There was wind, rain, sunshine and flurries of snow at the Kilmac Stadium at Dens Park this afternoon but ultimately no points for The Dee as Heart of Midlothian returned to the capital with all three after a disappointing game.
The Dark Blues made two changes from their last outing at Ibrox with Craig Curran and Kenny Miller coming in for Jesse Curran and Paul McGowan and the hosts made the livelier start with Andy Dales, Scott Wright and Nathan Ralph all peppering Zdenek Zlamal’s goal with shots.
Despite this good start it was the Jam Tarts who opened the scoring on 15 minutes when Sean CLARE took advantage of some sloppy Dundee defending to poke home under Seny Dieng. It was Arnaud Djoum’s cross from the Hearts left which caused havoc in the Dundee box and when Ralph couldn’t clear and O’Dea couldn’t connect, Clare nipped in to score his third goal of the season from six yards.
Dundee tried to recover quickly when Kenny Miller forced Zlamal to make his first reason save of the game but as Hearts took control towards the end of the first half, Ben Garuccio went closest when he curled a free kick just past Dieng’s right hand post.
The first chance of the second half came just four minutes in when James Horsfield headed over the bar from eight yards and in Dundee’s next attack O’Dea headed a Wright corner back across the six yard box but John Souttar was able to head clear and keep Dundee at bay.
Hearts’ Uche Ikpeazu was causing the Dark Blue defence all sorts of problems with his physicality and he brought out a save from Dieng when he fired low towards goal from 12 yards out. Generally the Dundee back four coped with him well but as the second half wore on, there was frustration in the home support that too many of the referee’s decisions were going the Englishman’ way.
By 73 minutes Jim McIntyre had used all his subs in an effort to chance the game and as the clock ran down The Dee exerted some pressure on the Hearts goal. The best chance fell to Kenny Miller when he headed towards goal from the corner of the six yard but Zlamal made a sensational save. The ball then fell to John O’Sullivan on the edge of the box and he volleyed towards the top corner but Zlamal was able to palm the ball away.
O’Sullivan was involved again in the final minute as he went down inside the Jambos box but as the home fans shouted for a penalty, the referee waved play on and with it went Dundee’s last chance to salvage something from the game. Hearts were content to see out the game and Zlamal was booked in the final seconds for time wasting.
The manager told the press afterwards that “it definitely felt like points dropped” but with Hamilton losing at Motherwell there was no ground lost on the team immediately above. The Dark Blues scrapped and fought for everything and there was no faulting the players efforts but their hard work and endeavours are going to have to be turned into points and soon.
Dundee FC: Dieng, Ralph, Woods (c), O’Dea, Wright (Jesse Curran73’), Ryan McGowan, Robson, Dales (O’Sullivan 64’), Miller, Craig Curran (Paul McGowan 65’), Horsfield
Unused Subs: Parish, Kerr, Kusunga, Hadenius
Booked: Woods, Ryan McGowan, Jesse Curran
Heart of Midlothian: Zlamal, Souttar, haring, Berra (c), Clare (Bozniac 86’), Djoum, Garuccio, Ikpeazu, Godhinho, Vanecek (Wighton 67’), Morrison (Dikmona 83’)
Unused Subs: Doyle, Lee, Mulraney, Hickey
Goal: Clare (15’)
Booked: Djoum, Garuccio, Zlamal
Referee: Nick Walsh
Assistant Referees: Alastair Mather and Gary Hilland
Fourth Official: Scott Millar
Mascots: Bailey May McCulloch, Josh Allan and Max Cruickshanks
Match Sponsor: Primero Contracts Ltd