Dundee went down 2-0 to St Johnstone at the Kilmac Stadium in the Premier Sports Cup quarter final. The Dee had the better of the game but after Shaun Rooney put Saints on 70 minutes there was no way back for the Dee and Ali Crawford added a late second.
The only change to Dundee’s starting eleven was Liam Fontaine retaining his place after coming on for the injured Ryan Sweeney on Sunday. Jason Cummings was unavailable through illness.
The game got off to a lively start with both teams chasing an early goal. Saints managed a couple of early crosses that kept the Dark Blues’ defence on their toes, but Dundee came closest to a breakthrough. Saints’ defence got in a mess at a corner when the ball bounced off Jamie McCart and Zander Clark had to paw it clear from under his crossbar.
Adam Legzdins tipped over a 25 yarder from David Wotherspoon before the Dee almost scored from a fast break. Leigh Griffiths’ cross was met by Jordan McGhee’s diving header but the ball flew straight at Clark and the keeper parried. Either side and it would have been a goal.
A slack pass by Shaun Rooney across the face of the Saints defence was picked up Griffiths who tried to catch Clark out with an instant shot that flew just past the post.
The Dee’s last chance of the half came when Cammy Kerr sprinted the length of the pitch to get on the end of Max Anderson’s cross but Clark saved again at the expense of a corner.
Saints might not have created any chances that were anywhere near as good as Dundee’s but their approach play always looked dangerous and the Dee defence did well to restrict their opportunities.
By far St Johnstone’s best chance of the first half came when Legzdins misjudged a long pass and was out of position when Glenn Middleton picked up possession wide on the right. Cammy Kerr blocked the cross and when the ball came back to Middleton he tried to score from an ambitious angle, missing by several yards.
Dundee flew at Saints from the start of the second half. Anderson’s burst through the middle was stopped by a cynical foul. Griffiths’ shot from the resulting free kick was parried by Clark into the path of McMullan but the winger shot against the keeper’s body.
The Dark Blues continued to dominate against a Saints team that couldn’t summon up the neat approach play of the first half. Frustratingly, Dundee could not find the inspiration to break through.
As has happened too often recently Dundee were made to pay for failing to take their chances. With 20 minutes to go St Johnstone took the lead from a scrappily defended corner. The ball broke to Shaun ROONEY six yards out and he spun to squeeze the ball over the line.
The goal turned the game emphatically in Saints’ favour. The visitors grew in confidence and composure, while Dundee never recovered from the setback.
The Dark Blues kept working hard and nagging away at the St Johnstone defence, but their efforts lacked conviction. Saints were far more comfortable after the goal and looked more likely to add a second on the break than concede an equaliser.
The second goal followed a run down the left by Callum Booth. Cammy Kerr misjudged his tackle and Booth’s cutback allowed Ali CRAWFORD to score from 15 yards with a shot that took a deflection past Legzdins.
This was the fourth successive match in which the Dee have failed to score, but as with the previous games the best chances fell to Dundee and the opposition keeper had to work harder than Adam Legzdins. The Dark Blues are creating good chances, but struggling to turn them into goals.
There were good performances throughout the team tonight, particularly in defence until the two sloppily conceded late goals. That was the story of the night. Dundee did well for long periods, but failed to follow it through and take the win that seemed to be within their grasp. They fell short when it mattered.
Dundee FC 4-3-3
Kerr, Ashcroft, Fontaine, Marshall
Anderson (McCowan 80), Byrne, McGhee (c) (Sheridan 74)
McMullan, Griffiths, McGowan
Unused subs: Lawlor (gk), Sharp (gk), Jakubiak, Elliott, Robertson, Panter.
Booked: Marshall (foul on Kane).
St Johnstone 3-4-3
Brown (O’Halloran 44), Ambrose, McCart
Rooney, Wotherspoon, Craig, Booth
Crawford (Gilmour 90), Kane (Hendry 90), Middleton (May 63)
Unused subs: Parish (gk), Devine, Vertainen, Denoncker, Ballantyne.
Goals. Rooney (70), Crawford (84).
Booked: Crawford (foul on Anderson), Booth (foul on McMullan), Wotherspoon (foul on Kerr).
Referee: Steven McLean. Assistants: Ross Macleod, Craig Ferguson. Fourth Official: Euan Anderson.
Report: James Christie.