The Dark Blues beat Arbroath 1-0 tonight in a competitive pre-season friendly at Gayfield. Zach Robinson scored the only goal, late in the first half. The goalkeepers deserve great credit for ensuring there were no further goals. Jon McCracken pulled off a wonderful save from Leighton McIntosh’s penalty, and Derek Gastom made a string of fine saves in the second half to deny the Dee.
Dundee again started with two strikers, Zak Rudden and Zach Robinson who took up the deeper position, almost in a number 10 role, linking with the midfield and looking to release the wide players.
The Lichties had the better of the opening few minutes and launched a couple of threatening attacks but Dundee quickly found their groove and began to take control.
A messy scramble in Arbroath’s penalty area ended with Fin Robertson’s shot being deflected over the bar for a corner that produced another stramash before the Lichties cleared.
Scott Tiffoney sent a low 20 yarder fizzing narrowly past the post. The Dark Blues were on top with some nice combination play in the final third but without giving Derek Gaston in the home goals any real problems.
After their bright start Arbroath struggled for a long spell to create anything in the Dundee half. They patiently worked their way into the game, however, and had their best spell before the Dee took the lead, but still without calling Jon McCracken into action.
Dundee took the lead after 37 minutes when the Arbroath defence failed to deal with a high ball. Zak Rudden took possession on the edge of the penalty area. Instead of trying to shoot through a crowd of defenders he knocked a pass over the top for Zach ROBINSON to run in from the right and lift his scoring shot over the advancing Gaston.
Two minutes later Gaston was back in action, saving a fierce shot from Rudden after a fast break down the right by Luke McCowan.
Late in the first half Arbroath passed up a golden chance to equalise. Mark Stowe ran into the penalty area and shaped to attack Jack Wilkie on the inside. He changed tack to go outside, and the young full back brought him down for a clear penalty.
There was nothing wrong with Deefiant hero Leighton McIntosh’s firmly struck spot kick but Jon McCracken pulled off a fantastic save at full stretch to push the ball round the post.
That was the end of McCracken’s night. He may have had little to do, but his only save was certainly memorable. Adam Legzdins replaced him for the second half. Arbroath made four changes, and they were never as dangerous again. They might have lacked a cutting edge in the first half, but they had often attacked fluently. In the second half they struggled to play their way through the midfield and created little.
Dundee went on to dominate the second half and they should really have added further goals. Home goalie Derek Gaston was the problem, however. The Dark Blues just couldn’t find a way past him.
Robertson sent Robinson racing clear through the middle, but Gaston blocked. Rudden then burst down the left and crossed for Luke McCowan who turned the ball back for Robinson in space, but Gaston saved the shot superbly.
On 61 minutes Cammy Kerr came on for Robinson. He went to right back, with Josh Mulligan switching to centre midfield, Robertson moving to the left wing and Tiffoney taking up a central role.
Tiffoney combined beautifully with Rudden to run clear, but yet again Gaston saved the Lichties with a fine save when the second goal seemed a certainty.
Lyall Cameron replaced Max Anderson for the last 20 minutes and treated us to some sweet passing. Dundee’s neat passing in attack continually stretched Arbroath, but the Dee could not find a further goal.
Lee Ashcroft took a late knock and was replaced by Luke Graham for the last couple of minutes.
Local rivalry, and perhaps some familiarity from last season, made this a highly competitive friendly. It was a physical match, with plenty of brisk tackling, but it never strayed over the line from healthily robust to plain dirty.
There was much to enjoy in the way Dundee passed their way into promising positions tonight and the only disappointment was that they couldn’t finish off some good moves. Derek Gaston has to take most of the blame for that!
Steele, Little, O’Brien, Stewart
Gold (Baldé at half time), Allan (Norey at half time)
Stowe (Trialist at half time), McKenna, Dow (Jacobs 58)
McIntosh (Dunnwald-Turan at half time)
Unused subs: Adams (gk).
Dundee FC 4-4-2
McCracken (Legzdins at half time)
Mulligan (Byrne 75), Shaughnessy, Ashcroft (Graham 88), Wilkie
McCowan, Anderson (Cameron 69), Robertson, Tiffoney
Rudden, Robinson (Kerr 61)
Unused substitutes: Sharp, (gk), Lamb, Allan, Clark, Richardson.
Goal: Robinson (37).
Booked: Kerr (foul on the trialist).
Attendance: 2,160 (1,198 Dees).
Report: James Christie.