Dundee's fine recent run came to a disappointing end with a 1-0 defeat at home to Morton today. Morton also won 1-0 at Dens Park in August, and in many ways today's defeat was reminiscent of the Dee's early season poor spell.
Dundee were a long way short of the dominant form they've shown over the last couple of months. However, they still played some good football today, but the ball just wouldn't fall for them in penalty area scrambles and they lacked the composure that would surely have created match winning chances.
The best chance of all was a penalty at the start of the second half, but Dominic Cervi's marvellous save rescued Morton.
Nicky Riley returned from suspension and Ross Chisholm stepped in as a straight replacement for the suspended Stephen O'Donnell.
Morton were set up to play an adventurous formation with a four man midfield diamond; ex-Dee David O'Brien sitting behind the strikers and trying the exploit the space between the Dee midfield and defence.
Morton's approach meant it was an open game, with both teams able to find plenty of space. The goalkeepers were soon in action. Douglas had to save from Jackson's angled shot and then Cervi had to back-pedal smartly to keep out Hyde's clever 25 yard lob.
Morton took the lead after 20 minutes with a fast goal on the break. Tidser tackled Riley deep in the Morton half and sent Campbell away down the left. He swept his cross low across the penalty area and the onrushing JACKSON just managed to beat Douglas to the ball and nudge it over the line.
Dundee responded well and had the better of the remainder of the first half, but an endless succession of crosses failed to create a clear chance.
The second half started with Dundee storming down the slope and putting fierce pressure on the Morton defence. After 49 minutes Dundee were given the best possible chance to equalise.
Gary Irvine moved forward, played a clever exchange with Gavin Rae and was chopped down by O'Ware, almost on the penalty spot, before he could shoot. The Morton defender was fortunate to escape a red card, and Morton's escape was complete when Cervi guessed right and brilliantly tipped Matt Lockwood's effort round the post.
Dundee kept their heads and kept up the pressure on Morton. Jake Hyde was having a fine game, taking the ball well and linking with the supporting players. He had a great turn and sent a fierce 25 yard shot fizzing wide as the Dee kept pressing.
Callum Elliot fired another shot wide from 28 yards, but Dundee eventually started to lose their composure the longer the game went without an equaliser.
The Morton formation meant that their midfield was dangerous on the break, but it failed to provide enough cover to their defence. The ball constantly seemed to be bouncing around the away penalty area, without a Dundee players being able to get a shot away. Eventually it would be hacked clear, and usually it would be quickly returned.
Morton have two excellent midfielders in Bachirou and Tidser, and there was always the chance that they would break and grab a decisive killer goal. They couldn't do it, and Rab Douglas's second half was largely a matter of dealing with back passes.
The swirling wind was a constant menace to good football, and some rather fussy refereeing and some poor use of the advantage rule frustrated both teams.
Dundee never gave up, and an equaliser looked possible right to the end. Chisholm's fierce low 25 yarder was spilled by Cervi, but the ball fell for a defender. The Dee's last half chance fell to Hyde, whose header was comfortably saved by Cervi.
It's frustrating that Dundee lost, and failed to score, in such an open game when they should have been able to create and put away enough chances to win. Morton deserve credit for their willingness and ability to play football in midfield. In Michael Tidser they have a player who is sure to play at a higher level.
Sadly, today the conclusion has to be that Dundee weren't quite good enough to claim the points the large Dee support were desperate for. A spot of luck, or a bit more composure and the game could have been very different, but the Dark Blues have no-one to blame but themselves that it didn't go their way.
Dundee FC 4-4-2
Irvine, McGregor, Weston (McKeown 83), Lockwood
Riley, Chisholm (Bayne 86), Rae, Conroy
Hyde, Milne (Elliot 59)
Unused subs; Gibson (gk), McCluskey
Bookings; Chisholm (foul on Bachirou), Weston (foul on Weatherson?), Riley (dissent), Elliot (foul on Smyth)
Greenock Morton 4-4-2
Evans, Smyth, Graham, O'Ware
McGeouch, Bachirou, Tidser (Young 88),
Jackson (MacDonald 69), Campbell (Weatherson 59)
Unused subs; Stewart (gk), Di Giacomo
Goals; Jackson (20)
Booking; MacDonald (foul on Weston)
Referee; John Beaton
Report; James Christie