By Calum McCrindle
Both teams started the match eager to get a goal. Dundee carved Ayr open every time they crossed the halfway line through Graham Dorrans. The Honest Men were quick to offer their reply to Dundee’s early dominance, Aaron Drinan chasing his own flick on and squaring for Alan Forrest who flicked an effort just wide of the post.
The rain arrived in Ayrshire just after the opening fifteen minutes and the game began to settle. Both sides were opting for the long balls into their strikers with Dundee’s Kane Hemmings having plenty to chase.
At the other end of the park it was Michael Moffat and Drinan linking up well to get Ayr up the pitch. Dundee were the first to muster a chance after the arrival of the typical Ayrshire weather when Jordan McGhee weaved his way into the United box before curling an effort off the base of the post after the half hour mark.
Both teams started the second half in a similar fashion to the opening period. Mark Kerr’s side looked the livelier with Jordan Houston squaring for Moffat who calmly slotted the ball past Conor Hazard in the Dundee goal, however, the veteran’s goal was ruled out for offside.
With conditions getting worse as the second half went on it was Ayr who would have the best chance of the game. Cammy Kerr was caught napping on the ball inside his own box when he should’ve cleared it and wiped out Moffat in his second attempt at a clearance.
Aaron Muirhead stepped up and placed the ball down in the hope of breaking the deadlock, but it was not be. Muirhead hammered his penalty down to Hazard’s left and the Dundee keeper guessed right and made the save with a strong hand to keep the game level.
As time ticked down it looked like neither side would be able to force that all important winning goal. Ayr produced another effort, this time Stephen Kelly testing Hazard from 25 yards out but the Dee keeper was equal to his effort.
Hemmings at the other end came close for Dundee but ultimately couldn’t break the deadlock as the points were shared in Ayrshire. Both teams will go again on Tuesday at Dens Park, this time hoping for three points in the race for Premiership play-off security. Here are three things we learned.
Berra is the man at the back for Dundee
After a very public exit from Hearts in January, things were looking grim for the former Scotland defender. Deemed surplus requirements, Christophe Berra made no secret that he was disappointed to be cast out by new manager Daniel Stendel.
Dundee threw Berra a lifeline and he has taken it and excelled. The former Ipswich man looked confident at the back against Ayr, something that couldn’t be said for his start to the season at Hearts.
Although Berra is getting towards the twilight of his career, Dundee will be glad he decided to choose Dens Park upon leaving Hearts. He was composed in defence and a threat from set pieces at the other end. He may not be a suitable choice at centre back in the top flight, but he can certainly do a job in Championship.
Dundee need goals and they need them now
While Dundee are in the hunt for a promotion play-off spot, they need to prove they’re a good enough side to compete in the Premiership. As good as they were defensively against Ayr it’s the other end of the park where they need to improve.
Hemmings has scored nine goals this season for the Dee and with Dorrans in the middle of the park you would expect more in an attacking sense. The Dee have scored four goals in eight games during 2020 and if they want top-flight football, they’ll need to pick up some firepower in attack.
Both teams need to improve if they make the play-off final
Ayr and Dundee are sitting in the final two promotion play-off spots in the Championship, however, their performances in this game were far from flattering. Most of the action was created via hit-and-hope tactics and they will both need to improve if they make it to the play-off final.
A side playing football on the ground could pose a significant threat to any Premiership hopes. Whether it’s Hearts, St Mirren, Ross County or Hamilton that finish in that 11th spot, whoever they meet from the Championship will likely need to kick it up a gear or two.