Dundee and Livingston served up a goalless draw in the Boxing Day fixture at the Kilmac Stadium at Dens Park. Chances were hard to come by and both teams went closest with shots from distance when Nathan Ralph struck the crossbar for Dundee and Steven Lawless did the same for Livi.
The Dark Blues made three changes following Saturday’s game at Celtic. Kenny Miller, Darren O’Dea and Calvin Miller returned to the starting 11. Ryan Inniss and Adil Nabi moved to the bench and Martin Woods was a late call off after being listed on the team sheet. Glen Kamara, who was originally named as a substitute, replaced him. Livingston’s only change was Nicky Cadden coming in for Scott Robinson.
The game may have been short of high quality, but there were moments of good football from two sides who were keen to get forward. Neither side, however, could find the cutting edge or the little bit of luck to break through.
Dundee quickly showed they wanted to move the ball quickly down the flanks and find gaps between the Livi wing backs and the centre backs. Jesse Curran and Calvin Miller both had some success with this, without producing the final ball the Dee needed.
A low corner by Jesse Curran caused chaos when it flew into the goalmouth. After a spot of pinball Keaghan Jacobs smashed the ball against his teammate Dolly Menga with the rebound pinging over the crossbar. Calvin Miller took the resulting corner, Kenny Miller headed on and Andy Boyle was inches away from turning the ball in at the far post.
Within a minute Nathan Ralph went even closer when he lashed a superb, rising 30 yarder against the crossbar. Jack Hamilton had to spring into action, reacting quickly to turn a 40 yard free kick from Jacobs wide after players lunged at the ball in front of him without connecting.
When Livingston beat Dundee in October their centre backs caused Dundee endless problems from set pieces. Today they showed that they are more than a team that just looks for set pieces. They mixed up their game with some thoughtful football on the ground amongst long balls towards Menga. Craig Halkett wasn’t far away from reaching Declan Gallagher’s header across goal as both centre backs ventured a long way from their own half in open play.
The Dark Blues went close twice early in the second half. Benjamin Källman glanced a header wide from a Curran cross. Livi’s keeper Sean Kelly made a good reaction save to keep out Kenny Miller’s shot after Dundee’s captain got a toe to a long ball over the top.
Dundee started to crank up the pressure, without creating much in the way of real danger as they buzzed around Livingston’s penalty area. Darren O’Dea glanced a header past the angle of post and bar. At the other end Steven Lawless also sent a dipping shot from 25 yards close to the corner of the goalframe. That was a ranging shot and a couple of minutes later he tried a similar shot from the same distance and this time his effort clipped the crossbar.
Dundee for once pulled Livi’s defence out of position on the break. Kenny Miller set up Jesse Curran, who dragged his shot wide from 18 yards.
Late in the match Livingston’s substitute striker Jack Hamilton was red carded for an off the ball incident involving Darren O’Dea. That curbed Livi’s ambition and injury time was spent with the Dee frantically chasing a winner, but unable to find the spark they needed to grab a goal.
For a goalless draw this was a surprisingly open game. Both teams were happy to combine passing with early long balls for the strikers to contest and there were long passages when the play was surging from end to end. The Dark Blues were desperate for a victory and three points but in the end had to settle for a single point and a clean sheet on a day when the defenders on each side had the decisive edge.
Dundee FC 4-4-2
Kerr, Boyle, O’Dea, Ralph
Curran, McGowan, Woods, Calvin Miller (Nabi 70)
Källman, Kenny Miller (c)
Unused subs: Parish (gk), Kamara, Nabi, Inniss, Spence, Moore, Lambert.
Booked: Boyle (foul on Menga), McGowan (foul on Pittman).
Gallagher, Halkett (c), Lithgow
Lawless, Byrne, Jacobs (Sibbald at half time), Pitman, Cadden
Menga (Miller 76), Hardie (Hamilton 66)
Unused subs: Stewart (gk), Saunders, McMillan, Lawson.
Sent off: Hamilton (off the ball foul on O’Dea)
Attendance: 4,905 (266 away supporters).
Referee: Bobby Madden. Assistants: David McGeachie, John McCrossan. Fourth Official: Nick Walsh.
Report: James Christie.