Dundee went down to a 2-0 defeat against Ayr at Somerset Park this afternoon. The Dark Blues’ defensive weakness let them down again, and early goals by Cammy Smith and Michael Moffat settled the match. Dundee had ample possession, and some good chances, but poor finishing and fine saves by Ayr’s goalkeeper Viljami Sinisalo allowed the home side to claim a deserved victory.
The Dark Blues made four changes from the team that lost against Hibs on Sunday. Adam Legzdins came in for his debut, while Lee Ashroft, Max Anderson and Osman Sow returned to the starting eleven. Jack Hamilton, Finlay Robertson and Declan McDaid moved onto the bench and Danny Mullen was unavailable. Ayr brought in Paddy Reading, Andy Murdoch and Cammy Smith, replacing Michael Hewitt, Dario Zanatta and Bruce Anderson after their draw against Stranraer in the Betfred Cup.
Dundee have been plagued by defensive problems this season, and it took Ayr only two minutes to prise open a vulnerable Dark Blues defence. Luke McCowan dribbled his way into the penalty area, drawing defenders to him and creating space for Cammy SMITH to take a touch and pick his spot to score from 12 yards.
Dundee had plenty of possession, but struggled to get Osman Sow into the game. Most of the work put in by Paul McGowan and Christie Elliott was well outside Ayr’s penalty area and there was little effective link up play in attack. Nevertheless, the Dee came close to equalising shortly after the opening goal. The home defenders were all at sea from two crosses by Charlie Adam before Jordan McGhee headed over from a corner.
If the first goal was poor from the Dee’s point of view the defending for the second goal, after quarter of an hour, was no better. Joe Chalmers’ low cross from the left was picked up by Michael MOFFAT six yards out from the near post. He turned neatly to score from a narrow angle without any challenge by the watching defenders.
Dundee’s attacks repeatedly sputtered out before achieving anything, and the home side looked more dangerous with less of the ball. The Dundee defence often looked uncomfortable when Ayr broke quickly out of defence.
McCowan caused problems twice with persistent runs through the middle. He screwed his shot wide the first time, and in his next attack he was denied by Jordan McGhee’s block that allowed Adam Legzdins to save easily.
The Dark Blues started to attack more convincingly in the last 15 minutes of the half, and should have pulled a goal back. Viljami Sinisalo made an instinctive save from Christie Elliot’s close range header. Max Anderson and Paul McGowan had shots blocked in rapid succession when it looked as if they would score. Ayr managed to survive frantic pressure with some desperate defending as Dundee’s corner count mounted. From one of these Elliott was agonisingly close to touching the ball over the line, but slipped at the vital moment.
Dundee started the second half on top and dominating possession. Ayr were forced back and struggled to get out of their own half, losing the ball whenever they tried.
Elliott should have scored after fine work on the left by Jordan Marshall, but headed straight at the keeper from only a couple of yards. Paul McGowan and Shaun Byrne combined beautifully to set up an attack, but Byrne dragged a weak shot wide from 18 yards.
Ten minutes after half time Dundee brought on Alex Jakubiak, for his debut, and Declan McDaid for Osman Sow and Cammy Kerr.
Sinisalo pulled off a fine save from Charlie Adam’s 30 yard shot, but surpassed that a few minutes later. Jakubiak set up a great chance, backheeling a pass to Byrne in space 12 yards out, but the Ayr keeper kept his clean sheet intact with a superb save.
There were still 25 minutes left, but Dundee’s challenge gradually fizzled out and Ayr looked increasingly comfortable as the clock ran down. The Dark Blues may have been hogging possession but they created no real danger to the home goal after that vital save from Sinisalo.
Ayr found it hard to threaten the Dundee goal in the second half, but sitting on a two goal lead that was hardly a problem. Significantly, they had only two serious attacks after the interval, but either could have led to a goal. Murdoch threw himself at a cross but failed to connect cleanly with his header, sending his effort bobbling wide. McCowan turned a Smith cross past Legzdins, but was given offside, which must have been a marginal decision.
There were flashes of promising play over the 90 minutes and some sustained pressure but Dundee failed to take good chances. Ayr had far fewer shots and chances but the Dark Blues’ fragile back line allowed them two goals from what should hardly even have been half chances. The game was settled by those goals in the first quarter of an hour. Gifting Ayr a two goal start allowed the home side to take, and keep, the initiative.
Ayr rode their luck at times late in the first half and for the first 20 minutes of the second. But their early goal burst, clever first half attacking on the break, and calm game management in the last 25 minutes meant that they were well worth the three points against a Dee team that will have to do better than this.
Ayr United 4-4-1-1
Houston, Baird, Roscoe, Reading
McCowan (McKenzie 76), Murdoch, Smith (Cameron 86), Chalmers
Moffat (Zanatta 89)
Unused subs: Hare-Reid (gk), Kerr, Hewitt, Anderson.
Goals: Smith (2), Moffat (15).
Booked: Sinisalo (timewasting).
Dundee FC 4-3-3
Kerr (McDaid 55), McGhee (c) (Fontaine 70), Ashcroft, Marshall
Anderson, Byrne, Adam
Elliott, Sow (Jakubiak 55), McGowan
Unused subs: Jack Hamilton (gk), Robertson, Wilkie, Nicholas Hamilton.
Booked: Byrne (foul on McCowan). Marshall (foul on McKenzie).
Referee: Graham Beaton. Assistants: Graeme Leslie, Colin Drummond.
Report: James Christie.