A Dundee side looking sadly short of confidence went down to another home defeat against Ross County today.
After taking the lead through a Matt Lockwood penalty Dundee lost out to goals from ex-Dee Colin McMenamin, who had an excellent game, and Rocco Quinn.
Graham Bayne and Ryan Conroy came into the starting line up in place of Ross Chisholm, who dropped to the bench, and the injured Jamie McCluskey. New old boy Gavin Rae also had to make do with a place on the bench after signing yesterday.
The game took a while to generate any excitement with not a sniff of a chance for either side in the first 10 minutes. Dundee were passing the ball around neatly and had some promising moves, but it was County who created the first chance when McMenamin screwed his shot across goal and wide from a difficult angle.
Dundee gradually built up the pressure with Nicky Riley prominent. It was the winger who created the first goal with fine play on the right after 24 minutes. He raced away from Vigurs put the ball outside Fitzpatrick and ran the other way round him into the penalty area, only to have his heels clipped as he collected the ball.
Referee Finnie pointed straight to the spot and Matt LOCKWOOD calmly converted the penalty.
Dundee looked comfortable on the ball and continued to threaten the County defence. However, the Dee never looked convincing defending set-pieces and County could have equalised when Grant Munro managed to send a free header glancing off the top of the bar from a corner.
The game turned on its head eight minutes from half time. O'Donnell linked neatly with Milne and his deflected cut back was cleared desperately off the line by Fitzpatrick with the County defence in disarray and a second Dundee goal looking certain.
The visitors took full advantage of their escape by going straight to the other end and equalising.
Rocco Quinn skillfully dragged the ball away from Kyle Benedictus on the left and drove the ball into the goalmouth where Colin MCMENAMIN stabbed the ball off Douglas and into the net.
Once again Dundee reacted badly to conceding a goal and they never managed to regain the fluency and control they'd shown for the first half hour.
For much of the second half their play was plagued by nerves and indecision. Although they continued to build some neat moves they struggled to get the sort of balls into the box that gave the strikers chances or even worried the County defence.
Too often the response was to hit optimistic long balls that were easily dealt with by County's central defenders.
County were happy to try and hit Dundee on the break, hitting balls into space for McMenamin and Morrow to chase and harry the home defenders.
McMenamin nearly grabbed a second when he broke down the left and forced a fine diving save from Douglas.
It was McMenamin again who set up the winner just after the hour, holding the ball up well and finding Lawson who set up QUINN to drive a low shot just inside Douglas's right hand post from the edge of the penalty area.
Steven Milne might have saved the game for Dundee, but couldn't convert the two chances that came his way.
Substitute McIntosh charged down a clearance and the ball broke to Milne in the clear, but he poked the ball wide from 12 yards.
A frantic spell of pressure saw the ball pinging around the County box. McIntosh nodded the ball down to give Milne a clear chance from 8 yards, but he volleyed just over the bar.
County looked at their most comfortable and confident once they had taken the lead, and apart from Milne's two chances their defence had little trouble in the last 20 minutes.
Just before Quinn scored Gavin Rae came on to a great welcome from the fans, amnd partnered Stephen O'Donnell in central midfield. Unfortunately he couldn't turn the game round, and clearly needs to get to know his team mates and build an understanding with them.
Rae did have a couple of long range shots, and was closely involved in the pressure that led to Milne volleying over, having a fierce shot charged down, and he also slipped a clever pass through to McIntosh.
This is a very strange season in the First Division, with no outstanding teams and no-one out of their depth. There is very little to choose between most of the teams and the margin between victory and defeat is very narrow.
It's worrying, however, that Dundee are repeatedly coming out on just the wrong side of that margin. I don't accept the argument that the players aren't good enough. I'm sure that they are, but there seems to be a mental problem at the moment.
Whenever the opposition score Dundee's performance takes a dip. The players continue to work hard, but they start to make bad decisions and the other side takes heart. It's as if they can sense the confidence seeping away from the Dundee players.
It's clear the players are performing a long way short of their potential. They will need to snap out of this embarrassingly long poor spell quickly or it will be a long and dreary season.
Dundee FC 4-4-2
Benedictus (Rae 57), McKeown, McGregor, Lockwood
Riley, Irvine, O'Donnell, Conroy
Milne, Bayne (McIntosh 65)
Unused subs; Gibson (gk), Chisholm, Weston
Goal; Lockwood 24 (pen)
Booked; Bayne (disagreement with Brittain)
Ross County FC
Miller, Boyd, Munro, Fitzpatrick
Brittain, Lawson (Corcoran 61), Quinn, Vigurs
Morrow (Gardyne 77), McMenamin
Unused subs; Malin (gk), Byrne, Flynn
Goals; McMenamin 38, Quinn 62
Booked; Fitzpatrick (foul on Riley), Lawson (foul on Riley), Brittain (disagreement with Bayne), Gardyne (dissent)
Referee; Stephen Finnie
Report; James Christie