Dundee opened their pre-season friendly campaign with a highly competitive 3-1 win over St Mirren in Paisley tonight. The match was a tighter affair than the scoreline suggests and the Championship side gave the Dark Blues a tough workout. Skipper Darren O’Dea scored twice from corners in the first half. When Marcus Haber added a third early in the second half a Dundee win looked certain. Although Gavin Reilly quickly pulled a goal back St Mirren couldn’t find the net again and an inexperienced Dark Blue defence held out despite some fierce pressure.
The Buddies created a few uncomfortable moments for Dundee in the early stages. St Mirren’s energetic running and quick passing forced a series of fouls. Lewis Morgan went close with a 25 yard free kick, then Scott Bain saved brilliantly when Cammy Smith spun on the ball and shot from just inside the penalty area.
When the Dark Blues started to settle on the ball they looked dangerous and took the lead after 10 minutes. Scott Allan’s corner was fumbled under the crossbar by former Dee keeper Craig Samson, allowing Darren O’DEA to scramble the ball over the line.
Allan’s inventive and incisive passing was giving Dundee a creative edge in midfield. The Dark Blues were looking likely to add to their lead but almost allowed Saints back into the game with sloppy defending. Gavin Reilly was allowed to burst through two tackles before Scott Bain parried his fierce shot. A wayward crossfield pass from trialist number 15 went straight to Morgan allowing him to run in on goal, but Bain saved again.
Dundee were playing some good passing football through the mdifield but went closest following a burst out of defence by Mark O’Hara. At the end of a long run he set up Faissal El Bakhtaoui, but Samson saved well.
After 38 minutes Dundee scored again from a corner. Instead of sending the ball straight into the goalmouth Allan exchanged passes with trialist number 15 before whipping over an excellent cross to the far post where O’DEA powered a header into the net.
Dundee made nine changes at half time, with only Scott Bain and trialist number 17 remaining on the pitch.
Three minutes into the second half the Dark Blues went 3-0 up. Danny Williams found trialist number 22 in space on the left, and his low cross was turned past Samson by Marcus HABER.
The scoreline was harsh on a St Mirren team who had been in contention throughout the game and it was no surprise when they quickly pulled a goal back. Bain dallied too long on a passback, and when he was closed down he couldn’t clear the ball beyond the edge of the penalty area. Gavin REILLY collected the ball and scored with a low shot.
For a friendly there was no shortage of towsy moments and referee Mr Cook had to stop play several times to warn players to behave. Aside from some tasty tackles there were a couple of incidents when players squared up to each other, although Lewis Spence was the only player to be booked, for leading with his elbow.
Midway though the second half the number 17 trialist was replaced by Sam Dryden, who went to right back. Cammy Kerr moved into the centre and was by far the most experienced member of the back four.
St Mirren dominated the last half hour, but the young defence held out. There were a few hairy moments in the Dundee penalty area and Scott Bain had to make some saves but these were mostly routine stops. The exception was a fine save after a Dark Blue defensive mix up. Connor McManus seemed sure to score after dragging the ball into space but Bain saved superbly.
The game finished with St Mirren still pushing hard for a consolation goal. Manager Neil McCann must be pleased with such a competitive opening to the season. This was no half tempo kick about. Despite the numerous subsitutions the pace of the match never slackened and it was a highly watchable encounter right to the end.
St Mirren 4-3-3
Samson (Stewart 72)
Whyte MacPherson 76), Baird, MacKenzie, Demetriou
Magennis (Stewart 72), McGinn, Morgan (Sutton 82)
Hilson (Kirkpatrick 66), Smith (Todd 59), Reilly (MacPherson 76)
Unused subs: Flanagan, McDonald.
Goal: Reilly (55).
Dundee FC first half 4-2-3-1
Curran, O’Dea (c), Trialist 17, Holt
O’Hara, Trialist 15
Wolters, Allan, Wighton
Dundee FC second half 4-2-3-1
Kerr, Waddell, Trialist 17 (Dryden 69), Quigley
Trialist 22, Spence
Deacon, McGowan, Williams
Unused subs: Ferrie (gk), I Smith.
Goals: O’Dea (10, 38), Haber (48).
Booked: Spence (foul on McGinn).
Referee: Barry Cookk. Assistants: Stuart Hodge, Kevin McIlhinney.
Report: James Christie.