Anywhere else it would have seemed a quite extraordinary turn of events but on Saturday evening Dundee supporters seemed to outline in the unhappiest fashion what their club currently stands for.

"The Dee" stands for depression, it stands for despondency, it stands for disillusionment and for disgruntlement.

All of which would be fair enough if this was some ugly relegation struggle but the Dens Park side had been just one kick of the ball - Ben Gordon's first-time left-footed shot into the bottom right corner of Dan Twardzik's goal - from going clear at the top of the SPFL Championship. Instead they only share the lead with Falkirk and are behind on goal difference.

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By any normal standards this could hardly be considered a crisis worthy of angry calls for the removal of the manager. Yet not only did that happen immediately after Ryan Conroy's penalty had been cancelled out by Alloa Athletic's late leveller, but the manager in question made it clear he felt it was justified.

"The fans are right," said John Brown. "They're calling for me at the end there and I don't blame them. They've been very loyal this season and stuck with us so you've got to take the flak when it comes."

The Dundee manager knows that he joined the club in controversial circumstances last season, his appointment coming after Barry Smith was sacked. The latter remains hugely popular at Dens so Brown's discomfort was doubtless accentuated by the presence of his fellow former Dundee midfield stalwart on Saturday, as Smith took charge of Alloa for the first time.

Smith arguably failed to capitalise fully on the effect his presence could have had on proceedings since he would surely have had the warmest of welcomes had he walked to the dugout rather than taking a seat beside the depressed, disillusioned, despondent and disgruntled home supporters.

Smith watched from the stand as his new charges ceded the majority of possession to their opponents yet permitted few clear-cut scoring opportunities, while the penalty Dundee were awarded looked to be a mistake as Michael Doyle appeared to make full contact with the ball before Peter MacDonald tumbled over him.

Smith takes over a club that has, in terms of resources, become accustomed to over-performing under his predecessor Paul Hartley.

By contrast, the man who took over from Smith at Dens Park knows that further below-par performances, with more than a month having past since the then outright league leaders last won, cannot be accepted.

Brown has made significant changes in both personnel and formation in recent weeks, but it has so far been to no avail. That has become the subject of another complaint from the regulars.

"It's been a number of weeks that the results have not been going our way," said Brown. "We've had chance after chance to get a lead at the top of the table and we've not taken it so I've got to look at my own part in that too.

"In the Livingston game [last month] we never performed so I had to change and I've had to change again, but we're relying on the same nucleus of guys."

Now or never is essentially the message from a man who sounded as if he is not prepared to put himself or the supporters through this much longer. "You're joint top of the league still but the penny's got to drop soon or else you'll miss out," he said.