ALL credit belongs to Dundee for a vivacious display of attacking football, which managed to be both entertaining and effective. They were, though, considerably aided by the guileless, spineless display by Kilmarnock which does not augur well for the Ayrshire club.
Yet manager Paul Hartley was right to highlight the positive contribution made by his charges in an impressive showing. The scoreline, it should be said, flattered Kilmarnock.
“I thought it was a perfect performance by the team,” he said. “We dominated the match from start to finish.
“That’s the best performance since I took charge. We were sound defensively but offensively that’s the best we’ve been.
“Our movement was terrific, we enjoyed being on the ball today and that’s something we’ve worked on since day one. We’re going to be expansive and let the players go and express themselves.
“This is a good start for us so now we’ve just got to keep it going and keep working hard like that every week. We might not always play well but, if we’ve got that work ethic through the front three, then it sets the tone for the rest of the team.”
It took just 13 minutes of this first Premiership fixture of the season for Kilmarnock fans to begin berating their manager.
The game was still goalless at that stage and the abuse heaped upon Gary Locke increased as the match (one could hardly describe it as a contest) progressed. The catcalls were more muted by the time his side conceded the fourth goal, although that may have been because much of the home support had left before then.
Dundee easily enjoyed the best of the early exchanges, if only because the hosts took no part in them.
By contrast, Greg Stewart had two more than decent opportunities inside the opening ten minutes but Jamie MacDonald was equal to his efforts on both occasions.
It is difficult to describe how dreadful Killie were during a first half-hour in which their opponents created six chances to their none.
MacDonald saved again from Stewart and then kept his side in it with fine stops to deny Kane Hemmings and Gary Harkins.
Hemmings also contrived to miss an absolute sitter, mishitting his shot wide from eight yards after Rory Loy’s low cross had found him unmarked.
A goal was inevitable, however, and, when it arrived, it was a screamer. Once again, though, the home defending was poor. Stewart was allowed to cut inside from the right flank while the Kilmarnock rearguard backed off. Then, once he had found his range, he curled a left-foot drive high behind the goalkeeper from 20 yards.
Lessons had clearly not been learned by the home side and Loy added a second on the stroke of half-time with a deft finish from Kevin Holt’s low cross.
After failing to change anything during that fraught 45 minutes, Locke then went to the other extreme, making a triple substitution at the break.
Unfortunately for him, the three new men had not adjusted to the tempo of the game before Loy added a third goal, heading home from a yard out from an audacious chip by Harkins.
Dundee contented themselves by spraying the ball around and repelling Kilmarnock’s witless attacks but they still managed to add another, Stewart adjusting his feet to fire into the postage-stamp corner after more dozy defending had allowed Loy to set him up.
“We can only apologise to the fans for that,” said Locke at full-time. “It’s only one game but it was a disaster for us. There are no excuses: we were poor.
“There were a few harsh words afterwards but, at the end of the day, the players are already well aware of how badly we played so we’ve just got to make sure we respond.”
Kilmarnock: MacDonald; Westlake, Connolly, Findlay, Smith; Johnston (McKenzie 46), Hamill (O’Hara 46), Robinson, Higginbotham; Magennis (Carrick 46), Boyd. Subs not used: Samson, McCulloch, Ashcroft, Kiltie.
Dundee: Bain; McGinn, Konrad, Extabeguren, Holt; Ross, Thomson (McGowan 64), Harkins, Stewart; Loy, Hemmings. Subs not used: Mitchell, Irvine, Ferry, Meggatt, Roberts, Kerr.
Referee: B Madden. Attendance: 5,207.