Dundee traveled to Lanarkshire on the same weekend as last year when Neil McCann took charge of Dundee for the first time and despite a spirited performance, couldn’t replicate the win of 12 months ago against Motherwell. Genséric Kusunga gave Dundee a first half the lead but The Dee could only hold onto it for five minutes when Ryan Bowman headed home and in the second half, a back post header from Cedric Kipre was enough to give The Steelmen a 2-1 win and secure their Premiership status for next season.
McCann picked the same 18 as he did for last weekend’s win over St Johnstone with Paul McGowan again captaining the Dark Blues and wearing their Our Boys red and blue away kit, Dundee got the game underway and nearly scored in the opening seconds when Craig Wighton ghosted in at the back post and headed wide.
There was a blow for Dundee however in the third minute when Sofien Moussa had to go off injured and be replaced by A-Jay Leitch-Smith after making a heavy tackle on Tait.
It took time for Dundee to readjust and there was a let off three minutes later when Ryan Bowman couldn’t connect properly to a Chris Cadden cross and Parish stopped the ball with his chest before gathering.
Dundee went right up the park to attack and with Wighton looking lively, his shot from the edge of the box forced Carson to dive low to his right to save.
Dundee’s first clear cut chance came after 12 minutes when a brilliant McGowan cross field ball found Simon Murray on the edge of the box, towards the right. He took a touch into the box and shot but his angled drive was saved by the body of Carson.
Another chance came Dundee’s way minutes later when a Kusunga header from a Holt free kick was tipped over the bar. Dundee took the corner short and when Wighton eventually put a cross over, Caulker headed wide of target.
Cadden looked dangerous when he drove forward and when his 25 yard shot deflected high into the air off Holt, Main could only miss hit the ball wide from the corner of the six yard box.
The Dee took the lead in 23 minutes when Genseric KUSUNGA scored his first goal for the club and sent the 913 away fans delirious. Simon Murray had run into the ‘Well penalty area and was tackled by Dunne and when the corner came over, Caulker headed it towards the bottom corner only for Kusunga to bundle it home from close range before needing some treatment.
Motherwell however were level just five minutes later and scored from a corner themselves when Chris Cadden sent over the cross after his corner came back to him and Ryan BOWMAN rose highest in the centre of the box to head home.
Dundee’s next chance came after Paul McGowan was fouled in the middle of the park and Holt’s free kick fell to Murray 12 yards out but when he fired into a packed defence, the ball was cleared out of the box.
Dundee kept their ascendancy up towards the end of the first half when Kipre had to look lively to clear the ball from under the feet of Leitch-Smith and then Murray played the ball back to O’Hara on the edge of the box but he fired high over the bar.
Before the second half got underway, Kusunga dropped to the floor and needed treatment before being stretchered off, getting oxygen. The news was ok at full time but he had been injured when scoring the goal and it was bizarre to see him fall down before the game restarted and was replaced by O’Dea.
When the second half finally got underway, it was Motherwell who had the first chance when Main shot from distance but it was deflected into the arms of Parish.
Main then had another shot minutes later from the corner of the box but it sailed high into the Davie Cooper Stand.
Motherwell however did get their second on 51 minutes when Cedric KIPRE headed home from close range for his first goal for the home side after Chris Cadden sent a free kick towards the back post.
Dundee tried to get back into the game quickly but shots from Holt and then O’Hara at the edge of the box were both straight at Motherwell keeper Carson.
The next chance came for Motherwell on the hour after O’Dea was booked for hauling down substitute James Scott by his shirt in the middle of the park. Cadden looped a free kick into the box but Dunne headed wide of Parish’s right hand post.
Leitch-Smith looked to be through on goal shortly after after a beautiful Kamara through ball but a heavy first touch took him well wide of goal and his shot from an impossible angle was held by Carson.
Dundee tried to change things with about ten minutes left by bringing on 20 year old striker Cedwyn Scott to replace Craig Wighton and immediately piled the pressure on the Motherwell goal with a series of corners. Five corners were won pretty much in succession but each time either Dunne, Kipre or McHugh were able to clear.
They had a glorious chance to equalise with three minutes left after debutant Scott was brought down 30 yards from goal. Kevin Holt chipped the free kick to the back post where Steven Caulker headed it back across goal but the waiting O’Hara fired it high over the bar and into the Dundee fans in the McEwan Fraser Stand.
Despite plenty of possession in the four minutes of injury time, another chance just wouldn’t come and the Dark Blues were consigned to an undeserved 2-1 defeat.
The match came on the 56th anniversary of Dundee becoming Champions of Scotland and while Bobby Cox & Co. would have been proud of the effort and endeavour shown at Fir Park, it wasn’t to be. The loss of both Moussa and Kusunga at the start of each half significantly disrupted the pre match game plan and the fight for survival goes onto Dens Park next week.
Motherwell: Carson, Tait, Grimshaw, Cadden, McHugh, Main (MacLean 84′), Bowman (Scott 40’), Dunne, Aldred, Kipre, Campbell (Bigirimana 73’)
Unused Subs: Griffiths, Frear, Ciftci, MacLean, Maguire
Goals: Bowman 28’, Kipre 52’
Dundee FC: Parish, Kerr, Holt, Caulker, Kusunga (O’Dea HT), Kamara, Moussa (Leitch-Smith 3’), O’Hara, Murray, McGowan, Wighton (Scott 79′)
Unused Subs: Ferrie, Aurtenexe, Wolters, Spence
Booked: O’Dea 64’, McGowan 90’
Goals: Kusunga 23’
Referee: Nick Walsh
Assistant Referees: David McGeachie and Ralph Gordon
Fourth Official: Willie Collum
Attendance: 4,064 (913 Dees)