Luke McCowan’s wonderful 30 yard free kick gave Dundee a 1-0 win over Livingston at the Scot Foam Stadium this afternoon. Victory gave the Dee maximum points from the double header of home and away Premiership games against Livingston in nine days. After an untidy first half the Dark Blues broke through to score the winner early in the second half. A resolute team performance ensured there was no way back for Livingston and Dundee held on to take three valuable points which takes them into 6th place in the Premiership.
The Dark Blues made three changes from Wednesday night. Jordan McGhee, Lyall Cameron and Zak Rudden started in the places of Aaron Donnelly, Malachi Boateng, who were on the bench, and the injured Scott Tiffoney.
The first half of last week’s game at Livingston was poor. This week was little better. There were a couple of chances this time, but moments of inspiration and excitement were rare. Simple errors were far too common.
Dundee managed a few promising attacks, but too often the Dark Blues’ moves ground to a halt when they gave the ball away.
Livingston came closest to scoring in that turgid first half. James Penrice took advantage of Dee sloppiness to race away down the left. His cross found Joel Nouble and he volleyed over the bar when he could, and should, have done better.
Dundee’s best moment came late in the half. Rickie Lamie sent a powerful header narrrowly wide from Owen Beck’s free kick.
Apart from Nouble’s miss Livingston created little on their own. However, an away goal was always a possibility if they were able to take advantage of one of Dundee’s regular mistakes.
Dundee’s inability to retain possession or create any consistent goal threat required a change at half time. Unsurprisingly Malachi Boateng was sent on. He took the place of Mo Sylla, who was hardly one of the most wasteful culprits.
The Dark Blues improved after the interval, attacking with more conviction. Dundee began to send good balls into Livingston’s penalty area and looked increasingly dangerous from set pieces. Joe Shaughnessy headed across goal and wide with no-one able to get a touch. Rickie Lamie then sent a header straight at Jack Hamilton in the Livingston goal.
After 53 minutes Livingston lost possession inside their own half and Zak Rudden raced goalwards. Sean Kelly wiped him out crudely before he could reach the penalty area. Referee Alan Muir produced his red card, but was advised to check the VAR screen. After doing so he decided that another Livingston defender, probably Michael Devlin, could have covered. The red card was changed to yellow, and play restarted after four minutes with a Dundee free kick 30 yards from goal.
Well, it was certainly worth the wait! Luke McCOWAN swept a magnificent free kick over the wall and into the top corner.
At first there was little response from Livingston. The visitors had plenty of the ball, but no penetration against a tight Dee defence. Dundee looked more likely to add to their lead than lose an equaliser.
After 70 minutes Dundee sent on Zach Robinson and Ryan Howley for Amadou Bakayoko and Lyall Cameron.
As the game wore on, and we entered the last 15 minutes of normal time, Livingston began to put more worrying balls into the penalty area. The Dee defenders really had to earn their wages in the later stages.
Livingston struggled to create chances against the resolute Dark Blues. Substitute Michael Nottingham headed wide. Another substitute, Bruce Anderson, sent a tricky chance on the volley over the bar. There was a scramble at a corner that Dee nerves could have done without.
Dundee could have settled the game, and our nerves when Robinson was played into space and smashed an angled shot which took a slight deflection, which sent it just the wrong side of the post. Shaughnessy headed wide from a corner.
In injury time Trevor Carson had to pull off the save of the game. A harmless shot took a horrible deflection off Antonio Portales, but the keeper reacted superbly to save.
Six minutes of injury time were announced, but that stretched out to 11 minutes after a bad injury to Michael Nottingham that required him to be stretchered off.
Dundee have played better this season without winning. Three points and a clean sheet today were vitally important after Wednesday’s bad defeat. The way Dundee won wasn’t pretty, but the players dug in to ensure that they did win. The defence is fully entitled to enjoy that precious clean sheet, and they got effective support from the hard working midfield in front of them – especially in the second half. Livingston must be frustrated that they could not turn pressure into goals, but they paid the price for a lack of cutting edge that could cut open the Dee defence.
This was much more like the Dee we’ve seen earlier in the season. They can be a very hard team to beat. Most of the game might have been forgettable, but we will remember Luke McCowan’s wonderful winner for a long time.
Dundee FC 3-5-2
Portales, Shaughnessy (c), Lamie
McGhee, Cameron (Howley 70), Sylla (Boateng at half time), McCowan, Beck (Donnelly 90)
Bakayoko (Robinson 70), Rudden
Unused substitutes: Legzdins (gk), Kerr, Pineda, Reilly, Robertson.
Goal: McCowan (57).
Booked: Shaughnesssy (foul on Pittman), McCowan (foul on Shinnie).
Livingston FC 4-3-1-2
Welch-Hayes (Nottingham 65, Parkes 90+7), Devlin (c), Sean Kelly, Penrice
Shinnie, Pittman, Holt (Sangare 65)
Lloyd (MacKay 50)
Nouble, Stephen Kelly (Anderson 60)
Unused substitutes: George (gk), Brandon, Bradley, Guthrie.
Booked: Lloyd (foul on Beck), Sean Kelly (foul on Rudden), Nottingham (foul on Robinson).
Referee: Alan Muir. Assistants: Graeme Stewart, David Dunne. Fourth Official: Stewart Luke. VAR: Don Robertson. Assistant VAR: Daniel McFarlane.
Attendance: 4,769 (140 away).
Report: James Christie.