Dundee went down 2-0 at Rugby Park this afternoon, losing out to Kilmarnock who took the points with goals in each half from Rory McKenzie and Souleymayne Coulibaly. The Dark Blues had chances but never managed to get their game going and were second best for most of the match.
Dundee’s only change was Julen Etxebeguren replacing Kevin Gomis, who has been in France where his wife has been in labour. Killie made two changes. Souleymane Coulibaly and Nathan Tyson came in for Adam Frizzell and Florent Bojaj.
The Dark Blues started promisingly, spending the first few minutes in Kilmarnock’s half without threatening the home goal. Gradually, however, the home side began to look the more effective team in a match that had far more mistakes than fluent play.
Dundee’s midfield was struggling to impose themselves on the game and build moves that would get the strikers into the match. When the opening goal arrived after 21 minutes it was no surprise that it was for the home side and had a scrappy build up. Jordan Jones cut in from the left and his shot was blocked with the ball breaking kindly for Rory McKENZIE who took full advantage to score off the inside of the post from 16 yards.
Killie stepped up their game after the goal and looked well worth their lead, playing their best football of the half. James Vincent was withdrawn after just 24 minutes and Danny Williams came on as a straight replacement in central midfield.
In the later stages of the first half the Dee’s strikers at last started to get into the game, receiving better service from the midfield. Marcus Haber twice caused problems in the Killie penalty area, heading the ball down for colleagues. The first was a header into the goalmouth and Tom Hateley couldn’t quite reach it to tap the ball in. Next he set up Danny Williams to shoot from 12 yards but Jamie MacDonald saved well.
Kilmarnock went close twice in the last few minutes before the break Nathan Tyson might have done better than head over the bar when a curling cross from Greg Taylor found him free eight yards out. Rory McKenzie again found the ball breaking to him just inside the penalty area, but his shot was deflected over the bar. In between those two scares Dundee put together a promising attack that ended with Kevin Holt firing a low cross through the goalmouth with no Dees able to reach reach it.
The Dark Blues had another escape early in the second half when they failed to clear following a free kick. Luke Hendrie found Tyson who took a touch 15 yards out before firing off the top of the crossbar. Dundee immediately launched one of their best attacks of the game, only for Haber to head narrowly wide from Holt’s cross.
The longer the game went on the more open it became as Dundee chased an equaliser. The match had always been scrappy, but Killie were the more comfortable with that. The home side showed more urgency in pressing and then reacting to the frequent breakdowns in play. Unable to play their way comfortably through the midfield Dundee responded by trying to find Marcus Haber with long balls or spring Craig Wighton clear. Neither tactic paid off.
Kilmarnock had numerous corners throughout the match, which Dundee dealt with comfortably for the most part. But midway through the second half Will Boyle found himself free and his header only just missed the post. The second goal was delayed by only a minute and when Steven Smith’s low cross wrong footed the Dundee defence Souleymane COULIBALY shot into the roof of the net from eight yards.
Faissal El Bakhtaoui replaced Craig Wighton and Dundee tried their hardest to claw their way back into the match. However, their efforts relied more on graft, hope and long balls on a day when they were never able to settle on the ball and play their way through Killie’s defence.
Killie almost took advantage of Dundee’s desparate attacking and went close twice more. Tyson broke away on his own and Scott Bain had to save well from his fierce shot. Bain again saved well to deny McKenzie after Killie put together one of the neater moves of the match.
Rory Loy came on for the last few minutes, replacing Kosta Gadzhalov. He combined well with Haber in a few moves, but Kilmarnock were in little trouble until deep into injury time when Danny Williams should have scored. El Bakhtaoui did well on the right to make space and put over a great cross only for MacDonald to save Williams’ close ranger header with his feet.
Dundee were some way short of their best today and can’t complain about the result. The midfield and strikers in particular were off the pace for most of the game and Kilmarnock always looked much more comfortable handling a game that had far too many mistakes. They made fewer errors, wasted possession less and were usually first onto loose balls; they fully deserved their win.
Hendrie, Boyle, Boyd, Taylor
Coulibaly, McKenzie, Jones (Frizzell 89)
Unused subs: Mackay (gk), Bojaj, Cameron, McFadzean, Adams, Wilson
Goals: McKenzie (21), Coulbaly (69).
Booked: Hendrie (foul on Hateley), Coulibaly (foul on McGowan).
Dundee FC 3-5-2
Etxabeguren, Gadzhalov (Loy 82), O’Dea (c)
Kerr, Hateley, McGowan, Vincent (Williams 24), Holt
Haber, Wighton (El Bakhtaoui 71)
Unused subs: Mitchell (gk), Duffy, Ross, Curran.
Booked: Kerr (foul on Jones), Gadzhalov (foul on Coulibaly), McGowan (foul on Coulibaly).
Attendance: 3,615 (465 Dees)
Referee: Crawford Allan. Assistants: Brian Templeton, Ralph Gordon. Fourth official: Mat Northcroft.
Report: James Christie.