Dundee’s Scottish Cup 5th round tie against Motherwell ended in disappointment as the Dark Blues went down to a 2-0 defeat at Dens Park. Dundee created and missed a string of chances, but gave away two poor goals. Craig Tanner scored a first half opener, and when Kevin Holt put through his own goal early in the second half Motherwell saw out the game calmly to earn their place in the quarter final.
The Dark Blues switched to a formation with three at the back, Darren O’Dea, Kevin Holt and Genseric Kusunga, making his debut. Dundee also brought in Jon Aurtenetxe and Sofien Moussa, as Kerr Waddell, Marcus Haber and the cup tied Simon Murray dropped out. Motherwell’s only change was Craig Tanner coming in for Allan Campbell.
The game got off to a fast start with Motherwell having a goal disallowed and Dundee missing two good chances in the first seven minutes. Thomas Aldred hooked Cedric Kipre’s knockdown from a free kick into the net, but the assistant referee’s flag was up for offside against Kipre. Sofien Moussa then sent a six yard header from Jon Aurtenetxe’s cross narrowly past the post. The next chance was even more inviting, but Moussa blazed over the bar after Paul McGowan’s cross caused confusion in Well’s defence.
The game was flowing at speed from end to end in the opening 15 minutes, but it was Motherwell who found their composure first and started to impose themselves on the midfield. Cifti passed up a Well’s first good chance, glancing his header wide from close range.
The opening goal arrived shortly before the half hour mark and came from a spot of opportunism by Craig TANNER. The ball broke to him a couple of yards outside the penalty area, and his instant snap shot flew under Elliott Parish’s dive.
The match entered a rough phase and it took a liberal approach to the rules by referee Bobby Madden to keep 22 players on the park. There was little football amongst the bad tempered fouls and posturing, but Dundee managed to miss another fine chance before the half time whistle. Aurtenetxe’s unorthodox low corner found Genseric Kusunga eight yards out but he scooped his shot well over the bar. Darren O’Dea went closer when his glancing header from a free kick flew a foot too high.
After the interval the players settled down to concentrate on football and Dundee offered some hope with a promising start. Trevor Carson pulled off a decent save from Mark O’Hara’s 25 yard shot, but excelled himself after 53 minutes with a game winning save fromm Sofien Moussa. Glen Kamara’s crossfield ball found the Tunisian striker, who beat the last defender and tried to curl his shot round Carson. Well’s keeper saved superbly, with a goal looking certain, and was relieved to see the loose ball break to a teammate, rather than Aurtenetxe who would have had an open goal.
The save was worth two goals because Motherwell were immediately handed a horribly soft second goal. A long pass down the middle found Kevin Holt under pressure from Curtis Main. The dropping ball struck Holt’s head as he was challenged by Main, and with Parish out of position the ball trickled from the 18 yard line over the goalline as Kusunga chased back unsuccessfully, arriving a split second too late.
There was no reprieve for the Dee after that blunder. Motherwell now had their best spell of the match without doing anything clever or creative. They simply choked the life out of the game professionally, keeping possession in the Dundee half and ensuring there was no fightback.
Dundee struggled to break through Well’s midfield and couldn’t get the better of the visitors’ defence when they did reach the penalty area. Although the Dee toiled in open play they did create further chances from set pieces. Moussa and Kusunga both headed over from corners, and near the end A-Jay Leitch-Smith slashed a half chance over the bar when the ball broke to him from a free kick. Motherwell’s only further chance was also from a set piece, when Aldred couldn’t keep his header down from a corner.
Neil McCann tried to get Dundee back into contention with his substitutions. Roarie Deacon and Jack Lambert replaced Kevin Holt and Paul McGowan, but neither change was able to loosen Motherwell’s grip on a quarter final place.
Sad to say Motherwell were the better side on the day and deserved their win. Dundee were always short of their best, but still created plenty of good chances. Disappointing finishing, and bad lapses in defence could lead to only one outcome and today Motherwell profited expertly from Dundee’s carelessness.
Dundee FC 3-5-2
Kusunga, O’Dea (c), Holt (Deacon 65)
Kerr, O’Hara, Kamara, McGowan (Lambert 79), Aurtenetxe
Unused subs: Malherbe (gk), El Bakhtaoui, Curran, Spence, Waddell.
Booked: McGowan (retaliation).
Kipre, Aldred, Dunne
Cadden, McHugh (c) (Turnbull 90), Rose, Tait
Tanner (Bigirimana 69)
Main, Ciftci (Petravicius 81)
Unused subs: Griffiths (gk), Frear, Grimshaw, Hendrie.
Goals: Tanner (29), Holt og (55).
Booked: McHugh (foul on O’Hara), Ciftci (foul on McGowan).
Attendance: 4,663 (1,447 away fans).
Referee: Bobby Madden. Assistants: Graeme Stewart, Alistair Mather. 4th official Gavin Duncan.
Report: James Christie.