Dundee had to settle for a point from their trip to Ayrshire, drawing 1-1 with Kilmarnock in a game that had more spills than thrills. Faissal El Bakhtaoui gave the Dark Blues a perfect start, scoring after three minutes. Dundee couldn’t build on their lead and Killie captain Gordon Greer equalised midway through the second half.
Dundee made three changes following the Betfred Cup quarter final against Celtic. Kerr Waddell came in for the suspended Darren O’Dea, while Roarie Deacon and Scott Allan replaced Randy Wolters and Mark O’Hara. Kilmarnock’s only change was Dean Hawkshaw starting in Iain Wilson’s place.
The Dark Blues took only three minutes to get on the score sheet. Killie captain Gordon Greer got in a tangle under pressure from Faissal El Bakkhtaoui and the home defence didn’t have a chance to regain their composure until the ball was in the back of the net. After surviving the first scramble Killie were undone when Roarie Deacon skipped past Greg Taylor to the byline. His deep cross was teed up by Scott Allan for A-Jay Leith-Smith. Jamie MacDonald did well to keep the first shot out, but was helpless as EL BAKHTAOUI swept home the loose ball.
Dundee didn’t settle comfortably on their lead and had many nervous moments before the break. Kilmarnock twice came close to an equaliser in the opening 10 minutes. Lee Erwin’s 20 yard free kick was accurate, but lacked the power to get past Scott Bain. Erwin had an even better chance when a simple long ball took out Dundee’s central defenders leaving him clear, but Bain saved with his legs.
Neither defence looked entirely happy with life and another goal always seemed on the cards. However, both teams lacked the composure to take advantage in a game that was littered with mistakes. The match was summed up by 30 seconds of play in which Kilmarnock made a dreadful mess of a free kick outside the Dee’s penalty area. Dundee had the chance to break but El Bakhtaoui lost the ball, leaving both sets of fans howling with frustration.
Jordan Jones offered by far the greatest danger for Killie and an equaliser looked possible every time he ran at Dundee’s defence. It took a goal-saving block by Kevin Holt to stop Adam Frizzell scoring from Jones’ low cross. On the stroke of half time Kilmarnock centre back Stuart Findlay passed up a good chance when he glanced his header from a free kick straight at Bain from a few yards out.
The Dark Blues were slightly fortunate to be ahead at the break, but emerged after half time more composed at the back and Kilmarnock struggled to get through the midfield or open up the Dundee defence.
Neil McCann made two changes early in the second half; Mark O’Hara replaced Scott Allan and James Vincent came on for Glen Kamara. O’Hara was inches away from scoring within a minute of coming on, but his fierce shot from 20 yards beat MacDonald on its way over the crossbar.
Killie midfielder Calum Waters might have been lucky to stay on the pitch after a foul on Jack Hendry that might have been accidental but looked horrific. The Dee defender was charging into Kilmarnock’s half and after pushing the ball past Waters was sent somersaulting through the air by a late challenge. Hendry landed heavily and needed lengthy treatment before he could continue.
Dundee had settled into a promising spell of midfield dominance with play largely confined to the home half when Kilmarnock equalised against the run of play. Jordan attacked down the left and won their first corner of the half after 64 minutes. Kris Boyd had just arrived from the substitutes’ bench and he headed the corner back from the far post for Gordon GREER to hammer in the equaliser from six yards.
The Dark Blues responded well to the setback and looked the more dangerous side for the rest of the match. They should have found a winner in the remaining half hour, but poor final balls and decisions in the last third let Kilmarnock off the hook. Dundee worked their way into numerous promising positions but failed repeatedly to turn them into good chances.
El Bakhtaoui should have done better than win only a corner when he picked up a careless backpass from Taylor just outside the penalty area. O’Hara had a half chance from a Vincent cross when he stole in at the far post but couldn’t keep his header down.
Faissal El Bakhatoui came closest to a late goal with a 20 yard shot arrowing for the top corner, but a great save by Jamie MacDonald turned the ball against the crossbar and out for a corner.
After having the better of the second half Dundee could have lost a goal in added time at the end of three minutes injury time. A cross from the right found its way all the way through to Kris Boyd, eight yards out from the far post. The charitable explanation is that a poor bounce made him miscue his shot that sent the ball trundling yards wide. The Kilmarnock pitch certainly produced a surprising number of bad bobbles and bounces for an artificial surface. That may have marred the game, but most of the errors were down to the players.
Both managers will feel they lost two points today, and can certainly point to moments when their players could have done better. Dundee handled Kilmarnock well in the second half, and it was disappointing to lose a goal from a corner against a team that were struggling to hurt the Dee in open play. However, over the whole game Kilmarnock did enough to deserve their point as did the Dark Blues. Any complaints about the final outcome can be countered by pointing out the number of misplaced passes and poor decisions by both teams that ensured the game finished level. Neither side did enough things well to justify any claim they deserved all three points.
O’Donnell, Greer, Findlay, Taylor
McKenzie, Frizzell (Boyd 62), Jones
Unused subs: Bell (gk), Power, Thomas, Broadfoot, Burke, Samizadeh.
Goal: Greer (64).
Booked: Waters (foul on Hendry).
Dundee FC 4-2-3-1
Kerr (c), Hendry, Waddell, Holt
Spence, Kamara (Vincent 58)
Deacon (Wolters 80), Allan (O’Hara 53), El Bakhtaoui
Unused subs: Parish (gk), Williams, Aurtenetxe, Henvey.
Goal: El Bakhtaoui (3).
Booked: Kerr (foul on Jones), Kamara (foul on Frizzell).
Attendance: 3,452 (391 Dees).
Referee: Bobby Madden. Assistants: Gordon Crawford, David Doig. Fourth official: Mike Roncone.
Report: James Christie.