Dundee 2
Aberdeen 3
League (Premier League)

2 - 3

League (Premier League)
Saturday, March 9th, 2002
Dens Park
Attendance: 8,250
3:00 PM Kick-off

Juan Sara (pen.) 
Temur Ketsbaia 
Darren Young (54)
Russell Anderson (74)
Darren Mackie (76)

Team Managers
Ivano Bonetti
Ebbe Skovdahl

Starting Eleven
12. Julian Speroni
24. David Mackay
17. Walter Del Rio
30. Massimo Beghetto
2. Barry Smith
32. Kiko Torres
8. Gavin Rae
6. Temur Ketsbaia
18. Javier Artero
7. Fabian Caballero
9. Juan Sara
Peter Kjaer .1
Russell Anderson .2
Phil McGuire .14
Jamie McAllister .6
Kevin McNaughton .17
Darren Young .8
Fergus Tiernan .25
Chris Clark .18
Hicham Zerouali .11
Darren Mackie .22
Robbie Winters .9

1. Jamie Langfield
14. Beto Garrido
21. Alessandro Romano
15. Steven Milne
28. Khaled Kemas
Ryan Esson .23
Ben Thornley .12
Ross O'Donoghue .24
Leon Mike .27
Kevin Rutkiewicz .20

Khaled Kemas for Juan Sara
Alessandro Romano for Javier Artero
Leon Mike for Hicham Zerouali (46)
Ben Thornley for Chris Clark (73)
Ross O'Donoghue for Robbie Winters (89)

None. Jamie McAllister (12)
Hicham Zerouali (33)

Red Cards
Alessandro Romano
Match Officials

Kenny Clark (Referee)
Joe McDowall & Francis Andrews (Assistants)
Callum Murray (Fourth Official)

Match Report

If Dundee fans, players and management have ever seen the film Groundhog Day they'll know exactly how the cast of that movie felt.

The basic plot is that the same scene keeps repeating itself over and over and, even if they haven't seen the movie, they will certainly be in line to audition as extras should Hollywood ever decide to shoot Groundhog Day 2.

For the second week in succession Dundee lost 3-2, for the second week running Temuri Ketsbaia scored a raking 25- yarder, and for the second week in a row the winning goal came from the head of an opponent.

It's also the second week in succession that the Dens players have refused to come out and meet the press to give their version of events.

It's not the first time this season that the Dens Parkers have tossed away a two-goal lead (Dunfermline a few weeks back) and nor is it the first time that they have lost headed goals to lose games they had been in a position to win.

In fact manager Ivano Bonetti reckons that Dundee have lost 35 goals this season to headers from set-pieces and crosses.

Whether Bonetti has actually counted them up or simply plucked a figure from the air will no doubt be revealed in the fullness of time when the statisticians get to work.

"It is unthinkable to lose three goals at Dens Park," complained the Dark Blues boss.

"We are missing something in the air. If we are to prepare for next season we know where the problem lies.

"I was pleased with the performance of the players but obviously we lost another two goals by headers from corners and that's cost us three points. That's something we have to repair because we lost our last chance to reach the top six.

"Other players will now get the chance to show me if they have the character and attitude to play."

One of those who will come back into contention to halt Dundee's slide is giant defender Lee Wilkie, who along with Paraguyan striker Gerardo Traverso was being put through his paces at Dens by assistant boss Dario Bonetti long after the Aberdeen game had finished.

"Lee Wilkie will get an opportunity," said the manager.

"As a player he is very skilful, but in the past his attitude was completely wrong. He now has to show what he can do and if he does it right there will be no problem. He has come back into the squad and we will decide if Wednesday (against Livingston) is the time to give him that opportunity."

Returning to the game, Bonetti said, "I am as disap- pointed as the fans because they would have enjoyed seeing the team play well and scoring goals and we had an opportunity to score the third one, which would have finished the game. Then we go and lose goals like that.

"You shouldn't need to score three goals to win a game. We lost a wonderful chance today."

And yet it all began so well for the Dens Park side. They were in front by two goals at half-time following a penalty by Juan Sara, awarded after Ketsbaia had been brought down by Hicham Zerouall, and a terrific right-foot strike by the Georgian himself which gave Dons keeper Peter Kjaer no chance.

However, the young Dons. side had obviously read the script of Dundee's season so far and fought back with goals from Darren Young, Russell Anderson and Darren Mackie to take the points north and keep up the challenge on Livingston for a European place.

After Javier Artero had missed a superb opportunity to put the game outwith their reach when he shot past when it looked easier to score, the Dons got themselves back into the game when home skipper Barry Smith's attempted clearance was rifled home by Young from 20 yards out.

Dundee manager Bonetti then sent on Alessandro Romano for Artero-not the first time that the Dens boss has opted to send on a defensive player for an attacking one when in a leading position.

How he must have rued that decision when Romano left the field only eight minutes later after being red carded for allegedly spitting at an opponent and with his side now 3-2 behind.

Bonetti stated that Romano would be punished if the spitting allegation proved true.

"If he spat then he will be fined," said Bonetti.

"It's one of the worst things a player can do. If it's true then he will pay. Nobody wants to see that, including myself."

The Dons equalised in the 74th minute when Anderson got his head to a corner kick and they repeated the trick a couple of minutes later when Mackie also got his head to a corner.

Both goals came as a result of Aberdeen's much ridiculed corner kick routine which involves half of the team running around the penalty box in a seemingly random manner. Until Saturday it's difficult to recall them ever scoring from this particular ploy, but thanks to poor defending they now have two strikes to their credit.

The third goal was hotly disputed by the Dens defence but TV evidence indicated that the ball had crossed the line before Romano headed clear. The Italian was booked for his protests and lasted only another 60 seconds before adding a red card to his yellow.

The TV cameras also seemed to show, however, that Aberdeen should have been awarded a penalty just prior to the goal when a Dons player was wrestled to the ground in the box.

However, Pittodrie manager Ebbe Skovdahl wasn't complaining. Even at 2-0 down at half-time, the Dane was happy with his team.

"I was pleased with the whole game," he said.

"I think we battled very hard in the first half. Their two goals were down to one of their individuals (Ketsbaia) who created both, one the penalty and a very good goal after that.

"I'm very proud of my players and what they have done today. We were missing five regulars and that makes it an even bigger thing to be 2-0 down and then be able to turn the whole thing around.

"I told the players at half-time that we had to correct a few things in the second half and I told them they had done very well in the first half.

"It's good that the pressure of reaching the top six is now off us, but of course we have to set ourselves new targets and goals and one will definitely be to surpass Livingston.

"Having nine players in our squad of 16 who can play under-21 is magnificent. Getting into Europe may be one year too early for our young team but if it's a possibility we'll take it."

Match report written by The Courier

Squad Statistics (as at March 9th, 2002)

2001-02 All Time
Julian Speroni (GK)22 13 - 13 -
Walter Del Rio25 34 - 43 -
David Mackay20 131131
Barry Smith28 38 - 2591
Massimo Beghetto33 19 - 19 -
Kiko Torres26 152152
Javier Artero26 20 - 694
Temur Ketsbaia33 224224
Gavin Rae24 34617618
Juan Sara25 28106427
Fabian Caballero24 3365014
Alessandro Romano (sub)32 25 - 44 -
Khaled Kemas (sub) - 101101

League Table (as at March 9th, 2002)

No league table has been added for this season.

Manager's Programme Notes

Although we lost at Kilmarnock last week, it was a good performance from my players. Dundee played well, created chances and played good football for 90 minutes.

Temuri Ketsbaia, in particular, was outstanding. He has done really well here, scoring a goal and creating two or three other chances, but I still believe he can do better.

He inspired the other players until the last few minutes.

Unfortunately the first chance they had in the second half, they scored from.

I was very angry about the second goal because we gave the ball away in the middle of the park.

Our defenders were pushing forward at the time and we were caught out when we gave up possession.

However, I had very little to say to the players afterwards because I enjoyed their football. I know the result is very important but there is little more I can say than that.

Their second goal was a wonderful finish as well. Better than that was impossible to see. Having said that we did make mistakes and this week we have been working on the areas in which we have made individual errors, but I am happy with the commitment of the players. We still have four games, so we have got to do our best to bring 12 points and then see if we arenin the top six or not.

At the same time we are looking further ahead and working towards next season. Apart from the time that I spent in Italy looking at new players, the same thing applied to this week's trip to China.

But no matter what develops from those trips with Giorgi Nemasadze and Zura Zhizhanishvili coming back from injury, it will be like having two new players because they have missed so much of this season. But of course, we still want to end this season as well as possible and not disappoint our fans.

Since I came to the club, as I believe has happened in the past, Aberdeen have caused problems to us when they have played at Dens.

Everyone, however, is looking forward to this afternoon's gam as an opportunity to end the poor run here and with two more home games to come this week, we have a great chance to pick up the points we need to maintain our hopes of finishing in the top six.