Dundee were knocked out of the Viaplay Cup despite a 1-0 win over Inverness Caley Thistle at the Kilmac Stadium this afternoon. Zach Robinson scored the only goal after an hour. The Dee put Inverness under fierce pressure but couldn’t find the second goal that would have take them through to the last 16. The single goal margin of victory meant the Dark Blues were pipped by Raith Rovers who had the same goal difference but scored one more goal.
The Dark Blues only change from Wednesday night’s win over Dumbarton was Jon McCracken replacing Adam Legzdins in goal. New loan signing Amadou Bakayoko was on the bench, along with Luke McCowan who was available after suspension.
There were plenty of reasons to be optimistic during a bright opening 10 minutes from the Dee. Dundee were passing and moving quickly, linking cleverly and threatening to open the scoring.
Diego Pineda struck the top of the crossbar at the end of a pinball session in the Caley Thistle six yard box. Pineda then saw a goalbound shot strike a defender after a good run down the left by Scott Tiffoney.
After a passive opening Inverness started to come forward and tried to find gaps on the Dundee right between wing back Josh Mulligan and centre back Lee Ashcroft.
A long punt down the park by keeper Mark Ridgers found Nathan Shaw who had time to send a a cross beyond the far post. Billy McKay connected well with his volley and it took a reflex save by Jon McCracken to turn the ball over the bar.
In their next attack Shaw found space wide on the Dee right and cut inside to shoot across goal and wide.
For the rest of the first half Dundee couldn’t recreate the fast and dangerous attacking of the first 10 minutes. The Dark Blues lost their momentum and couldn’t maintain the same high tempo. The play was sluggish and too often simply careless with passes going astray. Moves broke down repeatedly before reaching the final third.
Caley Thistle offered some hope with shaky defending at set pieces. Three times they let long throws and corners land in the goalmouth, but the Dark Blues couldn’t take advantage of the slackness.
It was no surprise that Tony Docherty made changes at half time. Scott Tiffoney and Diego Pineda was substituted by Lyall Cameron and Amadou Bakayoko. The newcomers immediately injected more life and purpose into the Dee attacks.
The change almost brought a quick goal. Inverness couldn’t deal with a long clearance by McCracken. The ball came to Bakayoko 18 yards out and only a great save by Ridgers prevented him claiming a debut goal with a fierce rising shot. Again Caley Thistle defended the resulting corner poorly, but the Dee could not take advantage.
Bakayoko’s strength, his ability to hold the ball and his linking with team mates impressed the crowd who like the look of the new striker.
Dundee kept pushing forward and as a result they were leaving space for Inverness to break into. The visitors offered a reminder that they were still a threat when Mckay’s pass gave Austin Samuels a half chance, which he dragged across goal and wide.
After 57 minutes Luke McCowan replaced Josh Mulligan. Within three minutes the change brought a reward when all three subs were involved in the move that led to the winning goal.
Boateng combined with Bakayoko on the left. Cameron fed the first cross back to Boateng who crossed for McCowan. His shot was blocked by Duffy but Zach ROBINSON was on hand to head for goal. Ridgers clawed the ball out, but it was already a yard over the line.
Caley Thistle had a brief flurry of attacks in response before Dundee went on the hunt for the crucial second goal. Boateng flashed a fierce cross in front of the goal and it took a slight deflection that carried it beyond Cameron who could have nodded into the open goal.
Robinson turned Duffy on the edge of the penalty area before being pulled back. The Dee striker was clear of the Inverness defence, but remarkably referee John Beaton decided that the foul was worth only a yellow card.
Dundee were doing most of the attacking as they chased a second goal. However, Inverness had a real go at saving the game and came close a few times to setting up a good scoring chance. Like the Dark Blues when they did get into a promising position they couldn’t get the final pass or cross right. The nearest they came was when they took a quick free kick to give Samuels a chance, but McCracken saved the low drive with a foot.
The Dee were quickly back on the attack and McCowan hit a low shot across goal with neither Robinson nor Bakayoko able to get a touch to turn the ball in. Cameron set up Beck to cut in and shoot, but his effort with his right foot was weak.
As the game ticked over into injury time McCowan was pushed over as he chased a loose ball in the Inverness penalty area, but the referee was not impressed with the claims for a spot kick.
There were four minutes of injury time, but Dundee’s attacking was frantic and optimistic. The second half was a big improvement on a poor first 45 minutes, but the Dee lacked composure in the final third. There were too few dangerous crosses, too many wayward or mishit shots, and a repeated failure to set up good chances when the attackers played their way into great positions.
Being knocked out of the Viaplay Cup despite winning nine points is disappointing. There were certainly moments of bad luck over the four games, but in the end Dunded paid the price for failing to turn dominance into chances, and chances into goals. Just one more goal over those four games would have been enough to take the Dee through, but it wasn’t to be.
Dundee FC 3-4-1-2
Ashcroft, Shaughnessy, Portales
Mulligan (McCowan 57), McGhee (Robertson 76), Boateng, Beck
Tiffoney (Cameron at half time)
Pineda (Bakayoko at half time), Robinson
Unused substitutes: Legzdins (gk), Kerr, Rudden, Anderson, Wilkie.
Goal: Robinson (60).
Booked: Beck (dissent).
Inverness Caledonian Thistle 4-3-3
Davidson (Ram 71), Delaney, Duffy, Harper
Bray (Longridge 64), Hyde (Thompson 71), Carson
Samuels, Billy Mckay (c) (Lodovica 76), Shaw (Doran 76)
Unused subs: Cameron Mackay (gk), Strachan.
Booked: Hyde (foul on Tiffoney), Duffy (foul on Robinson), Delaney (dissent), Harper (foul on Cameron).
Booked: Hyde (foul on Tiffoney).
Referee: John Beaton. Assistants: Daniel McFarlane, Craig Ferguson. Fourth Official: Peter Stuart.
Report: James Christie.