It is after all a time of sharing. Neither side of the street will be too unhappy with this outcome in the latest Dundee derby but it does stem the home side’s run of victories.
United could not make it ten in a row after Nicky Clark’s early opener but the 17-point-gap they retain over their rivals will help ease any anguish.
As for Dundee, this was a balm following two painful derby experiences already this season. Graham Dorrans’ equaliser early in the second half set up the potential for a grandstand finish. While both sides had chances, with Dundee having upped the ante considerably, both sets of players seemed to accept the point having given everything.
For all his goalscoring attributes, it’s not necessarily Lawrence Shankland who has done most damage for Dundee United against Dundee this season.
Here once more, while Dundee defenders were perhaps fretting about Shankland’s whereabouts, Clark, pictured below, stole in to put the hosts ahead after just five minutes. It was exactly the sort of start Dundee had hoped to avoid in what was, initially at least, a bear pit of an atmosphere.
Banners were displayed in all three home stands, with one claiming “the city is ours”. Momentum is certainly with United and they have stretched their lead at the top to 14 points over second-placed Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
Dundee will be realistic. The title is gone. But they will need to put together a run of results to claim second place and this was their third outing without defeat.
United did what they had to do. They drew the emotion out of the occasion. For spells later in the game the atmosphere seemed almost subdued. United supporters perhaps felt they had feasted well already – a common sensation at this time of year.
Dundee’s lax defending in this season of goodwill certainly helped United score a ninth goal against their rivals in this campaign to date. Louis Appere played in left-back Jamie Robson, who was left in acres of space after Cammy Kerr allowed himself to be drawn out of position. Robson had time to pick out a cross with sufficient pace that meant Clark was only required to get a foot to the ball in order to divert it high past Jack Hamilton. Dundee skipper Josh Meekings had taken a leaf out of manager James McPake’s book of defending and sought to deal with the danger of the low ball by going for it headfirst.
United failed to build on the lead, which proved to their cost later. A Shankland shot on the turn went straight at Hamilton and another, from Ian Harkes, was saved by the keeper’s legs. Dundee had their own chances.
The chaos of a derby is not often a place for a 17-year-old to thrive but Finlay Robertson found both time and composure to pick out a perfect lofted pass to Paul McGowan, who controlled the ball with his right foot but could not stop United keeper Benjamin Siegrist smothering his left-footed effort on goal.
Five minutes into the second half Dundee equalised following a slow burning move down the right. Kane Hemmings eventually got the chance to cross and Liam Smith’s clearing header landed at the feet of Dorrans. A peripheral figure up to that point, the talented midfielder shifted feet and shot into the bottom corner with his left foot from 16 yards.
Dundee now sensed the chance to put one over their rivals and just as importantly secure a third successive victory. They should have edged in front when Sean Mackie lobbed a clever pass into the box but Danny Johnson completely missed his kick. The home fans, meanwhile, thought their side had retaken the lead but Shankland’s header had in fact found the side-netting.