Date: 24 March 2012
Venue: Dens Park
Competition: League - SFL1
Dundee served up another disappointing home performance in drawing 1-1 with Raith Rovers at Dens Park today. The Dee failed to build on a bright start, in which Carl Finnigan gave them the lead. The hard-working visitors fought back well, showed more urgency and deserved the point that Damian Casalinuovo's scrappy equaliser brought them.
Before kick-off there was a minute's applause to pay tribute to the late Willie Reilly, whose name appeared on the Dundee players' shirts.
The Dark Blue supporters were cheered by the recovery from injury of Steven Milne and Carl Finnigan, who took their place in the starting line-up, with Bayne and Hyde dropping onto the bench.
The optimism seemed justified when Dundee scored with their first serious attack. Finnigan swept the ball out to McCluskey on the right. He laid it back to Irvine whose quick cross was beautifully flighted for FINNIGAN to glance home a flying header from 12 yards.
Rovers' defence was struggling against the neat interchanges from McCluskey and Irvine on the right. The visitors' midfield wasn't covering Dyer, the exposed left back. Rovers often lost shape when they attacked and left themselves vulnerable to the counter-attack.
Frustratingly Dundee couldn't exploit Rovers' weaknesses again in the first half. Numerous opportunities to open up the defence were wasted when the last pass wasn't quite right or the wrong decision was made. Rovers meanwhile had plenty of the ball but barely threatened the Dundee goal.
A match that still seemed to be going quite well for Dundee suddenly turned around in the space of a couple of minutes just before half time. Carl Finnigan fell awkwardly from an aerial challenge and it was immediately clear he was in trouble. Jake Hyde came on to replace him
Apart from his goal Finnigan had been playing well. If his departure was a blow to Dundee things quickly got worse when they conceded a poorly defended goal.
Baird had too much time to shift the ball out to Thomson in space on the right. The low cross bounced off McGregor, falling kindly for CASALINUOVO at the near post and he squeezed the ball into the net off Douglas. The same player caused a moment of panic in the Dundee defence at the start of the second half when he forced his way round the outside of McGregor. His cutback caused a scramble and the ball came back to him, but he shot a couple of feet wide.
Rovers had tightened up now and ensured that their midfield was covering the defence more effectively. Dundee were no longer able to find space so easily down the wings, and should have been rueing their failure to take advantage of Rovers' lack of organisation in the first half.
Dundee's second half performance was as poor as they've played at Dens this season. The central midfield couldn't dominate their hard working opponents, the passing throughout the team was slow and too often sloppy. McCluskey had drifted out of the game after a bright first half hour, though the service to him had been poor. Barry Smith replaced him with Mark Fotheringham, who never looked comfortable playing wide on the right.
Rovers might not have been playing particularly well, but their commitment and desire for a winner ensured an uncomfortable second half for the frustrated home fans. Fortunately for Dundee, Rovers lacked the quality to create chances and punish the sloppy home side. However, they managed to get the ball into the Dundee penalty area often enough to suggest they might eventually get a break.
Dundee meanwhile offered even less at the other end. Hyde set up Fotheringham to cut inside and shoot, but McGurn turned the ball round the post. That was as near as Dundee came in the whole second half.
Jonathan Stewart, the Hearts player who played for Dundee last season in their long unbeaten run, did manage to force the ball into Douglas's net, but had already been given offside. A well struck 20 yard shot from Murray flew wide near the end. There was little else to talk about. The game was mainly a matter of Dundee giving the ball away when they tried to attack, and Rovers charging forward eagerly, but with little subtlety or effectiveness.
Apart from the soft equaliser the Dundee defence scraped pass marks today. They were let down by some poor passing out of defence, but they were no more guilty than the players in front of them who simply couldn't hold the ball and build sustained passing moves.
In years to come this game will be remembered only for the tribute to Willie Reilly. Nothing else about today's game will linger in the memory much beyond the weekend.
Dundee FC 4-4-2
Irvine, McKeown, McGregor, Lockwood
McCluskey (Fotheringham 56), O'Donnell, McBride, Conroy
Milne (Bayne 77), Finnigan (Hyde 42)
Unused subs; Gibson (gk), Chisholm
Goal; Finnigan (5)
Raith Rovers 4-4-2
Thomson, Ellis (Stewart 76), Hill, Dyer
Allan Walker, Murray, Davidson, Hamill
Baird (Jamie Walker 83), Casalinuovo (Clarke 74)
Unused subs; Laidlaw (gk), Williamson
Goal; Casalinuovo (44)
Referee; Willie Collum
Report; James Christie