Dundee had to endure another frustrating draw away to one of their rivals for a play-off spot tonight, as they drew 1-1 in the Highlands against Inverness Caley Thistle. Despite a second half of almost total dominance the Dark Blues couldn’t finish off their hosts, who were reduced to nine men after Scott Allardice and Brad McKay were both red carded. With the Dee focused completely on scoring themselves they were caught out by a late sucker punch when Daniel Mackay broke away to score. However, Lee Ashcroft made amends immediately to score the equaliser that was the very least that Dundee deserved.
The Dark Blues’ starting line-up had two changes from the match at Dunfermline. Christie Elliott kept his place at right back after coming on for the injured Jordan Marshall. Jonathan Afolabi started in attack instead of Jason Cummings who was on the bench.
The diplomatic verdict would be that the game got off to a cagey start with both teams weighing up the opposition. It would be more accurate to call it an unitdy opening with neither side able to put fluent moves together, and conceding possession frequently and needlessly.
The Dee had the first shot, when Caley Thistle failed to deal with a long throw and Jordan McGhee hooked his shot wide. The scrappy play continued and it might have cost the Dee dearly when the defence lost track of a massive clearance by home goalie Ridgers that hurtled out of the dazzling low sun. Daniel Mackay chased after the ball and squeezed in a shot from a very tight angle that Adam Legzdins pushed out for a corner.
Caley Thistle had been trying all evening to spring a runner clear of the Dee back line. After being frustrated repeatedly by the offside flag they got it right to send Todorov down the left. His cut back came to Sutherland but Legzdins blocked the close range shot.
The Dee’s only other worthwhile effort in the first half was from another long throw that Caley Thistle couldn’t defend tidily. Danny Mullen’s shot was deflected over the crossbar.
In the first half the Dark Blues lacked creativity as they tried to move from midfield into attack. That changed with the half time substitution. Charlie Adam came on for Jonathan Afolabi. Dundee took charge in midfield and Adam started to turn the screw on the home defence with a series of penetrating passes.
Caley Thistle were forced backwards and Dundee’s determined attacking won a succession of corners. One produced a bout of head tennis in the goalmouth that ended with Ridgers relieved to grasp Mullen’s header.
After enduring a tough 10 minutes Inverness managed to get back up the field and almost scored with the best chance of the game so far. Allan’s perfect through pass sent Deas clear, but Legzdins was out quickly to save.
Dundee then resumed their determined offensive. A fierce low McMullan cross bounced off a defender and past the post. Declan McDaid turned the ball back into the penalty area after a corner was half cleared. Ridgers saved from Mullen, with the assistant referee’s flag going up then coming down, leaving some doubt about what would have happened if Dundee had scored.
The Dark Blues’ dominance was confirmed when Caley Thistle’s midfielder Scott Allardice was red carded for a late high lunge at Adam. Dundee immediately sent on Jason Cummings for Danny Mullen. The striker was quickly on target. He picked up a wild backpass, but Ridgers saved well.
After 75 minutes Shaun Byrne limped off and was replaced by Max Anderson. The young sub’s welcome to the fray took the form of a wild tackle by Caley Thistle’s central defender Brad McKay. And that was Caley Thistle down to nine men.
The Dark Blues had been pumping up the pressure and a goal seemed almost inevitable, but no-one could have predicted the way the opening goal arrived in an utterly bizarre few minutes. Charlie Adam flighted one of his trademark free kicks into the penalty area. Liam Fontaine glanced a header to the back post where Jason Cummings nodded home. The assistant referee didn’t seem to wave his flag, but the referee went over to consult him, and after a lengthy discussion the goal was disallowed for offside.
Dundee then lost concentration and gave away a dreadful goal to Inverness, completely against the run of play. A simple ball over the top allowed Daniel MACKAY to run clear and tuck the ball neatly past Legzdins.
Astonishingly Dundee had managed to fall behind from a position of total dominance with a two man advantage. It took the Dee only 90 seconds to put matters right. They set up camp once again in the final third and quickly won a corner, taken by Charlie Adam of course. Lee ASHCROFT rose high to send a looping header into the top corner. If only everything in life was as reliable as Lee Ashcroft!
The remaining few minutes were spent with Caley Thistle defending desperately, and Dundee trying everything to break them down. Frustratingly they couldn’t do it. Cummings and McDaid both had shots blocked as the ball flew hither and thither around the home penalty area.
Inverness were able to hold on to take a point that neither club would have been happy with before the start. Both teams badly wanted the win. In the end Caley Thistle were happier to hear the final whistle, but the draw leaves them in fifth place. It also means that second place is no longer in the Dee’s hands. They have to beat Raith and Queen of the South, and hope that Rovers slip up in their final game.
This was the Dee’s third successive draw, and like the previous two it hardly feels like a good result. Dundee should certainly have won tonight. They were well on top in the second half, creating good openings and chances. The goal they conceded was simply shoddy and probably cost them two points. However, the Dark Blues’ dominance after half time should have resulted in a comfortable win regardless of that slip. Caley Thistle were there to be beaten, and the Dee didn’t do it.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle 4-2-3-1
Carson, Brad McKay, Devine, Deas
Welsh (c), Allardice
Allan (Macgregor 68), Daniel Mackay, Sutherland (Storey 68)
Todorov (Harper 82)
Unused subs: Cameron Mackay (gk), McHattie, Vincent, Lyall.
Goal: Daniel Mackay (84).
Booked: Allardice (foul on McMullan), Carson (dissent).
Sent off: Allardice (foul on Adam), Brad McKay (foul on Anderson).
Dundee FC 4-4-2
Elliott, Fontaine, Ashcroft, Kerr
McMullan, Byrne (Anderson 75), McGhee (c), McDaid
Mullen (Cummings 65), Afolabi (Adam at half time)
Unused subs: Ferrie (gk), Jakubiak, Sow, Fisher.
Goal: Ashcroft (86).
Booked: Elliott (foul on Daniel Mackay).
Referee: Mike Roncone. Assistants: David Doig, Michael MacDermid.
Report: James Christie.