Dundee lost out in the dying seconds at Ibrox this afternoon, going down 1-0 to Rangers through a Harry Forrester goal two minutes into injury time. The late goal was hard on a Dundee team that had fought tirelessly throughout to frustrate Rangers.
After the win against Motherwell the Dark Blues’ only change was the return of Scott Bain in goal. Rangers sent out the same side that drew at Ross County.
Rangers quickly settled into a passing game, controlling the midfield and building moves patiently. Joe Garner gave the Dee the first scare when he spun on Josh Windass’s pass and shaved the outside of the post with his shot. Garner had some rugged aerial battles with Darren O’Dea, and after winning one of them he sent a lob from 30 yards just over the bar.
Although they had far less of the play the Dundee strikers were causing problems for the Rangers’ defence. Marcus Haber had the beating of the central defenders in the air, while Craig Wighton’s pace and close control threatened to open up the home defence. However, Dundee couldn’t create any direct threat to Wes Foderingham’s goal from open play in the first half and the danger was all round Scott Bain’s goal.
Kenny Miller couldn’t quite reach Garner’s low cross at the far post. A similar low cross from the right seemed certain to bring a goal for Rangers, but Kevin Gomis’s superb challenge stopped Miller turning the ball in.
Dundee had a brief flurry midway through the half. Foderingham needed to stretch to turn Tom Hateley’s 35 yard free kick round the post. The corner found Haber unmarked beyond the far post, but his downward header was scrambled clear.
The play was soon flowing back toward the Dundee goal and Gomis put in another great challenge to stop Garner reaching Windass’s cutback. For all Rangers’ pressure and dangerous attacks Scott Bain had to make only one save in the first half, when he blocked at Windass’s feet at the end of a smart Rangers’ passing move.
As the first half wore on Dundee started to get to grips with Rangers in the middle of the park and the Dark Blues’ central midfield three stopped their hosts building moves so smoothly from the back.
The second half picked up where the first had left off. Rangers had ample possession but struggled to build moves that could open up Dundee. When they did get into promising positions they let themselves down too often with poor crosses and final balls.
Marcus Haber’s ability in the air and good first touch often provided a welcome outlet for Dundee when they broke out of defence. Craig Wighton also had some good runs that unsettled Rangers. After 65 minutes the skillful youngster was scythed down by Clint Hill, a foot outside the penalty area on the left. Tom Hateley’s curling free kick was tipped over the bar by Foderingham.
Andy Halliday might have seen worse than a yellow card after a dreadful foul to stop Wighton racing down the left. Kevin Gomis was first to reach the resulting free kick, but he got too much on his header when a glancing touch was required.
Dundee were having their best spell of the match and nearly scored when Haber drilled a low cross into the goalmouth only for Holt to save Rangers with a great challenge to prevent James Vincent forcing the ball in at the far post.
That burst of pressure was the last we saw of the Dee as an attacking force. For the remainder of the match they were forced back to defend in depth. Rangers continued to waste possession with poor crosses and some unnecessarily elaborate build up play around the penalty area. Dundee meanwhile were defending heroically, keeping their shape chasing everything and making life difficult for Rangers.
Rangers did go close when Jason Holt won the ball from Hateley and hit a low 18 yard shot that Bain did well to reach at full stretch. A cross from substitute Joe Dodoo then flashed low through the goalmouth with players from both sides lunging at the ball and missing.
Craig Wighton had an excellent game, but after 78 minutes he was replaced by Faissal El Bakhtaoui to provide some fresh legs in a tiring team. By that time Rangers had used all their substitutes as they strived to break Dundee down. The final substitution was Harry Forrester replacing Kenny Miller, and that proved to be the vital one.
The last 10 minutes were spent almost entirely in the Dundee half. However, the Dee defended superbly and looked like taking a deserved point until their concentration slipped two minutes into the four minutes of injury time. FORRESTER was allowed space in the penalty area, and from 12 yards he glanced Dodoo’s cross past Bain. There was no time for the Dee to respond and frustratingly a valuable point was lost.
The defeat might have sent Dundee back to the bottom of the table but this defeat should not leave the fans despondent. The Dark Blues were organised, hard-working and determined. There were huge gaps in the home stands by the time the goal arrived as the home fans had given up hope that their side might break Dundee down.
Today’s performance continued the improvement of recent weeks. The defence did very well in the 90 minutes of regulation time; the midfield and forwards left the pitch exhausted after all their hard running, chasing and tackling. If Dundee can maintain this performance they will not be at the bottom for long and it is important that the players focus on the positive side of today’s match and believe that they can maintain the standard they have set over the last three games.
Tavernier, Kiernan, Hill, Wallace (c)
Windass (McKay 64), Halliday, Holt
Miller (Forrester 76), Garner, O’Halloran (Dodoo 70)
Unused subs: Gilks (gk), Wilson, Crooks, Hodson.
Goal: Forrester (90+2).
Booked: Halliday (foul on Wighton).
Dundee FC 3-5-2
Gomis, Gadzhalov, O’Dea (c)
Kerr, Hateley, McGowan, Vincent, Holt
Haber (Williams 90), Wighton (El Bakhtaoui 78)
Unused subs: Mitchell (gk), Loy, Duffy, Etxabeguren, Ross.
Booked: Holt (foul on O’Halloran), O’Dea (foul on Forrester).
Referee: William Collum. Assistants: Frank Connor, Douglas Ross. Fourth official: Steven Reid.
Report: James Christie.