Early-season optimism around Dundee has certainly subsided.
Yesterday, in stark contrast to that glorious sunny August day when they danced all over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park and all sorts of possibilities seemed alive, dreich Dens Park was a howling pit of autumnal exasperation as Paul Hartley’s side made heavy weather of it against second-bottom Partick Thistle, who had been battered by Hearts a week previously but looked like holding on to an early lead given to them by academy graduate Liam Lindsay.
The hosts eventually forced a late equaliser, scored by substitute Kane Hemmings, which they just about merited, but, if the moans and groans from the stands are an accurate barometer of the mood, the home support are evidently underwhelmed by a side who have now won only two of their last 11 games in all competitions and remain in the bottom six of the Premiership ahead of a run of games against three of the division’s top four – Hearts, St Johnstone and Aberdeen.
Their main source of solace, aside from the struggles of city rivals United, is that they are not losing games, with this their fourth draw in six matches.
“I felt we deserved the point because our second-half performance was good,” said Hartley. “The players never gave up, and they kept passing it. We just need to get a bit of consistency in terms of winning more games. We’ve had too many draws but we’re not too far away.”
Partick brought in goalkeeping coach Paul Gallacher for his first appearance in eight months as a result of Tomas Cerny’s injury and Ryan Scully’s suspension, and the 36-year-old showed no signs of rustiness as he dealt with everything that came his way. A second-minute save from Rhys Healey set the tone for a strong performance from the veteran and his team duly capitalised by taking the lead in the fifth minute when Lindsay rose at the near post to head in a Stuart Bannigan corner. It was the centre-back’s first goal for the Firhill club.
Gallacher had to make another couple of saves from Rory Loy and Paul McGowan to keep Thistle in front, but the visitors always looked a threat on the counter. One such instance should have brought a second goal six minutes before the break but Kris Doolan was unable to get a clean contact when David Amoo’s cross from the right broke off Thomas Konrad and into his path just a few yards from goal.
Gallacher made another couple of stops to deny McGowan and Stewart after the break, although the visitors were generally containing their hosts fairly comfortably.
Thistle had a couple of chances to seal victory but substitute Gary Fraser saw a powerful strike tipped over by Scott Bain in the 75th minute before Lindsay bulleted a header over from a Fraser free-kick shortly after.
Just as Dundee looked to have run out of ideas, however, they conjured an equaliser with five minutes left when Hemmings latched on to a through ball from McGowan and slotted past Gallacher from 15 yards out. It could have gone either way in a frantic finale, but Alan Archibald, the Partick manager, felt his team should have gone home with a much-needed victory. “I felt we did enough to take the three points,” he said. “They started brightly, but once we got into the game and got the goal, we looked really organised and were a threat on the break.”