Dundee went down to a narrow 1-0 defeat against Dundee United at Tannadice in the first derby of the season. The Dark Blues had the better chances in a tight and tense game. They failed to convert any of them and Ian Harkes’ goal after 81 minutes gave United all three points.
James McPake made two changes from the team that drew with Livingston. Paul McGowan and Paul McMullan started, replacing Luke McCowan and Alex Jakubiak, who were on the bench.
Dundee kicked off and went straight onto the attack. Cammy Kerr shot over from 20 yards in the first minute. United played some neat early moves approaching the Dundee penalty area, but without posing any real threat to the Dark Blues’ defence.
Dundee were moving the ball more quickly into the final third and Leigh Griffiths went close twice. Both were from fine crosses whipped in from the left by Jordan Marshall. Griffiths headed narrowly wide from the first. His smart volley from the second brought a good save from Siegrist.
Ryan Sweeney literally faced down a fiere McNulty shot at close range and required treatment before he could continue. Ten minutes from the interval he was replaced by Liam Fontaine. That was a concussion substitution, which meant that the Dee could make three further changes.
The closest that United came in the first half was when Peter Pawlett cut infield from the right wing. His shot from 20 yards was touched onto the outside of the post by Adam Legzdins’ fingertips.
The longer the half wore on the scrappier play became. Neither side could find the composure required to break through. The ball was given away cheaply far too often by both sides before they could trouble the defences.
The game did not become any tidier after the restart and neither defence was in any real trouble in the first 25 minutes.
After 71 minutes the Dee came desperately close when Shaun Byrne made space for himself just inside United’s penalty area. His shot was charged down with Siegrist already committed and the loose ball rebounded to Leigh Griffiths in front of goal. With the ball rising Griffiths couldn’t keep his shot down and the Dee’s best chance scooped over the crossbar.
Alex Jakubiak came on for Max Anderson and Jason Cummings replaced Paul McGowan as Dundee knew that this was a game they could win and refused to settle for a point.
With quarter of an hour to go Dundee looked the more likely side to force a winner. United had been playing some tidy football a long way from goal but had shown little cutting edge when they tried to break through the Dee defence.
After 81 minutes United grabbed a goal out of nothing when a move broke down on the edge of Dundee’s penalty area. Ian HARKES wasn’t closed down quickly enough. He picked up the loose ball and scored with a curling shot that Legzdins got his glove to but couldn’t keep out.
James McPake responded by sending on Cillian Sheridan in the place of Cammy Kerr. It almost paid off when Sheridan burst through on goal, but Mulgrew’s desperate last gasp tackle knocked the ball away as he was about to shoot.
Leigh Griffiths shot into the side netting area from a free kick on the right. In injury time the Dee went agonisingly close to an equaliser from another free kick. The ball broke to Jordan Marshall whose low shot beat Siegrist but was cleared off the line by Edwards.
This was a game lost by the finest of margins. Neither side was at their best, but United took the honours because they managed to win more of the few key moments in a very close derby.
Dundee United 4-3-2-1
Kerr Smith (Freeman 65), Edwards, Mulgrew, McMann
Fuchs, Butcher (Levitt at half time), Harkes
Niskanen (Apperé 58), Pawlett
McNulty (Clark 80)
Unused subs: Carson (gk), Reynolds, Hoti.
Goal: Harkes (81).
Booked: Butcher (foul on Anderson), Smith (foul on Jakubiak), McMann (foul on McMullan).
Dundee FC 4-3-3
Kerr (Sheridan 85), Ashcroft, Sweeney (Fontaine 35), Marshall
Anderson (Jakubiak 60), Byrne, McGhee
McMullan, Griffiths, McGowan (Cummings 74)
Unused subs: Lawlor (gk), McCowan, Panter.
Booked: Ashcroft (foul on Niskanen), Byrne (foul on Harkes).
Referee: John Beaton. Assistants: Graeme Stewart, Dougie Potter. Fourth Official: Don Robertson.
Report: James Christie.