Motherwell 0 - 0 Dundee: Visitors are denied

Motherwell defender Stephen McManus rises above Dundee's Mark O'Hara
Motherwell defender Stephen McManus rises above Dundee's Mark O'Hara
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Motherwell midfielder Chris Cadden, one of the few performers to enhance his reputation in this dismal draw, should learn today that he will be drafted into the Scotland under-21 squad for next week’s matches against Macedonia and Ukraine.

Prior to this contest, his club manager, Mark McGhee (who is also Gordon Strachan’s No.2 with the national team) had expressed his disbelief that the 19-year-old had been snubbed by under-21 manager Ricky Sbragia when he selected his original group.

His outburst highlighted the lack of joined-up thinking at Hampden and McGhee was still in the dark after yesterday’s game.

“I heard that as well but I haven’t heard any official approach or information to say that is the case,” he said. “At the moment, it’s still just a rumour. Whether there’s any foundation to it I just don’t know.”

Cadden at least had the good grace to appear slightly embarrassed to be at the centre of this storm in a tea cup.

“To be honest, it was a surprise when the whole thing blew up last week,” he admitted. Twitter went mental and I don’t think I’ve had so many notifications.

“Even Kevin Holt from Dundee mentioned it during today’s game, asking me why I hadn’t been called up.”

That mistake should be rectified today and Cadden, who won the sponsors’ man of the match award here, will forget this game as quickly as the rest of us.

It had lasted 21 minutes (but felt older still) before a noteworthy attempt at goal could be recorded. Dundee had not been seen as an attacking force up until that point but Faissal El Bakhtaoui came close twice in the space of ten seconds.

Goalkeeper Craig Samson denied him when he beat out the striker’s low drive and then Ben Heneghan slid in to block the Moroccan’s effort from the rebound.

For the most part, though, it was the home side doing the pressing. They appeared physically stronger and Mark O’Hara and Paul McGowan were cautioned as Dundee’s attempts to keep them at bay became increasingly desperate.

Scott McDonald finally forced a decent save from Scott Bain 12 minutes after the restart, with the latter throwing himself to his right to punch away the Australian’s drive.

In fairness, Dundee were more effective in the second half and El Bakhtaoui swivelled to fire in a shot which Samson parried at his near post but this was thin gruel indeed.

James McFadden came off the bench in the 79th minute for his first appearance since breaking his ankle six months ago – and his first as the Lanarkshire club’s assistant manager – but he couldn’t sprinkle any magic dust on this affair.

McGhee, though, was content with the point. “We had plenty of opportunities to create chances but we didn’t really carve out any clear cut openings,” he said.

“I can’t sit here and say that we missed a series of sitters. They had 25-30 minutes in the second half when they dominated possession and could have won it but, over the piece, I think 0-0 was about right.

“Personally, I’m not dissatisfied. It was important not to lose going into the international break and it was important not to lose again at home.”

Dundee manager Paul Hartley, though, believed that a point was insufficient reward for what his players had put into this contest.

“I thought we did enough to win the game, especially with our second-half performance,” he insisted.

“We were on the front foot and had some really good situations where we should have done better. Faissal and Mark O’Hara were a threat and I was really pleased with that.”