Dundee 3
Ross County 2
League (First Division)

3 - 2
Ross County 

League (First Division)
Saturday, April 7th, 2007
Dens Park
Attendance: 3,013
3:00 PM Kick-off

Dyron Daal (20)
Dyron Daal (32)
Paul McHale (54)
Sean Higgins (47)
Michael Gardyne (74)

Team Managers
Alex Rae
Scott Leitch

Starting Eleven
1. Ludovic Roy
2. Jay Shields
3. Danny Griffin
4. Gary Smith
5. Paul Dixon
6. Kevin McDonald
7. Alex Rae
8. Paul McHale
9. Gavin Swankie
10. Dyron Daal
11. Robert Davidson
Matieo Tomei .1
Hugh Robertson .2
Alex Keddie .3
Andy Dowie .4
Mark McCulloch .5
Don Cowie .6
Martin Scott .7
Alan Morgan .8
Dene Shields .9
Derek Adams .10
Sean Higgins .11

12. Derek Lyle
14. Kevin Smith
15. Brian Clark
16. Craig Forsyth
17. Scott Gates
Craig Samson .12
Michael Gardyne .14
Kevin McKinlay .15
Diarmuid O'Carroll .16
Craig Gunn .17

Derek Lyle for Jay Shields (78)
Scott Gates for Robert Davidson (85)
Michael Gardyne for Hugh Robertson (45)
Craig Gunn for Alan Morgan (64)
Diarmuid O'Carroll for Mark McCulloch (83)

Ludovic Roy (90)

Red Cards
None. None.
Match Officials

Alan Freeland (Referee)
Brian Colvin & Jeff Banks (Assistants)

Match Report

Having taken an early 2-0 lead through goals by Dyron Daal, Dundee looked to be comfortable for collecting all three points but a spirited fight back from relegation battlers Ross County gave the visitors a late flurry of chances to share the spoils.

As both teams struggled to establish a foothold in the game, Dundee took the early initiative as Bob Davidson won the ball on the right wing. His cross into the box was cleared by Andrew Dowie before Daal could make contact. Davidson and Daal were again involved minutes later as Davidson tried again to find Daal in space, but as the on-loan Aberdeen striker looked. odds-on to score, keeper Matteo Tomei tipped the ball out of reach.

Dundee built on the early pressure and continued to press the away goal without much reply. Derek Adam's pull on Bab Davidson on the half way line gifted the home side a free kick, but Gavin Swankie's shot from Alex Rae's free kick soared over the bar.

Bob Davidson had the perfect opportunity to give Dundee the lead in the 16th minute after a through-ball by Kevin McDonald. Davidson brought the ball down with his head before storming towards goal, but his shot at the advancing Tomei was dragged wide of the right upright.

Ross County created their first real chance of note in the 17th minute as Don Cowie's ball into the box was first saved by Ludo, with Cowie's follow-up header also saved by the keeper. Moments later, Sean Higgins' shot straight at Ludo was dropped by the keeper, with the ball landing straight at the feet of the striker once more. His lay- off to Derek Adams from six yards should have gifted the home side the opened but Adams' shot drifted over the crossbar.

Dundee deservedly took the lead in the 20th minute through "goal machine" Dyron Daal who notched up his fifth goal in four games. Bob Davidson's ball through a stranded home defence found Daal, who had timed his run to perfection. He coolly rounded keeper Tomei before walking the ball into the back of the empty net for 1-0.

Moments later Daal was again faced with a one on one against keeper Tomei after a lay-off by manager Alex Rae. His shot allowed Daal to run at the Italian keeper but this time Tomei was equal to the effort, EF tipping the ball away for a corner.

Kevin McDonald was re-instated in the first team after a break from the action against Airdrie the week previously. His volley from a Paul McHale pass never troubled keeper Tomei, although the ball looked to be heading for the back of the net until the last second.

As was with the game against strugglers Airdrie last week, Daal had a number of chances to put the game to rest early on. That run continued against Ross County as in the 32nd minute he stretched the Dens men's lead to 2-0. Kevin McDonald's pass through the defence found Daal who looked as though he was only in a position to hold the ball up, but the striker turned the defender before rushing goalwards and slotting the ball into the right hand corner from ten yards while the away defence could only chase shadows.

At times against strugglers Airdrie, the defence looked shaky at times, and it was no different in this game: Sean Higgins shot at goal was blocked by an uncertain looking Ludo, with Danny Griffin blocking Higgins second shot on goal.

It is not often a player is faced with the opportunity to score a hat-trick so early on in a game but Daal could have wrapped it up in the 38th minute after link-up play with Davidson, Davidson's ball across the 18 yard-line fell to Daal; he looked set to take the teams into half time at 3-0 but as his shooting angle was narrowed down, Tomel saved with his legs at the bottom of the upright to keep his team in with a small chance of taking something from the game.

At the start of the second halt, Ross County brought on Michael Gardyne in place of former Dundee midfielder Hugh Robertson. This move seemed to the lift the Highlanders as within minutes of the re- start they pulled a goal back through Sean Higgins. Higgins overhead kick from a ball into the box by Derek Adams soared over the head of a helpless Ludo before landing in the back of the net to make the score 2-1.

Since his January move from fellow first division club Clyde, Paul McHale has looked a credible signing by Alex Rae, and he showed his worth to the club as he scored his first goal since his move to Dark Blue. A throw-in from the right wing from Jay Shields was flicked onto Kevin McDonald. His cross into the box was then. seemingly cleared by the defence, with the ball falling to McHale on the edge of the 18 yard box, and his shot leaving the Italian. keeper in no-man's-land.

Although the game began to look comfortable at 3-1 for Dundee, Daal looked more than eager to win the match ball by completing his brace of goals for a hat-trick. Alex Rae's headed flick-on from a Danny Griffin defensive clearance allowed Daal to bring the ball down in the box, but the big centre-forward dragged his shot past the post.

In the 61st minute, Ludo pulled off undoubtedly the save of the match. Sean Higgins' fearsome shot from the edge of the area was palmed away by the keeper before he quickly gained his composure to one-handedly save a Dene Shields effort from no more than six yards.

Daal spurned his best chance for his hat- trick with twenty minutes to go. He cleverly beat the offside trap to collect a neat pass from Davidson. Faced with yet another one on one situation with keeper Tomei, the latter came off better again as he first blocked Dyron's shot before clearing the ball to safety.

Although Dundee looked relatively comfortable, County still looked dangerous on the break, and their efforts were rewarded in the 74th minute when sub Michael Gardyne got his name on the scoresheet. Martin Scott's cut-back from the by-line found Gardyne in space and from 12 yards there was only ever going to be one winner as the away side cut the Den's men's advantage to 3-2.

As Dundee looked to contain their slender advantage, Derek Lyle was brought on in place of the frustrated-looking Jay Shields. The last ten minutes of the game consisted of both sides struggling to keep the ball clear of the danger zone, while trying to get the final all-important goal.

Don Cowie's corner headed straight for goal-scorer Gardyne but this time luck was not to be on his side as Gary Smith whipped the ball clear.

The only caution of the match came in extra time for home goalkeeper Ludovic Roy as he protested with referee Alan Freeland.

Match report written by Dundee Matchday Programme

Squad Statistics (as at April 7th, 2007)

2006-07 All Time
Ludovic Roy (GK)29 30 - 30 -
Gary Smith36 201201
Paul Dixon20 34 - 732
Kevin McDonald18 312645
Alex Rae37 263263
Jay Shields21 19 - 19 -
Danny Griffin29 25 - 25 -
Paul McHale25 121121
Dyron Daal23 4545
Robert Davidson21 123123
Gavin Swankie23 349379
Scott Gates (sub)18 11 - 19 -
Derek Lyle (sub)26 27132713

League Table (as at April 7th, 2007)

No league table has been added for this season.

Manager's Programme Notes

Last Sunday's win over Airdrie might not have been all that pleasing on the eye, but the bottom line is that we won and I was able to draw positives from the game.

Firstly, we've lost a lot of games like that this season, so it was good to win one.

That's something we have not done often enough this season, so I was very happy with the points. That's 20-odd games out of 32 this season we've gone in behind, and if we could just eradicate that we'd do so much better.

It's good that we have the character to have hit back in a number of these matches, but I'd obviously prefer if we were taking the lead more often.

Another positive was the number of chances we still created because we could have had a right few more.

Having said that, it doesn't change the fact we did not play well and we will be working hard to put that right.

Dyron Daal got both our goals and took his tally to three in as many games and has done very well for us.

In addition to his goal, he has shown he has great technique, and with just a little composure, he could easily have had his first Scottish hat-trick.

Given the way he's played, it's obvious we would like to keep him here and I'll be speaking to Aberdeen. I do know, though, that their plan was simply to let him come here for some first- team games and it could be that they want him back for next season.

Unfortunately, Gary Mackenzie had one of those days. His mistake gifted Airdrie the opener and, with his problems continuing, I was forced into substituting him in the second half.

Although he threw away his captain's armband and kicked a water bottle in disgust, I have no problem with his show of emotion.

When things go wrong, I want to know it hurts players and at least Gary's reaction showed that. I have to say if he plays for another 20 years, he probably won't have another day

like that.

However, he has to learn from it. His problem was that once he made the mistake for their goal he let it affect the rest of his performance and that can't happen.

But we've all had games like that and he'll just have to dust himself down and refocus for the next four games, which I'm sure he'll do.

And it has to be said that big Gary wasn't alone, though, because a few others also struggled.

With next season in mind, my main focus has been on targeting new faces, but I am also very keen to secure the futures of players who have done well for us.

Although most are contracted until the end of next season, I am keen to extend their deals beyond that.

There are players who have done well and I think it is only fair that they are rewarded with the chance of a bit of long- term security.

From my point of view, having them on two-year deals is good. It avoids the kind of situation we were able to take advantage of when we got Paul McHale from Clyde in January, because he was in the last six months of his contract and free to speak to other clubs.

If I can get things done soon it also leaves me to concentrate on adding to what I already have, rather than maybe having to replace good players who have moved on.

More immediately we again host a visit from a side battling to beat the drop. Ross County's win over Partick Thistle on Tuesday evening eased their fears of finishing bottom, but they will come here desperate for the points to try and avoid being involved in the play-offs.

That means we are in for another very hard game, but we now have third place in our sights and that's where I want to be at the end of the season, and taking another three points is essential if we are to achieve that.