It was a familiar tale for Dundee this afternoon as the Dark Blues missed chance after chance and lost 1-0 to Rangers at the Kilmac Stadium. Joe Aribo scored the early winner and Rangers went on to dominate the possession statistics. But Dundee had the better chances and even missed a second half penalty when Jason Cummings failed to score after Paul McMullan was fouled as he was about to put the ball into an open goal.
James McPake made one change from Wednesday night. Ryan Sweeney came in for Paul McGowan as the Dee switched to five at the back.
Dundee got off to a fast start, taking only six seconds to get their first shot in. From the kick off Paul McMullan startled Rangers by racing past three players before his shot from 18 yards was blocked. The ball was quickly returned into the penalty area but Leigh Griffiths couldn’t get any power in his header.
The Dee did all the attacking in the first few minutes and continued to threaten, particularly at set pieces, against a sloppy Rangers defence. Lee Ashcroft headed on a corner but Leigh Griffiths couldn’t react quickly enough at the far post and his header was weak and cleared.
Rangers may have been surprisingly poor at the back but they soon started to look ominously dangerous as they moved the ball slickly around in the final third. Kemal Roofe turned and flashed a shot past the post at the end of a sustained Rangers attack.
Dundee passed up another great chance when Jordan McGhee ran unmarked onto Liam Fontaine’s cross, but sent his header straight at McLaughlin from six yards.
After 16 minutes the visitors took the lead with a cleverly worked goal. Alfredo Morelos’s quick flick played Joe ARIBO through on goal, and he calmly clipped the ball past Adam Legzdins.
Rangers continued to struggle defending set pieces and could have conceded a quick equaliser when they failed to clear a corner. The ball bounced agonisingly around in the goalmouth with no Dark Blue able to get a clean shot in.
Leigh Griffiths had two shots on target within a minute, but Rangers keeper Jon McLaughlin dealt well with both. The first was an 18 yard volley after a free kick was headed on to him. Rangers immediately lost possession when they tried to come forward and McGhee played Griffiths in. The striker moved the ball onto his left foot but couldn’t get enough power in his shot.
Goldson was short with a headed backpass that Griffiths intercepted before McLaughlin could reach it but Rangers were able to scramble their way out of trouble. Balogun was extremely lucky when he tried to play out from the back in front of his own goal. With his goalkeeper out of position he played a pass against the nearby McMullan and was relieved when the ball rebounded to him.
Rangers had more of the ball but were creating fewer chances. Roofe had another good effort when he skillfully made space and his fierce shot was pushed over by Legzdins.
Leigh Griffiths was carrying an ankle injury and was replaced late in the first half by Jason Cummings.
Dundee were dangerous right from the start of the second half. Ryan Sweeney got onto the end of Paul McMullan’s free kick but sent his header straight at McLaughlin.
Max Anderson robbed Glen Kamara in midfield but with Rangers’ defence wide open he overhit the pass that should have sent Cummings clear.
Rangers then put Dundee under a prolonged spell of extreme pressure but couldn’t break down the stout Dark Blue defence. When a chance came it was at the other end.
Anderson hit a fine long pass for McMullan whose first touch with his chest took the last man, Goldson, out of the game. McMullan raced in on goal, rounded the keeper, but was flattened by McLaughlin’s challenge before he could roll the ball into the empty goal.
Referee Bobby Madden decided the keeper’s goal-saving foul was worth only a yellow card and McLaughlin stayed on the field to block Cummings’ penalty kick. The ball rebounded high into the air and McLaughlin was able to gather it as it came down.
The last half hour was spent mainly in the Dundee half as Rangers probed for a second goal and the Dark Blues defended impressively.
Rangers remained slack and vulnerable at the back. There was always hope that a Dee break would catch them out, or Rangers’ luck at set pieces would run out. Jordan Marshall had two excellent runs down the left in which he skinned Tavernier each time, but McGhee headed wide the first time, and a desperate last ditch tackle halted the second raid.
In injury time Rangers had two players booked for time wasting, which tells a story of how the game went. Dundee got almost everything right today. The game plan was effective. The defence was tight and Rangers had to craft a very good goal to get past the Dee back line. Dundee were always competitive and worked hard in midfield and attack where they harried Rangers and forced a stream of mistakes from the league leaders.
Sadly none of the openings resulted in a goal, and that was the Dark Blues only, but massive, failing today.
Dundee FC 5-3-2
Kerr, Ashcroft, Sweeney, Fontaine, Marshall
McGhee (c), Byrne (Jakubiak 73), Anderson (McGowan 61)
McMullan, Griffiths (Cummings 39)
Unused subs: Lawlor (gk), McCowan, Panter, Sheridan.
Booked: Marshall (foul on Tavernier).
Tavernier, Goldson, Balogun, Bassey
Aribo, Lundstram, Kamara
Roofe (Bacuna 81), Morelos (Sakala 66), Hagi (Wright 73)
Unused subs: McGregor, Davis, Patterson, Barisic.
Goal. Aribo (16).
Booked: McLaughlin (foul on McMullan), Aribo (timewasting), Bacuna (timewasting).
Referee: Bobby Madden. Assistants: David Roome, Graham McNeillie. Fourth Official: Calum Scott.
Report: James Christie.