The Dark Blues hung onto top spot in Betfred Cup group D by taking the bonus point from the penalty shoot out after a goalless draw against Peterhead at the Kilmac Stadium at Dens Park. In a scrappy 90 minutes neither side did enough to trouble the goalkeepers, although Jack Hamilton rescued the Dee with a fine save when Ben Armour was clean through late in the match.
There were three changes to the Dundee team that drew at Cove on Wednesday. Josh Meekings and Declan McDaid returned to the starting eleven, and Josh Mulligan was given his first start. Jordan McGhee and Craig Curran were on the bench, and Jamie Ness was unavailable through injury. Peterhead also made three changes. Derek Lyle, Jack Leitch and Rory McAllister came in for Michael Dunlop, Willie Gibson and Aidan Smith.
Peterhead got off to a lively start and soon had a sluggish Dee team under pressure. They had frequent excursions into the Dark Blue penalty area, winning four corners in the first ten minutes. From the last of these Derek Lyle glanced a header a couple of feet wide
Dundee produced the occasional good moment, but these were too few and never amounted to a serious threat to the away goal. Declan McDaid curled a shot wide after one slick move, and that was all the Dee had to offer in a disappointing first half.
Peterhead’s Jack Leitch went close from 20 yards after crafting a smart move with Rory McAllister. Leitch had another decent effort from further out, but Jack Hamilton touched it over the bar.
Peterhead had the better of the first half, but like the Dark Blues, lacked a cutting edge. The visitors were hampered when their prolific scorer McAllister limped out of the game after 33 minutes.
In first half injury time Josh Mulligan set up Paul McGowan to break over the half way line, but he was eventually crowded out. That summed up a poor game; a fleeting moment of promise that amounted to nothing.
The second half brought a slight initial improvement with Dundee doing more of the attacking. But the Dee still couldn’t find a final ball to worry the defence. Peterhead’s goalkeeper Greg Fleming wasn’t called upon to face any worthwhile shots until the penalty shoot out.
The longer the second half wore on the scrappier the match became. Shaun Byrne went closest with an optimistic 40 yard free kick that took a helpful deflection to send the ball looping over the keeper and a foot over the bar.
Dundee threw on Craig Curran for Josh Mulligan, and then Michael Cunningham came on for his debut, replacing Shaun Byrne. The fresh legs brought an injection of energy, but no more fluency.
Dundee tried hard to force a winner as Peterhead were happy to sit back and soak up pressure, which they did successfully. The Dark Blues’ passing was slow and the movement was never sharp enough to create space around the penalty area.
The Dark Blues’ only half chance in the last 20 minutes came when Cunningham cut the ball back for Nelson to turn and twist before screwing his shot off a defender and past the post.
The visitors almost snatched a winner when Dundee lost concentration at a Peterhead throw in, allowing substitute Ben Armour to run unchallenged through the middle. Happily Jack Hamilton pulled off an instinctive save to knock the shot away.
The penalty shoot out was taken in front of the Bobby Cox Stand, with Dundee going first. Fleming saved Declan McDaid’s penalty. Gibson then put Peterhead ahead with Craig Curran equalising for the Dee. Jack Leitch sent Peterhead’s second penalty over the bar. Cunningham and Nelson converted their spot kicks with Smith succeeding for Peterhead. Stevenson hit the bar with the visitors’ fourth penalty allowing Paul McGowan to settle the shoot out. Dundee’s number 10 did the needful and the Dee won 4-2, earning a bonus point that might prove valuable.
Dundee’s first competitive home match of the season didn’t provide much for the fans to enjoy. They never succeeded in getting their passing game going and there was little cutting edge in attack. On the bright side Jack Hamilton and his defence kept a third successive clean sheet, which is very welcome after last season’s struggles.
Dundee FC 4-2-3-1
Kerr, Forster, Meekings (c), Marshall
Robertson, Byrne (Cunningham 75)
Mulligan (Curran 62), McGowan, McDaid
Unused subs: Ferrie (gk), McGhee, Strachan, Anderson, Fisher.
Booked: Meekings (foul on Fraser), McDaid (simulation).
Peterhead FC 4-4-2
Stevenson, Jason Brown, Eadie, Boyle
Fraser (Gibson 67), Ferry, Scott Brown, Leitch
Lyle (Armour 72), McAllister (c) (Smith 33)
Unused subs: Henderson (gk), Dunlop, Willox.
Booked: Jason Brown (foul on McGowan).
Referee: Greg Aitken. Assistants: Douglas Ross, Joseph Lawson.
Report: James Christie.