgotten by Christmas.
Dundee FC 4-2-3-1
Kerr, Hendry, O’Dea (c), Aurtenetxe
Deacon (Meekings 84), McGowan (Leitch-Smith 66), El Bakhtaoui (Allan 76)
Unused subs: Ferrie (gk), Holt, Moussa, Wolters.
Booked: O’Dea (twice, for fouls on Brophy and McKenzie).
Sent off: O’Dea (two yellows).
Kilmarnock FC 4-4-2
O’Donnell, Greer, Broadfoot, Findlay
McKenzie, Power, Taylor, Burke (Erwin 63)
Jones, Kris Boyd (c) (Brophy 63)
Unused subs: Bell (gk), Thomas, Scott Boyd, Frizzell, Hawkshaw.
Booked: Jones (foul on Kamara), Burke (foul on Kerr), Taylor (foul on El Balhtaoui).
Attendance: 5,873 (675 away fans).
Referee: Willie Collum. Assistants: David McGeachie, Frank Connor. Fourth official: Craig Charleston.
Report: James Christie.