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Dundee Not Outplayed By Inverness But Performance Shows They're Way Off Elite Clubs


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Source: The Evening Telegraph

Dundee look like they’ve climbed their Mount Everest.

And with every game that passes post-split that fact is becoming ever more apparent.

From day one this season expectations were that a positive campaign would result in the Dark Blues avoiding relegation.

If it developed into an unbelievable one, the top six would be achieved. Well, with less than two weeks of the club’s return campaign to the top flight remaining, Paul Hartley’s men managed to do what seemed unthinkable 12 months ago by nestling themselves amongst the Premiership elite.

Now it’s been one thing muscling in on the big boys but competing is proving to be a whole different kettle of fish.

An early Edward Ofere goal — a powerful header from a Greg Tansey centre — was enough to separate the sides at Dens Park at the weekend, confirming Inverness’ first-ever foray into European football.

That was not the only thing the meeting confirmed though. Saturday’s reverse, the tenth on the bounce against Caley following the 2009 Challenge Cup Final, also underlined, yet again, that although Dundee are up there in name, they’re still a little way off those at the higher reaches of this division in real terms.

Let’s be clear on this one, though — they were far from outclassed by the third-placed outfit.

Big Nigerian Ofere’s winner came after the hosts had actually started the brighter of the two.

The goal didn’t dampen their resolve either — Greg Stewart had a header scrambled off the line soon after. The Dark Blues’ top scorer then saw a firm free-kick palmed away by Ryan Esson. And Jim McAlister should have done better when set free by Luka Tankulic moments into the second 45.

James McPake rose highest late on to see his goal-bound effort remarkably clawed away by the impressive Esson.

On the day it wouldn’t have been undeserved or a surprise to see the Northern Irishman’s header claim a point.

This was Dundee’s best performance for some time, in a lot of ways it was like a return to earlier in the season.

But having played every one of the top-end teams lately, it’s clear Dundee are sitting where they probably belong — sixth out of six.

There’s absolutely no shame in that, though.

But the big test is how the manager lifts his players from here, with two games left to play.

The Dark Blues have lost five games on the bounce now, not picking up a point since the 3-1 defeat of city rivals Dundee United on April 8. Add in the fact that was the club’s only win in nine, stretching back to February, and that they’ve not scored in the last three and you’d be hard pushed to say Dundee are ending the season on fire.

Looking ahead it’s quite often those who end poorly that start the same way the following campaign.

It’s the manager’s job to make sure the club don’t end the season on the slide by losing the next two.

Because although this season can be ranked an unrivalled success as Dundee sit close to a record top-six points haul, if the run of negative results continues over the next couple of weeks it could well have an effect on things moving forward.

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