Five-goal thrillers aren’t the norm in so-called meaningless encounters but it came as a pleasant surprise yesterday as Dundee and Kilmarnock served up the kind of fare which went some way to banishing the end end-of-season blues in the penultimate fixture of the campaign.
Dundee - Conroy 19, Stewart 83; Kilmarnock - McKenzie 4, Johnston 58, Clingan 73
For the hosts, their fate had been sealed the previous week when their 1-1 draw with Aberdeen saw them lose their fight to stay in the SPL, while Kilmarnock were on the face of things just ticking down until the summer recess.
Despite those factors both showed professional pride and a will-to-win which was suitably refreshing and add to that no little skill there was more than enough entertainment to lap up in the Tayside sun.
This time there was no cause for complaint for Dundee who came off second best to some glorious goals Rory McKenzie, Chris Johnston and Sammy Clingan, unlike last Sunday’s farce.
McKenzie put Kilmarnock ahead in style in just four minutes, setting off on a lung-bursting run which saw him stride from just inside the Dundee half, skipping past five Dundee players, before steadying himself and slotting a low left-foot shot across Steve Simonsen and into the corner of the net.
It was sublime stuff from the 19-year-old, although Dundee levelled in 17 minutes.
John Baird released Gary Irvine down the right and he wasted no time in crossing for Ryan Conroy, who ghosted in at the far post to tap home from two yards out.
Accompanied by legendary
Dundee keeper Pat Linney, Rab Douglas waved an emotional farewell as he walked round the Dens Park pitch at half-time, as he prepares to move on to pastures new. Douglas hasn’t featured for the Dark Blues since a high-profile fall-out with manager John Brown back in March but was given a standing ovation for his part in making over 300 appearances for the Taysiders.
Johnston put the Ayrshire visitors back in front in 58 minutes, as his low right-foot shot nestled into the bottom corner via the post.
Shiels, unable to resist the temptation, turned to mock the home fans who felt he’d been guilty of going down all too easily.
“Chris is not a diver and I was angry with the home crowd for thinking he was,” said Shiels.
“Scottish Football needs players like him and referees need to understand him and give him protection.”
Clingan’s 22-yard side-footer made it 1-3 in 72 minutes after a lay-off from Rubiu Ibrahim before Dundee substitute Mark Stewart pulled one back in 82 minutes by lobbing visiting keeper Cammy Bell from fellow substitute Carl Finnigan’s pass.
Dundee assistant manager, Ray Farningham, spoke instead of boss Brown whose controversial comments after the Aberdeen game landed him in hot water with the SFA beaks. “It would have been nice to have given our fans a win in the last home match of the season but it wasn’t to be.”
Dundee: Simonsen, Irvine, Benedictus, Gallagher, Toshney, McAlister, Davidson, McBride, Conroy, Harkins, John Baird. Subs: Alex Baird, Finnigan, Kerr, Nish, Barrowman, Stewart, Thomson.
Kilmarnock: Bell, Tesselaar, Barbour, Sissoko, O’Hara, Clingan, Winchester, Johnston, McKenzie, Boyd, Davidson. Subs: Jaakkola, Fowler, Sheridan, Heffernan, Perez, Ibrahim, Ashcroft.