Dundee fought back dramatically from being two goals down to take a well deserved 2-2 draw against Dundee United in the derby at Tannadice. Nicky Clark’s header gave United the lead at half time. Charlie Mulgrew made it 2-0 early in the second half. But the Dee hit back strongly and scored twice in two minutes. Danny Mullen headed in the first, and Charlie Adam scored from 30 yards to spark joy in the away stands.
Mark McGhee made two changes to the Dee’s starting eleven. Charlie Adam and Max Anderson came in for Christie Elliott and Zak Rudden as the Dark Blues switched to a four man defence.
Neither keeper was given any real trouble in a scrappy opening. The Dark Blues did put themselves in unnecessary trouble when they failed to deal with a high ball, allowing Tony Watt to nick it away. United couldn’t take advantage as the ball flew to and fro across goal.
The opening goal for United after 12 minutes was worse than merely unnecessary. A corner was botched so badly it ended up near the halfway line without a Dee touching it. Liam Smith tidied up, and rather than take a chance with Paul McMullan closing him down, he hooked the ball high back towards the penalty area. Ian Lawlor made the fateful decision to come out for a dropping ball he was never going to reach. Ross Graham won the header, setting up Nicky CLARK to head into the open goal. Losing a goal from a corner is always disappointing, but losing one from such a poor corner was something else.
The Dark Blues responded by taking the game to United and had a slight edge in open play, but rarely posed any serious goal threat. Nevertheless they should have equalise when Danny Mullen had a horrendous close range miss from a Jordan Marshall cross, miskicking in front of an open goal and allowing Siegrist to gather.
Dundee kept threatening to create opportunities on the wings, particularly on the right where McMullan continually found space behind left wing back Ilmari Niskanen. However, the Dee could never find the right final ball, or get a man onto the end of a good cross.
If United’s defence was comfortable they did not offer any more threat in attack than the Dee as neither team could rise above the derby tension. After the goal both teams went for safe options and there was little to thrill the fans.
Niall McGinn replaced Paul McGowan at half time as the Dee tried to find a cutting edge. It certainly paid off.
The second half could not have been more different from the first. The opening of the half gave no indication of what was to come, but after 55 minutes United won a free kick wide on the right.
With everyone expecting a cross Charlie MULGREW hit a spectacular, whipped, curling free kick across goal and inside the far post.
Based on what we had seen up to that point a United victory looked a safe bet, but the Dark Blues put in a fantastic response and were back on level terms only six minutes later.
Niall McGinn took a pass from Shaun Byrne but Siegrist parried his shot. Dundee kept United pinned back in the same prolonged attack and found the goal they desperately needed to drag themselves back into the match.
Cammy Kerr hit a teasing cross to the far that seemed to be floating over Siegrist. The keeper managed to get a faint touch, but could not stop the ball reaching Danny MULLEN, who headed home from close range after 59 minutes.
The Dark Blue support was in full voice and roared the Dee on as they sensed the momentum swinging right around in Dundee’s favour.
Only two minutes after the first goal Mullen fed a short pass to Charlie ADAM 30 yards from goal and the Dee captain lashed a fierce shot whose swerve left Siegrist helpless as it flew into the net.
Dundee continued to push for a further goal, but could have been caught out twice by United breaks. Marc McNulty blazed over from 10 yards from a Clark cutback, and then Liam Smith couldn’t quite reach a Niskanen pass at the far post.
The Dark Blues attacks were looking far more dangerous than in the first half. McGinn sent McMullan in on the right, but Siegrist parried the angled shot with the ball falling kindly for the defence rather than the Dark Blues who were racing in to follow up.
Niall McGinn saw a close range shot blocked by lunging defenders and then went agonisingly close to a superb third goal for the Dee. From 25 yards McGinn hit a first time chip that clipped the top of the bar thanks to a fingertip save by Siegrist.
Play was flying from end to end with both teams trying to win a match that was transformed into a thriller from the drab affair of the first half.
As normal time was coming to an end McNulty headed wide for United and Ryan Sweeney headed over at a corner. In the final minute of injury time Dundee broke away down the left and substitute Josh Mulligan shot a foot over the bar from 20 yards.
The Dark Blues conceded two poor goals today, but for most of the game the defence coped well in open play. In midfield, especially in the second half there was dig and creativity, with players regularly being found in space in United’s half, and Benjamin Siegrist forced to earn his wages in United’s goal.
Surviving in the Premiership will be tough, but the players must believe that it is possible after today. The spirit shown by the players and the second half performance gives Dundee real hope as they face the crucial final five games. It might only have been a draw, but this might prove to be a hugely important point.
Dundee United 3-4-3
Edwards, Mulgrew, Graham
Smith, Levitt, McDonald, Niskanen
Watt, Clark, McNulty
Unused subs: Eriksson (gk), Sporle, Neilson, Freeman, Mochrie, McMann, Thomson, Cudjoe-Amin.
Goals: Clark (12), Mulgrew (55).
Booked: Niskanen (foul on Marshall), Watt (afters with Adam), Graham (foul on Mullen).
Dundee FC 4-3-2-1
Kerr, Sweeney, McGhee, Marshall (Elliott 80)
Byrne, Anderson, Adam (c) (Mulligan 72)
McMullan, McGowan (McGinn at half time)
Unused subs: Sharp (gk), McDaid, McCowan, Rudden, Daley-Campbell, Ibsen Rossi.
Goals: Mullen (59), Adam (61).
Booked: Byrne (foul on Watt), Adam (afters with Watt).
Attendance: to be announced.
Referee: Steven McLean. Assistants: David McGeachie, Daniel McFarlane. Fourth Official: David Dickinson.
Report: James Christie.