At the end of a week when artificial surfaces were blamed for season- ending injuries and even cancer, it is with great relief to report that nobody died at Rugby Park yesterday.
Indeed, on the 4G plastic pitch we got a more than half-decent game, despite the lack of goals. Just a week into the manager’s job at Kilmarnock, Lee Clark has brought organisation and some much-needed belief to his team.
“There were a lot of positives and had we came in at half-time ahead, it would have been deserved,” said the former Newcastle United man.
“The application, attitude and quality of football was good. We created chances, but the frustration was that we put Kris Boyd on near the end, one of the most prolific goalscorers in Scottish football, and we stopped putting in crosses into the penalty area.
“I put him on because we were getting the ball into the box and I knew if he was in there then, if one of those chances fell to him, he would score. But that’s a technical thing I can work on with them.”
The game was barely a few minutes old when Josh Magennis got behind the Dundee defence and from a tight angle squeezed a shot beneath goalkeeper Scott Bain, only to be denied by Kevin Holt who cleared off his own line in the very nick of time. The Northern Irishman was at it again on six minutes with a shot that he couldn’t quite keep down.
Then on 23 minutes, Killie came close to a bizarre opener. From the left side, Craig Slater, from a free-kick, sent in a cross, which was missed by everyone, the ball took a slight deflection and goalkeeper Bain ended up making a superb save – switching direction at the last second – from a 40-yard cross.
And from a corner, Magennis had a header cleared off the line on 26 minutes by Nick Ross
For all Kilmarnock’s good play, Dundee should have taken the lead on the half hour. Greg Stewart was allowed to run half the length of the pitch, he then picked out Rory Loy 10 yards from goal but his shot went over via the back of Kilmarnock’s Lee Hodson.
Killie then threatened on 37 minutes when Rory McKenzie’s cross picked out Magennis, he got the slightest touch with his head, the ball fell to Tobe Obadeyi at the back post and he managed to find the side-net from a few yards out.
Dundee began the second half well. A brilliant tackle by Hodson denied Loy a certain goal five minutes after the restart, and then Jamie McDonald in the hosts’ goal pulled off a terrific save on 55 minutes, to keep out Paul McGowan’s net-bound effort.
And after lot of Killie possession, which included some good moves that were let down by the final ball, Dundee were denied what would have been a winner with 17 minutes left. Kane Hemmings cut in on his right foot on the edge of the box, aimed the ball into the top corner, and MacDonald produced a stunning save.
Then right at the end, Dundee’s Loy put a header wide from close range. Kilmarnock were better overall and yet the best chances fell to the men from Tayside.
Dundee boss Paul Hartley said: “It is another point on the road which takes us closer to where we want to be. It is a clean sheet as well and we haven’t had too many of them. The front four have been great in recent weeks and since Darren O’Dea has come in, he has steadied us at the back.”