So much for Dundee’s “pinnacle year”. Managing director John Nelms delivered a state of the nation address in the match programme and gave an update on the new stadium plans. He promised 2020 will see the application being submitted for the long-planned complex near Camperdown Park.
This performance showed why it can’t come soon enough for some. Dundee’s poor home form threatens to derail their promotion hopes. A first-footing Inverness side kicked the hosts where it hurts. They were simply bigger, better and more organised and move six points clear of their play-off rivals in second place. Dundee, meanwhile, slip back to fourth. Neighbours Dundee United are so far in front binoculars are required to see them.
The Dens Park side have now dropped 14 points at home already this season. They have conceded nine times in their last four appearances on their own turf. Even the recent victory over Dunfermline saw them lose three goals.
Inverness produced an away masterclass. First-half goals from Aaron Doran and James Keatings put them firmly in control and sensible game management saw them survive the second half relatively untroubled. No one should bet against John Robertson leading this side back to the Premiership.
After a draw and win in their previous two league meetings, he has done another job on Dundee. A 1-0 Betfred Cup win near the start of the season is the only time the Dens Park side have scored against them. Goalkeeper Mark Ridgers did not have a save to make in the first half yesterday. He was mildly more troubled in the second half, turning two efforts from distance round his post. If Dundee do manage to secure a play-off place, the likelihood is they will have to face Inverness at some point. It’s an unpalatable thought for Dundee fans, who booed their side off at half-time.
Manager James McPake understood. “Anybody who watched that would have been [booing],” he said.
Those who thought the side had turned a corner following a recent unbeaten run of four matches, including the 1-1 draw at Dundee United, were given a rude awakening here. This was as poor as McPake’s side have been all season.
That’s not to take anything away from an excellent Inverness team. They showed why they came into the match ahead of Dundee in second place and bounced back from their home defeat by Arbroath seven days earlier. “We were the polar opposite of that performance today,” said Robertson.
They were better than the hosts in every department and dominated from the start. Right-back Shaun Rooney gave opposite man Jordan Marshall a torrid time. While Rooney had a major part to play in the opening goal after 17 minutes, the move was actually sourced from a superb switch-in-play pass from Kevin McHattie, the visitors’ left centre-back. Rooney’s cut back found Doran in splendid isolation at the back of the box. He slotted home through a crowd of bodies from around 20 yards.
But Dundee were also authors of their own downfall. They were two goals down and really struggling just seven minutes later after conceding from their own corner. Paul McGowan and Graham Dorrans tried to work a short corner but the move broke down and Rooney strolled forward, riding a desperate attempt by Dorrans to stop him. The Dundee midfielder slid in and tried to at least knock the right-back from his stride at the potential cost of a booking. He failed in even this measly ambition. Keatings took over and strode towards goalkeeper Jack Hamilton before finishing well with an angled shot into the corner from near the edge of the box.