Dundee’ stand-in captain Jordan McGhee hobbled up the stairs to meet the press in an empty Eddie Thompson Stand clearly hurting physically from 90 minutes of blood and thunder against Dundee United, but etched on his face was also the soreness of losing and the slight predicament Dundee find themselves in.
Granted, it is only late September and, granted, they only prop up the cinch Premiership on goal difference after six matches, but having been promoted last season via the play-offs, Dundee’s aspirations are not to be fighting relegation. Dundee owners Tim Keyes and John Nelms want the club stationed further up the division, and having drawn a blank in their past three matches, Dundee need to start finding the back of the net to assuage any doubts creeping in about their top-flight credentials.
"Just gutted, we're very emotional in the dressing-room,” said a crestfallen McGhee. “I thought we played well in spells of the game. We had a few chances, one cleared off the line. We've been playing pretty well but just not turning them into points on the board. We need to keep working hard and make our own fortune.”
Dundee do create chances. Even shorn of their main creative fulcrum in midfield tyro Charlie Adam, they are getting into good areas, mainly via the lively Paul McMullan on the wing. Leigh Griffiths, on loan from Celtic, clearly isn’t match sharp and tires quickly, while Cillian Sheridan needs more minutes before we see the best of him. Alex Jakubiak’s pace will get him into scoring positions, while Jason Cummings has dropped – perhaps a little unfairly – to the subs bench in the past two matches. In need of a bit of composure, manager James McPake must be wondering if Cummings deserves a chance from the start this week – with or without Griffiths – when they face St Johnstone at home in the Premier Sports Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday before Rangers come to town on league duty on Saturday.
McGhee knows Dundee can’t let the goal drought continue for too much longer. "We take it as a team,” continued the former Hearts youngster. “We didn't take our chances and we didn't keep the ball out of the net but that's everyone. When a goal goes in, we don't all look at defence, we look all over the park. I'm sure we'll all do that. We've got Griff, Cummings, big Sheridan up front and Jak chips in with goals all over the park. We just need to find it sooner rather than later.”
The visit of holders St Johnstone to Dens Park allows Dundee an instant shot at getting off the canvas. The Saints also defeated the Dees 1-0 last season in the Scottish Cup, with revenge on the minds of the hosts.
McGhee added: “We're a different team from last season and I think we are a better team since that game, so we've overcame the Raith games and the Kilmarnock games, so we are stronger as a team. I back every one of the boys to bounce back. It's down to us.”