Dundee's poor run of form continued as they drew 1-1 against Ross County at Dens Park today. The Dark Blues should have won comfortably, but threw away two points against a side who had to play nearly the whole match with 10 men. Jim McAlister put the Dee ahead early in the second half, only for Craig Curran to equalise on his debut.
Paul Hartley made four changes. Alex Harris started, after joining on loan from Hibs for the rest of the season. Scott Bain and Kevin Thomson returned from injury while Paul McGinn came in after serving a one match suspension. Schenk, Konrad, Harkins and Dyer all moved onto the bench.
Each side had a half chance in the first three minutes. Careless Dundee defending gave Boyce room in the penalty area, but he shot too high. At the other end Paul McGowan found himself in space 20 yards out. He chipped the keeper, but the ball drifted over the bar.
After only six minutes County were reduced to 10 men when Dunfield was dismissed for a high challenge on Paul McGinn. Dundee came close twice before County had a chance to change their formation. Stewart's pass let Harris reach the byline. and McAlister met his cutback with a low shot. Reguero saved with his feet and Clarkson blasted the loose ball across goal and just past the far post. Clarkson then sent Stewart racing into the penalty area, but under pressure from the advancing keeper he hooked his shot over the bar.
The visitors reacted by withdrawing winger Joe Cardle and sending on central defender Scott Boyd, with the experienced Richard Brittain moving forward to midfield. Brittain's free kick from 25 yards forced Bain to make a good low save down by his post.
Dundee continued to dominate and looked dangerous whenever they came forward although County were defending in depth. A fine Thomson pass sent Irvine into the box, but he shot just wide into the side netting. In a rare County attack another spot of carelessness allowed Kiss to fire in a shot that was deflected wide for a corner.
As the pressure mounted on County Clarkson passed up a golden opportunity to get back on the goal trail. He blazed past the post after Stewart had set up what looked like an easy chance. Dundee kept up fierce pressure on the County defence, but couldn't force a breakthrough before the interval.
The visitors made a more adventurous start to the second half. They spent the first few minutes in the Dundee half, without looking remotely dangerous, or even actually reaching the penalty area.
The Dark Blues were soon back on the attack and finally opened up the County defence after 51 minutes. Harris played a good pass out to Irvine, whose cross was swept high into the net from 12 yards by Jim MCALISTER.
Dundee were in full control now and looking likely to add to their lead. Luka Tankulic came on for Clarkson, and was quickly involved. He played a fine pass inside the left back to relase Harris. The cutback caused chaos in the County defence and Tankulic smashed a shot against the outside of the post.
McPake and Reguero needed lengthy treatment after this incident, and play was held up for four minutes while the County keeper had his head bandaged. When play resumed Reguero was quickly under pressure and struggled to deal with a succession of crosses.
Amazingly Dundee managed to concede a dreadful goal when they looked totally dominant. County had offered nothing in attack since the break, but Jackson was able to break down the right after McGowan lost the ball with a poor first touch on the halfway line. Only McGinn was back when Kiss's cross came over. The ball flew over his head and CURRAN volleyed in the equaliser at the back post. Dundee had managed to turn promising pressure into a soft equaliser when there was absolutely no danger.
James McPake seemed to be struggling after he had received treatment, and was replaced by Thomas Konrad when County scored. The rest of the match was agonisingly frustrating for the Dark Blue supporters. Dundee had endless pressure as County pulled everyone back. The Dee still managed to find plenty of space, especially on the right where Reckord's positioning allowed McGinn and Harris far too much room. Nevertheless the final ball into the box was seldom good enough.
Gary Harkins replaced Paul McGowan, but couldn't provide the moment of magic Dundee needed so desperately. Harris drove a low ball across goal with both McAlister and Tankulic lunging but just failing to turn it into the net. Tankulic laid the ball off to give McAlister a great chance from 12 yards, but he couldn't find enough power to beat Reguero. Another low cross by Harris caught out the defence; both Tankulic and Stewart swung at the ball but neither could connect. Stewart then fired a low ball across from the left, but McAlister couldn't quite reach it. Finally, deep into injury time, Stewart blazed over after making space.
The final whistle brought a few boos from the home support, and delighted applause from the away fans after their team had dug out an unlikely point. Dundee's failure to clinch the points today was astonishing. Against 10 men they had non-stop pressure, and enough chances to win several games, but they contrived to throw away two points.
The defence had very little to do, but never looked entirely convincing when County did move forward. Although the Dee midfield were in control, and kept the game flowing towards the County goal, Dundee just couldn't turn all the pressure into a win. Newcomer Alex Harris showed plenty of promise and combined well with Paul McGinn. During a frustrating second half the pair of them always looked as if they might provide a winner for the Dee, but it wasn't to be. This was an ideal opportunity to get back on track after a poor spell and a draw was a very poor and disappointing result in the circumstances.
Dundee FC 4-2-3-1
McGinn, McPake (Konrad 68), Davidson, Irvine
Harris, McGowan (Harkins 78), Stewart
Clarkson (Tankulic 55)
Unused subs: Schenk (gk), MacDonald, Carreiro, Dyer
Goal: McAlister (51)
Booked: McPAke (foul on Boyce), Irvine (foul on Saunders)
Ross County 4-5-1
Brittain, Saunders, Quinn, Reckord
Curran (Jervis 76), Irvine, Kiss, Dunfield, Cardle (Boyd 15)
Boyce (Ross 69)
Unused subs: Brown (gk), Carey, Maatsen, MacLeod
Goal: Curran (64)
Booked: Brittain (foul on McPake), Saunders (foul on Stewart)
Sent off: Dunfield (straight red, foul on McGinn)
Referee: Craig Thomson
Report: James Christie