A spirited Dark Blue team that was weakened by Covid fought their way to a 1-1 draw at Motherwell this afternoon. Paul McMullan gave the Dee an early lead with his first league goal for the club only for Joe Efford to smash in a quick equaliser. Dundee held their own after that, putting in a fine defensive performance to take the point that they deserved.
The Dark Blues were forced to make five changes from the team that drew with Hibs on Wednesday. Ian Lawlor was unavailable so Harrison Sharp came in for his league debut in goal. Lee Ashcroft, Shaun Byrne, Vontae Daley-Campbell and Declan McDaid all started, replacing Charlie Adam, Paul McGowan, Niall McGinn and Danny Mullen.
The first few minutes were spent entirely in the Dundee half, but the Dee were dangerous as soon as they went onto the attack. Jordan Marshall’s left wing cross had to be headed past his own post by Juhani Ojala. Paul McMullan’s corner had Well in trouble before they scrambled clear.
There was no let off for Motherwell after six minutes when the Dark Blues took the lead. Cammy Kerr’s cross flew beyond the far post. Scotland international Stephen O’Donnell was too casual as McMULLAN nicked the ball away from him and whipped a rising shot across keeper Liam Kelly and inside the far post before the defence could recover.
Dundee continued to hold the upper hand as the home fans started to barrack their own players. Max Anderson went close following another poorly defended corner, but his low shot was deflected past the post.
The Dark Blues’ excellent start was undone when they conceded a slackly defended goal after 18 minutes. Dundee failed to clear when they had the chance. Mark O’Hara crossed to Kevin van Veen who held the ball up allowing Joe Offord to shoot. Harrison Sharp saved but couldn’t keep out OFFORD’s fierce second attempt.
The equaliser lifted Well but the Dee continued to hold their own. Vontae Daley-Campbell showed strength and skill to break down the right into the penalty area. He might have shot but tried to set up McMullan in front of goal and his pass was cut off.
Well had a good opportunity when they broke at speed after Dundee lost the ball deep in the home half. O’Hara found O’Donnell in space on the right, but Efford headed wide from the cross.
Motherwell started the second half aggressively putting the Dee under pressure from a series of corners. However, Dundee pushed their hosts back and stopped them building any momentum.
The Dee started to attack with greater conviction and threat. Anderson tested Kelly from 20 yards and the Well keeper fumbled the shot before recovering.
Vontae Daley-Campbell was replaced by Jay Chapman who moved into the central midfield. Anderson went to the left and McMullan switched to the right wing.
The change almost paid immediate dividends. McMullan raced past Ojala and from the cross Declan McDaid hooked his shot past the angle of post and bar. A minute later McDaid had another go. His shot deflected off Jordan McGhee but Kelly was able to readjust and save.
The home crowd was growing increasingly frustrated by Motherwell’s lack of progress, and lack of attacking for long spells in the second half. O’Hara hit a strong 20 yarder wide, and van Veen spun 12 yards out to shoot through a crowd and over the bar. Apart from that Motherwell were largely kept quiet and far away from the Dee goal in the middle of the second half.
With Dundee possibly tiring, Motherwell finally began to pin the Dee in their own half in the last 15 minutes. Dark Blue backs were firmly to the wall until the final whistle and the players defended superbly.
Despite the pressure Motherwell created little in the way of serious chances. Van Veen tried a ferocious shot from wide of goal on the byline and Sharp had to push it out for a corner. A backheel from van Veen almost set up substitute Callum Slattery, but a great challenge by Jordan Marshall took all the power out of the shot allowing Sharp an easy save.
Josh Mulligan came on as a late substitute for Declan McDaid who had put in a long, hard shift in an unfamiliar role, harrying the home defenders and preventing them building easily from the back.
In injury time Kayne Woolery brought a good save from Sharp with a low 18 yarder and that Motherwell’s final threatening moment. Dundee took a point that they fully deserved in very difficult circumstances.
It was hardly a classic Dee performance, but in the circumstances it was a terrific display by those players who were available. After the sloppy equaliser Dundee remained focused, organised and resolute. Many neutrals would have seen the Dark Blues’ problems and marked this game down as a home banker, but the players’ strength of character ensured they headed up the road with the point they deserved.
O’Donnell, Solholm Johansen, Lamie, Ojala
O’Hara (Tierney 76), Donnelly, Goss (Slattery 76)
Woolery, van Veen, Efford
Unused subs: Fox (gk), Carroll, Mugabi, Shaw, Cornelius, Roberts, Shields.
Goal: Efford (18).
Dundee FC 4-2-3-1
Kerr, Sweeney, Ashcroft, Marshall
Byrne, McGhee (c)
Daley-Campbell (Chapman 57), Anderson, McMullan
McDaid (Mulligan 81)
Unused subs: Welsh (gk), Fontaine, Robertson, Ibsen Rossi.
Goal: McMullan (6).
Booked: Daley-Campbell (foul on Goss), Byrne (foul on Tierney).
Attendance: 4,435 (407 Dees).
Referee: Andrew Dallas. Assistants: Ross Macleod, Gordon Crawford. Fourth Official: Euan Anderson.
Report: James Christie.