Dundee had to settle for a point from a 1-1 draw in the crucial relegation battle against St Johnstone at the Kilmac Stadium. The Dark Blues tore into Saints from the start and deserved their early lead from Jordan Marshall. St Johnstone came back strongly after half time and Shaun Rooney equalised from a corner midway through the second half. The visitors held out against the Dee’s late charge to take a point that was fair to both teams and which preserves St Johnstone’s five point lead over the Dee.
The Dark Blues were unchanged following the derby draw at Tannadice and started at a high tempo. Dundee’s energy quickly had the sluggish Saints in trouble. Max Anderson and Cammy Kerr took advantage of St Johnstone’s pedestrian midfield with driving runs through the middle.
Saints nevertheless managed the first real goal effort when Jamie McCart hit a dipping shot onto the roof of the net following a corner.
The Dark Blues’ aggressive determination set up the opening goal after 10 minutes. Anderson turned superbly into space on the corner of the penalty area and passed to Paul McGowan who set up Jordan MARSHALL to drill a low shot into the corner of the net from 18 yards.
Three minutes later it was almost two after a fast attack down the left. McGowan dummied over Marshall’s pass allowing Danny Mullen to play him into space. McGowan’s shot struck a defender and flew the wrong side of the post.
Charlie Adam struck a ferocious free kick from near the corner flag into the goalmouth and Saints escaped in the resulting pinball scramble. Ryan Sweeney headed over after Saints’ keeper Zander Clark was tempted into coming for an Adam corner he was unlikerly to reach.
After an anonymous opening 30 minutes St Johnstone came into the game in the last quarter of an hour of the half. Nadir Ciftci brought a great save from Ian Lawlor with a rising shot from 25 yards.
In Saints’ only real opening of the first half Callum Hendry shot weakly wide when he was played into a shooting position. Apart from that St Johnstone wasted all their possession, passing to and fro around the half-way line before giving the ball away with a poor long pass.
St Johnstone reorganised at half time, replacing centre back Dan Cleary with right wing back Tom Sang and Shaun Rooney moving to centre back. There was far greater urgency in the visitors’ midfield and Saints were increasingly able to get into dangerous wide positions, which they had failed to do in the first half.
Saints were doing most of the attacking with Dundee sitting back and trying to hit on the break. Early in the second half Luke McCowan came on for Paul McGowan. McCowan combined with Anderson in a clever attack, but could only win a corner.
For all St Johnstone’s second half attacking they had failed to create clear chances until a frantic flurry in the middle of the half. Sweeney cleared Callum Booth’s shot off the line and Kerr cleared from Ciftci’s follow up. Two corners followed with Saints equalising from the second.
The Dee defence couldn’t deal with a corner driven into the six yard box and ROONEY won the battle to force home his header. Saints went after a quck follow up and Lawlor had to push Murray Davidson’s 18 yard shot away for a corner.
The Dark Blues made a double substitution, sending on Zak Rudden and Niall McGinn for Shaun Byrne and Paul McGowan. Dundee had the better of the last 15 minutes, doing most of the late attacking.
There were plenty of promising moves and hopeful crosses flying into the danger area, but Dundee players couldn’t get a decisive touch on the end of any of them.
St Johnstone’s determination to hang onto a point was summed up by ruthless fouls in the last few minutes. Substitute Josh Mulligan and Danny Mullen were both scythed down from behind as they raced for the penalty area before they could set up a team mate. After the second offence Charlie Adam’s free kick struck Saints’ defensive wall from 30 yards and the referee blew the final whistle.
Dundee were excellent for the first half hour attacking with pace, urgency and creativity. They could not sustain that high tempo for the whole game, but they could and should have been able to keep the game tighter in the second half. The Dee were sometimes too careless on the ball when they came forward. St Johnstone were always more dangerous when they were allowed to break with Dundee stretched.
So it was disappointing that the Dee conceded that vital equaliser from a simple corner, an equaliser that leaves Dundee with a tough fight on their hands if they are to climb off the bottom of the Premiership.
Dundee FC 4-3-2-1
Kerr, Sweeney, McGhee, Marshall
Anderson (Mulligan 81), Byrne (Rudden 74), Adam (c)
McMullan (McCowan 51), McGowan (McGinn 74)
Unused subs: Sharp (gk), Fontaine, McDaid, Elliott, Ibsen Rossi.
Goal: Marshall (10).
Booked: Adam (simulation).
St Johnstone 3-5-2
Cleary (Sang at half time), Gordon (c), McCart
Rooney, Davidson, Hallberg, Crawford (MacPherson 64), Booth
Ciftci (Ciftci 81), Hendry
Unused subs: Parish (gk), Mahon, Brown, Butterfield, Bair, Middleton.
Goal: Rooney (68).
Booked: Davidson (foul on Mulligan), McCart (foul on Mullen).
Attendance: 7,937 (2,031 away).
Referee: Bobby Madden. Assistants: Calum Spence, Andy Milne. Fourth Official:
Report: James Christie.