Dundee’s good run came to an end with a 2-0 derby defeat against Dundee United at the Kilmac Stadium at Dens Park. Following a poor first half United emerged after the interval as the more composed and dangerous side. A Nicky Clark penalty and an opportunist goal by Lawrence Shankland gave the visitors victory.
Dundee made only one change. Jordan Marshall hadn’t recovered from last week’s injury, so Sean Mackie kept his place after replacing him against Morton. United were unchanged from the team that won in Inverness on Saturday.
The Dark Blues had a promising first few minutes, the highlight of which was a fast run and cross from the left by Declan McDaid. After that United had the edge for a spell without looking threatening in a tense and scrappy match.
Sean Mackie clumsily conceded a free kick 20 yards from goal but Nicky Clark shot against the wall. McDaid had the Dee’s first shot midway through the first half, but he pulled his effort wide after the United defence had failed to clear a corner.
United’s most dangerous moment of the half came when Lawrence Shankland bustled his way into the penalty area. Graham Dorrans saved the Dee with a last gasp challenge that took the sting out of the shot allowing Conor Hazard to save. The Dark Blues responded with their best move of the game when Graham Dorrans sent Mackie down the left with a lovely pass. The full back’s cross was inviting, but Paul McGowan, throwing himself at the ball, headed well wide.
With half an hour gone that was pretty much the end of the football as the fouls mounted and the referee started to flash his yellow card. Neither side was able to play football through the midfield. The Dee couldn’t get Dorrans and Byrne on the ball in midfield and too much of the play was rushed. The scrappy midfield battle suited United better as they were happy to bypass the centre and try to get their dangerous wide players onto the ball.
There was vast scope for improvement by both sides in the second half, but only United succeeded in putting their game together. The Dark Blues caused themselves problems all over the park by giving the ball away cheaply. Attacks kept grinding to a halt and the midfield put the defence under pressure as the Dark Blues’ errors helped United to take control.
United were much sharper and seized on the opportunities Dee mistakes gave them to get men into dangerous positions. It took another tremendous late tackle by Dorrans to stop Shankland.
The vital opening goal came after 56 minutes from the penalty spot. Liam Smith was caught by Declan McDaid’s challenge after crossing and Nicky CLARK duly converted from the spot.
James McPake sent on Danny Johnson in the place of Paul McGowan, but to no avail. Within a minute of that change the Dark Blues were two down and United’s goal summed up the match. Dundee lost the ball to Lawrence SHANKLAND as they tried to build an attack 40 yards from their own goal. United’s top scorer ran through to score the second and put the game beyond Dundee’s reach.
The Dark Blues had a few shots and some half promising openings, but there was barely a hint of a fightback. United were never in trouble in the final half hour and could have added to their lead. It took a magnificent reflex save by Hazard to keep out Paul McMullan’s shot, and substitute Sam Stanton curled a shot against the outside of the post after the Dee defence failed to clear after making a mess of dealing with a United attack.
Dundee’s central midfield has been highly impressive in recent weeks and have dominated the game while playing attractive football. Tonight the Dee midfield offered very little and were often bypassed as the ball was launched optimistically up the field. United, in contrast, were faster and more direct playing through the midfield in the second half, leaving the Dee on the back foot. No area of the team can feel happy with their performance tonight and the Dark Blues got what they deserved from the derby.
Dundee FC 4-2-3-1
Kerr, McGhee, Forster, Mackie
McDaid, McGowan (c) (Johnson 63), Nelson (McPake 65)
Unused subs: Ferrie (gk), Ness, Meekings, Robertson, Moore.
Booked: Nelson (foul on Liam Smith), Kerr (foul on Appéré), Hemmings (confronting Appéré).
Dundee United 4-2-3-1
Liam Smith, Watson, Reynolds (c), Robson
McMullan (Cammy Smith 86), Clark (Stanton 74), Appéré
Shankland (Connolly 90+3)
Unused subs: Mehmet (gk), Sporle, Chalmers, King.
Goals: Clark (56 pen), Shankland (64).
Booked: Butcher (foul on Byrne), Appéré (retaliation).
Referee: Steven McLean. Assistants: Frank Connor, John McCrossan. Fourth official: Colin Steven.
Report: James Christie.