Dundee crashed out of the Scottish Cup in dismal fashion today at Dens Park, losing 1-0 to Raith Rovers. An absurd Gary Irvine own goal gifted Rovers an early lead and the Dark Blues lacked the composure to dig themselves out of that hole in a display riddled with errors.
The same 11 players who won so convincingly at Hamilton last week started today, but sadly they served up a repeat of the stuttering and nervous performance against Falkirk in the last home game.
In that last game at Dens a mix up between Irvine and Letheren nearly cost Dundee a comical own goal. Today there was no escape. Thomson's charge forward from full back was ended by what looked like a foul by Gallagher. Referee Mr McLean allowed play to continue. That did the Dee no favours as Irvine turned the ball back towards Letheren who couldn't reach it, and the ball trickled embarrassingly into the net.
Rovers eagerness gave them the edge in the early stages, and Anderson's knock down nearly gave Smith the chance to nip in on goal, but Letheren pounced on the ball.
MacDonald and Wighton looked capable of getting through the Rovers' defence, but they didn't see enough of the ball on the ground. Far too often they had to challenge for optimistic long balls that played to the strengths of the Rovers' centre backs.
A Conroy free kick drifted all the way through for a goal kick with both Gallagher and Davidson unable to turn the ball in.
Wighton came close to grabbing an equaliser with a neat turn and shot. Laidlaw managed to touch the ball round the post, but the referee failed to give him the credit he deserved and awarded a goal kick.
Peter MacDonald was involved in all of the few good moves that Dundee did manage to put together and had three good attempts at goal in the first half. He volleyed over from Rae's knock down, and hit two good shots from 20 yards that brought good saves from Laidlaw.
Craig Wighton was withdrawn at half time and Martin Boyle came on. Dundee's game made it difficult for the youngster to get involved. When they tried to play through the middle they gave the ball away too often, and challenging for high long balls is not Wighton's strength.
Boyle was quickly involved with an aggressive run down the left but Laidlaw dealt with comfortably with his angled shot. Dundee put the Raith defence under heavy pressure in the early stages of the second half, but there was an air of desperation about the Dark Blues' game; none of the attacks brought a clean shot on goal as the ball flashed around the penalty area.
Eventually MacDonald did manage to get a shot in, again from distance, but Laidlaw tipped over superbly. Again the referee denied him the credit he deserved by giving a goal kick.
At the other end a poor headed clearance by Gallagher fell to Smith who lashed the ball over the bar from 15 yards.
Craig Beattie came on for Conroy with half an hour to go. Boyle moved to the right wing and Riley to the left. The change made little difference. Dundee were still going long and the wide players never received the ball in a position that allowed them to hurt the defence.
Martin Boyle's best moment came with a blistering run from the half way line that took him through the defence, but his shot from 12 yards was weak and easily saved by Laidlaw.
The longer the game went on the scrappier it became, which suited Raith well. They were happy to pick up easy possession from Dundee's mistakes, and always looked capable of grabbing a second on the break.
The visitors looked more dangerous in the later stages as gaps opened up in the home defence. Cardle's chip seemed to be drifting under the bar, but Letheren made a fine save to touch the ball onto the bar and over. Elliot was then given far too much time to take Cardle's pass and run on to smash the ball againt the post.
John Brown's final throw of the dice was to take off Lockwood and send on Carlo Monti after 82 minutes. It made no difference. There was no composure on the ball, no good passing moves, and no effective width. The only hope was that Rovers might slip up when another hopeful long ball came down the pitch. That never looked likely.
Deep into injury time Gallagher headed on an Irvine long throw and Beattie shot wide. That was little more than a half chance, but it was the best Dundee could manage in that terribly disappointing last half hour. Raith would have been expecting a dangerous charge from the Dark Blues in the later stages, but the sad truth is that Dundee did far too little to worry them.
Whether the long balls were deliberate, or a response to the inability of the midfield to hold the ball and threaten the Rovers' defence, the result was hard to watch. The strikers were isolated, the wide players ineffective and the Dark Blues punchless.
Just like in the Falkirk game Dundee conceded a bizarre goal. However, again it was no more than the visitors deserved. Dundee did nothing today to deserve any luck and went out of the cup in very disappointing style.
Dundee FC 4-4-2
Irvine, Gallagher, Davidson, Lockwood (Monti 82)
Riley, McAlister, Rae, Conroy (Beattie 61)
MacDonald, Wighton (Boyle 45)
Unused subs; Twardzik, McBride, Doris, Thomson,
Booked; Davidson (foul on Anderson)
Raith Rovers 4-4-2
Thomson, Hill, Ellis, Booth
Anderson (McCann 88), Moon, Callachan, Cardle
Smith (Spence 68), Elliot
Unused subs; Stewart (gk), Vaughan, Matthews, Bates
Goals; Irvine o.g. (7)
Booked; Hill (foul on Wighton), Booth (foul on Boyle), Laidlaw (time-wasting)
Referee; Steven McLean
Report; James Christie