Dundee’s 2020 Scottish Cup campaign ended at the first hurdle when they went down 3-0 to Motherwell at the Kilmac Stadium at Dens Park. Chris Long scored all Well’s goals. The first two came in the first half. Dundee came back strongly after half time but Long’s third goal killed the game and allowed Well to see the game out comfortably.
Jamie Ness, Shaun Byrne and Declan McDaid all returned to the starting line up, with Finlay Robertson and Danny Johnson moving onto the bench and Sean Mackie out through injury. Motherwell made two changes, both in defence. Richard Tait and Peter Hartley came in for Liam Grimshaw and Bevis Mugabi.
Motherwell started the better side without creating any real danger in the opening quarter of an hour. They gradually stepped up their game and started to exert serious pressure on the Dark Blues.
Liam Polworth had the first shot on target, flicking on a cross but Jack Hamilton took that effort comfortably. He’d have been struggling to reach the next shot, a minute later. James Scott cut in from the right and from 18 yards thundered a shot narrowly wide.
Dundee now started to create problems in Well’s penalty area. Shaun Byrne picked up a loose pass, drove forward and found Declan McDaid whose low, angled shot was saved by Gillespie.
However, it was Motherwell who took the lead from a free kick a yard outside the Dundee penalty area. Chris LONG didn’t bother with anything subtle and hammered his shot at the end of the Dee wall. The ball took a huge deflection off Graham Dorrans and sailed into the net leaving Jack Hamilton without a chance.
Dundee responded strongly after falling behind and came desperately close to an equaliser just before the half hour mark. Josh Meekings stayed up after launching a long throw and when the ball came back to him he swept in a great cross that had the Well defence in trouble. Kane Hemmings beat goalie Gillespie in the air, heading the ball goalwards only for Richard Tait to launch himself into a clearance on the goalline.
Instead of being level the Dark Blues were two goals behind within a minute. Well went up the park and Liam Polworth played LONG in to curl his shot round Hamilton from 12 yards.
Dundee continued to push forward. Without being particularly composed or smooth they managed to work their way into positions to send in crosses that Motherwell’s defence often struggled to cope with.
Ross Callachan came on for his debut, replacing Jamie Ness at half time. He injected fresh energy and pace into Dundee’s build ups. Two minutes after the restart Kane Hemmings saw his header from a Dorrans free kick come back off the crossbar. A strong, driving run and pass by Callachan sent McDaid down the left and he cut inside to flash a low 20 yard shot a foot wide.
The Dark Blues were building some momentum and creating more problems for a defence that was still failing to handle Dundee’s crosses. Frustratingly Dundee couldn’t turn promising moves into clear chances against that edgy defence.
Midway through the second half Danny Johnson came on for Shaun Byrne. He was instantly into the action, latching onto a Hemmings flick, running on and shooting wide from the edge of the penalty area. McDaid had a go from 18 yards and his shot took an awkward deflection, but Gillespie recovered well to save. Cammy Kerr had a half chance with a header from a Dorrans cross but Gillespie saved.
The Dark Blues had been the better side in the second half and if they had pulled a goal back they would have made the final stages very interesting. However, their challenge was killed off by Jack Hamilton’s mistake after 74 minutes. Chris LONG tried a speculative shot from 25 yards. It was straight at Hamilton’s head but the keeper fumbled it and the ball was already over the line before he could grab it.
The soft goal sucked the spirit out of the Dark Blues and settled the game. Motherwell had no trouble taking control and seeing out the match. In the latter stages little happened except for Long trying for a fourth goal when he broke free on the right and hit an angled shot across goal and wide.
Motherwell were clearly the stronger side and looked like they belonged in a higher division for much of the first half. However, Dundee responded admirably after the break. They should really have pulled a goal back against some unimpressive defending but they could never quite find the right end to some promising moves. There was a lack of cutting edge in attack, and the defence allowed Well to help themselves to some soft goals tonight. Sadly the 2020 Scottish Cup won’t remain long in the memory of Dundee supporters.
Dundee FC 4-2-3-1
Kerr, Meekings (c), McGhee, Marshall
Ness (Callachan at half time), Byrne (Johnson 66)
McGowan (Cameron 76), Dorrans, McDaid
Unused subs: Ferrie (gk), Forster, Robertson, Strachan.
Booked: McGhee (foul on Tait), Dorrans (foul on Donnelly).
Motherwell FC 4-3-3
Tait, Gallagher, Hartley (c), Carroll
O’Hara, Campbell, Polworth (Donnelly 64)
Scott (Ndjoli 75), Long, Hylton (Seedorf 31)
Unused subs: Carson (gk), Mugabi, Grimshaw, Manzinga.
Goals: Long (21, 29, 74).
Booked: Long (kicking ball away).
Referee: Steven McLean. Assistants: David Doig, Andrew McWilliam
Fourth official: Barry Cook
Report: James Christie.