Dundee passed up the chance to climb clear of the foot of the table as they lost 4-1 to Ross County at Dens Park. The Dark Blues were never better than poor and made life disappointingly easy for the Staggies. Davis Keillor-Dunn opened the scoring shortly after half time. Kerr Waddell equalised, but instead of building on that Dundee crumbled, allowing County to score twice through Alex Schalk and add a fourth at the end from Tim Chow.
After the traffic in and out of Dens had settled down with the closure of the transfer window the Dark Blues made four changes to the team that beat Inverness on Tuesday. Darren O’Dea, Paul McGowan, Marcus Haber and new loan signing Simon Murray all came into the team, replacing the departed Jack Hendry and Scott Allan, while Faissal El Bakhtaoui was on the bench and Sofien Moussa injured. The other new signing Genseric Kusunga was a substitute. County made five changes; of the six midfielders and attackers who started against Aberdeen in midweek only Davis Keillor-Dunn kept his place. Mattias Kait, Christopher Routis, Jim O’Brien, Alex Schalk and David N’Gog replaced Chris Eagles, Tim Chow, Ross Draper, Craig Curran and Inih Effiong.
The opening exchanges were mainly in Dundee’s half as the Staggies were much the livelier side. In the second minute Elliott Parish had to touch Davis Keillor-Dunn’s shot over the bar. Shortly afterwards David N’Gog sclaffed a decent chance hopelessly high after Alex Schalk had manhandled Kevin Holt off the ball.
Dundee’s start to the game might charitably be described as sluggish, but they slowly perked up without ever being consistently fluent or composed. Simon Murray put in a smart turn and low shot from the edge of the penalty area that flew wide. It was a promising effort, but the newcomer had a tough afternoon having to work with inadequate service.
The slight improvement midway through the first half might not have been impressive, but it was as good as it got. The Staggies went close one more time before the break when Mattias Kait hit a worrying low cross through the goalmouth with no-one able to reach it.
From then until half time Dundee gave the ball away repeatedly while County were too cautious to take advantage. The Dark Blues couldn’t make their formation work. Marcus Haber and Simon Murray saw little of the ball as the midfielders behind them were outnumbered and sadly off form. The Dee may have been poor in the first half, but no-one could have predicted how badly they would fall away in a dreadful second half.
County quickly served notice that they were confident they could win the game and took the lead within three minutes of the restart. David N’Gog’s quick turn and shot brought a good save by Elliott Parish. From the resulting corner Davis KEILLOR-DUNN swapped passes with Jason Naismith and curled an inch perfect shot around Parish into the top corner.
Marcus Haber was replaced by Lewis Spence as Dundee tried to shore up the midfield. Initially it seemed that it might work as Dundee started to match County in the crucial midfield battle. The equaliser soon followed, after 56 minutes, again from a short corner. Paul McGowan’s cross to the far post was headed home by Kerr WADDELL.
That should have given Dundee the impetus against a team that has been on a terrible run of form. Most people would have predicted that any collapse would be from the Staggies. It hardly panned out that way as County responded impressively to the setback of Dundee’s equaliser. It took five minutes for them to regain the lead, and it followed a mix up between Spence and Waddell. Alex SCHALK didn’t bother to say thank you before running on to shoot past Parish, who got a hand to the ball only for it to spin inside the post.
The soft goal killed any challenge there might have been from the Dark Blues. It was as if they entered a state of shock; what had been a poor performance became abject. Only two minutes later Keillor-Dunn was granted an astonishing amount of space and time in the penalty area to tee up SCHALK to sweep in the third goal.
The remaining half hour was painful viewing for the Dees in the stands. When the Dee had the ball the passing was aimless and inaccurate. County hardly had to battle to win possession because they could depend on Dundee quickly gifting the ball back to them. At no time in that half hour was there a glimmer of hope that the Dee might dig themselves out of the hole.
Roarie Deacon replaced Glen Kamara then Faissal El Bakhtaoui came on for Kevin Holt shortly before the end. Both Darren O’Dea and Kerr Waddell spent much of the closing stages in attack. It was all to no avail. The Dark Blues simply could not click into gear with every move stuttering and stalling. As the match drifted into injury time County’s substitute Tim CHOW helped himself to the fourth goal, shooting low inside Parish’s left hand post after Dundee had lost the ball cheaply for the umpteenth time.
Dundee have had an up and down season but this was the worst performance yet. After two good wins on the road this display let the fans down badly. The loss of two players in the transfer window was hardly a valid excuse. The players on the park today are capable of far better than this and they were a long way short of their usual standard, or even an acceptable standard. Bad though the scoreline was, both sides got what they deserved.
Dundee FC 4-3-3
Kerr, Waddell, O’Dea (c), Holt (El Bakhtaoui 89)
O’Hara, Kamara (Deacon 77), McGowan
Leitch-Smith, Haber (Spence 53), Murray
Unused subs: Malherbe (gk), Kusunga, Aurtenetxe, Lambert.
Ross County 4-3-2-1
Naismith, Fontaine, Souttar, Fraser (c)
Kait, Routis, O’Brien (Chow 70)
Schalk (McKay 81), Keillor-Dunn
N’Gog (Curran 78)
Unused subs: McCarey (gk), Gardyne, Dow, Melbourne.
Goals: Keillor-Dunn (48), Schalk (61, 64), Chow (90).
Booked: Souttar (foul on Deacon).
Attendance: 4,971 (125 away fans).
Referee: John Beaton. Assistants: Douglas Ross, Graeme Leslie. 4th official Greg Aitken.
Report: James Christie.