Only the Premiership’s bottom club, Partick Thistle, have earned fewer points on the road than Dundee but they must have headed back to Tayside wondering how they failed to win this contest after dominating for long spells and striking the woodwork three times.
Manager Neil McCann displayed great fortitude by being in his usual place on the touchline for his players, even though his father had passed away yesterday morning. He made no mention of his loss afterwards, preferring to allow his players to be the centre of attention.
“I just love watching my team play now,” he claimed. “We’ve worked hard since the summer to make them good on the eye, with a nice style of football.
“I’m not ignorant, though; with that, you also need to get results. I’m not shying away from the fact we are still in the wrong half of the table. I’m a wee bit disappointed for the players as we put so much in to the game and there’s no doubt we were the better side.”
Few present would dispute that, although give Motherwell credit for their obduracy, having played most of the second half a man down.
Dundee came close to drawing first blood in the ninth minute when Sofien Moussa’s header from Jon Aurtenetxe’s outswinging corner beat Trevor Carson but came back off the crossbar, whence the goalkeeper managed to scramble the ball behind for a corner.
With the hosts struggling to find any rhythm, the visitors squandered another opportunity when Josh Meekings headed over from point-blank range.
Even when Richard Tait carved out an opening with a cutback for Gael Bigirimana, the midfielder turned into traffic when a first-time shot might have produced dividends.
Dundee looked the more purposeful side, though, and they took the lead with a superb goal immediately after the restart. Faissal El Bakhtaoui supplied Paul McGowan 25 yards out and the midfielder took a touch before drilling the ball into Carson’s top right-hand corner.
Brimful with confidence, McGowan beat Carson again with a chip from the edge of the 18-yard box shortly afterwards but Dundee were again denied by the crossbar.
Motherwell substitute Andy Rose was cautioned for simulation as he tried to con referee Don Robertson into awarding a penalty but they received one soon enough for Mark O’Hara’s ill-judged challenge on Cedric Kipre. Craig Tanner sent Elliot Parish the wrong way from the spot.
Home manager Stephen Robinson had made two tactical substitutions after falling behind and was forced to make another when Chris Cadden picked up a knock. The Steelmen were further hampered when one of those substitutes, winger Elliott Frear, was also injured, leaving them with ten men for the final quarter of an hour.
“First and foremost, the character was fantastic,” said Robinson.
The woodwork saved the home side again in the 81st minute when Josh Meekings’ header from Scott Allan’s free-kick beat Carson but rebounded to safety off the far post.
McGowan, the outstanding performer on view, came close to snatching all three points in the final minute but his improvised volley from Aurtenetxe’s cross was inches wide and Carson produced a stunning reflex save to keep out another Meekings header in stoppage time.
Dundee host Celtic on Boxing Day while Motherwell, one win in ten games, face Rangers at Ibrox on Wednesday.