Dundee went down to a disappointing 3-1 defeat against Ayr United at the Kilmac Stadium tonight. Mark McKenzie put Ayr ahead in the first half and Cammy Smith made it two shortly after the restart. McKenzie scored his second late on and although Osman Sow pulled a goal back Ayr were able to hold out for a well deserved win.
Dundee made two changes to the team that beat Arbroath on Saturday. Sam Fisher retained his place after replacing the injured Malachi Fagan-Walcott, and Charlie Adam returned to the starting 11 at the expense of Declan McDaid.
The Dark Blues best spell of the first half came in the opening quarter of an hour. They were far from convincing, but they did manage to get a few dangerous balls into Ayr’s box.
Paul McMullan caused problems with a low cross after taking a fine long pass by Charlie Adam in his stride. Max Anderson played Danny Mullen into a good position but the shot was weak. Anderson then forced a good save from Viljami Sinisalo after a neat move by Paul McMullan and Jason Cummings.
Everything changed on 17 minutes when Dundee gifted Ayr a dreadful opening goal. Paul McGowan was caught in possession 40 yards from his own goal. That left Ayr with two attackers against a single defender, and Luke McCowan duly set up Mark McKENZIE to score from 15 yards. Adam Legzdins got a glove to the shot but couldn’t keep it out.
A game that had been mediocre deteriorated. Instead of being prodded into a furious response Dundee were disappointingly passive. The Dark Blues kept losing the ball in midfield, giving the defence avoidable problems. The Dee’s attacks ground to a halt with poor passing and too many long balls that were gratefully received by Ayr’s central defenders.
A second goal for Ayr looked more likely than an equaliser. The visitors didn’t have to work hard at building their attacks. Dundee’s carelessness made it too easy for them. The nearest that Ayr came, however, was from speculative shots from distance by Muirhead and McCowan that didn’t miss by much.
The balance of the Dundee team wasn’t working and at half time Charlie Adam moved to a deeper role with Paul McGowan playing behind Jason Cummings. There was a brief moment of hope when McGowan’s pass gave McMullan the chance to put in a promising cross. That hope was instantly crushed when Ayr went straight up the park to score a goal that was every bit as bad from a Dee perspective as the first.
Joe Chalmers was pinned in by the corner flag, but Christie Elliott allowed him to turn and run along the byline. His low cross was deflected into the path of Cammy SMITH, who shot past Legzdins.
Declan McDaid and Osman Sow came on for Paul McGowan and Danny Mullen, followed by Jonathan Afolabi replacing Jason Cummings. The result was constant Dundee attacking, but it was all ineffectual. Ayr’s midfield sat in as a barrier in front of a deep and composed defence. The Dark Blues managed to create occasional problems from set pieces, but Ayr’s defenders always had the last word.
After 84 minutes Ayr killed the game with the goal of the night. After Ayr had ventured forward into attack Dundee tried to counter attack but lost the ball. Chalmers found McKENZIE on the edge of the penalty area and he took a touch before smashing a rising shot into Legzdins top right hand corner.
Ayr then blundered themselves for once and handed the Dee a consolation goal. 30 yards from his own goal Chalmers sent a pass straight to Paul McMullan, who quickly sent Osman SOW in to poke his shot past the keeper.
There was a late flurry of pressure from Dundee, but Ayr had little trouble holding out for the win they unquestionably deserved.
The positive signs that have been apparent recently all vanished tonight, while the recurring problems were still painfully apparent. The Dark Blues may be in a play-off position, but a negative goal difference tells a sorry story. It is far too easy to score against the Dee, and tonight Dundee were careless and unimaginative in midfield and attack. This was as poor as Dundee have played at home in a long time.
Dundee FC 4-2-3-1
Elliott, Ashcroft, Fisher, Marshall
McGowan, (McDaid 53), Anderson
McMullan, Adam (c), Mullen (Sow 53)
Cummings (Afolabi 63)
Unused subs: Hamilton (gk), Kerr, Byrne, Cameron.
Booked: Adam (foul on Smith).
Ayr United 4-2-3-1
Houston, Baird (c), Ndaba, Reading
Muirhead, Miller (Moffat 78)
Smith (Murdoch 69), Chalmers, McCowan (Walsh 85)
Unused subs: Urminsky (gk), Roscoe, McGavin, Zanatta.
Goals: McKenzie (17, 84), Smith (49).
Booked: Sinisalo (timewasting), McKenzie (foul on Fisher), Ndaba (timewasting).
Referee: Alan Newlands. Assistants: Gordon Crawford, Colin McAlpine.
Report: James Christie.