The Dee headed home over the Tay from Kirkcaldy with three points and a sense of relief after a keenly contested 2-1 win over Raith Rovers. The match looked likely to be settled by penalties until it exploded into life in the last 10 minutes. Debutant Sofien Moussa came off the bench to put Dundee ahead but when Lewis Vaughan equalised on the stroke of full time spot kicks looked inevitable. However, Jack Hendry, who was also making his competitive debut, headed the winner in front of the delighted travelling support deep into injury time.
Neil McCann gave five players their competitive debut for the Dee in addition to Hendry; Glen Kamara, Roarie Deacon, Scott Allan and Randy Wolters all started.
The Dark Blues edged a forgettable first half in which neither side could settle on the ball and make the sort of passes that could open up defences, or even keep play flowing. There were too many misdirected passes and high balls to attackers who rarely looked like winning them. Dundee dominated possession, but rarely looked liked turning that into serious danger to the home goal.
Aaron Lennox was the first keeper called into action, dashing from his goal to clear when Iain Davidson’s underhit backpass was being chased by Faissal El Bakhtaoui. A dangerous free kick from Scott Allan flew through the goalmouth and was turned behind by Davidson. That was the extent of the thrills in the first 15 minutes.
Scott Bain had to make the first two saves of the match, though neither were remotely taxing for a keeper of his quality. Liam Buchanan’s long range shot took a deflection that sent it on target but Bain took it easily, as he did with Lewis Vaughan’s effort from just inside the penalty area.
After a scrappy spell of dreadful passing from both teams Buchanan turned quickly and shot. Again Bain saved comfortably and immediately launched the Dee’s best attack of the half. The ball was quickly switched upfield to Randy Wolters who ran past Jason Thomson and lashed a fine angled shot against the crossbar.
Late in the fist half Rovers’ defence got into a tangle when Faissal El Bakhtaoui ran at them through the middle. Scott Allan picked up the loose ball and gave El Bakhatouoi space to shoot, but Lennox blocked and then saved again from the French striker’s follow up.
Dundee started the second half the stronger team, but still without a cutting edge. Roarie Deacon caused confusion in the Rovers defence with a run from the left. The ball broke across goal to Cammy Kerr, whose cross was half cleared as far as Deacon, who hooked his 15 yard shot over the bar.
After a spell of harmless pressure from the Dee a Rovers attack brought the best chance of the game so far. The ball broked to Vaughan, whose pass gave Buchanan a clear sight of goal, but the shot was sliced horribly wide.
Dundee’s midfield hadn’t been clicking, with Mark O’Hara and Glen Kamara often too far apart. After 57 minutes Paul McGowan came on for O’Hara and the change helped to tighten up the midfield. Before that happened Dundee had to survive a spell in which Rovers grew in strength and confidence. Kevin Holt made a superb tackle to stop Greig Spence, who was through on Bain and about to shoot. The home supporters were screaming for a penalty, but it was a legitimate tackle, an excellent piece of penalty box defending.
The introduction of McGowan now started to have an effect. Dundee were holding the ball and making more composed passes. At the end of the Dee’s best move of the match Holt’s cross was chested by El Bakhtaoui into the path of Deacon, whose shot flashed a foot over the bar.
After 69 minutes Sofien Moussa came on for Randy Wolters. The Tunisian was immediately in the action, picking up a deflected McGowan shot in the goalmouth, but he couldn’t screw the ball past Lennox from a difficult angle.
With 10 minutes to go Darren O’Dea was substituted after he was fouled by substitute Jonathan Court, an incident that led to both players being booked for confronting each other. 19 year old Kerr Waddell came on for his first team competitive debut.
Finally, with penalties looking increasingly likely, the Dark Blues broke the deadlock after 82 minutes. Scott Allan chipped a free kick into the goalmouth. Hendry and Thomson fought for the ball, which broke to Sofien MOUSSA with his back to goal and he turned Davidson to whip the ball into the net from six yards.
Dundee should have been able to see the game out comfortably, and did look increasingly confident in possession. However, as the clock was ticking onto 90 minutes Cammy Kerr slipped as he was about to clear. Euan Murray crossed and Lewis VAUGHAN scored with a crisp, low drive from 10 yards.
Rovers might have sneaked a winner in injury time when Ross Matthews failed to connect cleanly with a cross from Court allowing Bain to gather easily. And so that gave the Dee an opportunity to grab a late, late winner.
Roarie Deacon won a corner in front of the Dundee supporters. Scott Allan took it short, exchanging passes with Paul McGownan before crossing to the far post where Jack HENDRY rose high to head over Lennox and into the far corner, getting clobbered as he did so. The Dees celebrated in the stand, while Hendry lay prostrate on the ground. The young centre back recovered just in time to hear the final whistle.
This was very much a mixed bag of a performance. It is hard to integrate five new players into the team quickly. There were flashes of promise from all the new players, but too much of the game was far too scrappy, and it took Dundee a long time to settle down in midfield. However, Rovers under the management of Dark Blues legend Barry Smith are clearly a cut above the standard you might expect from a League 1 side, and any win at Starks Park must count as a good result.
Raith Rovers 4-4-2
Thomson, Benedictus, Davidson, Murray
Osei (Matthews 66), Callachan, Robertson, Vaughan
Spence (Court 78), Buchanan
Unused subs: Brian (gk), McKay, Berry, Thorsen, Valentine.
Goal: Vaughan 90.
Booked: Spence (simulation), Court (confronting O’Dea), Davidson (dissent).
Dundee FC 4-2-3-1
Kerr, Hendry, O’Dea (Waddell 80), Holt
Kamara, O’Hara (McGowan 56)
Deacon, Allan, Wolters (Moussa 69)
Unused subs: Ferrie (gk), Williams, Spence, Wighton.
Goals: Moussa (82), Hendry (90+2).
Booked: Deacon (foul on Buchanan), O’Dea (confronting Court), Moussa (goal celebration).
Attendance: 2,962 (1,612 Dees).
Referee: Stephen Finnie. Assistants: Graham Chambers, David McKniff.
Report: James Christie.