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Dundee 1 Kilmarnock 1: Point well made as Slater scores to question preconceptions of his Kilmarnock side

On the basis of much pre-season analysis this was two points lost by Dundee and one point gained by Kilmarnock as a result of a free-kick that would have been worthy of the Brazilian stage on which the game was played this summer.

Craig Slater wheels away after scoring spectacularly. Picture: SNS
Craig Slater wheels away after scoring spectacularly. Picture: SNS

As Craig Slater, whose sumptuous goal cancelled out the penalty converted by Gary Harkins, however acknowledged the real point may be that the SPFL Premiership could again be wide open from second place down - with all of the clubs concerned having the potential to end up in the top half of the league table if they can generate enough momentum.

As creditworthy as his strike was Slater's admission - in these days when so many in sport profess to pay little attention to press and pundits - that the visitors' performance had been influenced in part by the expectations of the wider world.

"It's not something we've talked about, but the players are no' daft," said the 20-year-old. "We've picked up on some people maybe writing us off and I think everyone's playing for their own pride and wondering, why can we not push higher up the table? We've got a lot of good players so there's no reason why we can't push into the top six.

"Most people were expecting Dundee to get off to a good start but I think we were by far the better team in the first half. Second half it died off a bit but everyone worked so hard and hopefully it can continue on into the season."

Dundee certainly started breezily and were, over the piece, worthy of the lead they earned through Harkins' penalty. The forward was, overall, the best player on the field, but he and his team-mates would drop out of the game for the rest of the first half and Slater's brilliant equaliser from a free-kick awarded just outside the penalty box was no more than his team deserved as they pressed their opponents into allowing them a substantial amount of possession in dangerous areas.

The second half conformed much more to the expected pattern with Harkins and Dundee captain Kevin Thomson increasingly influential, while Paul McGowan carried a threat. Within seconds of the restart Harkins carried the ball deep into the Kilmarnock box and forced a fine save from Craig Samson. Indeed, the goalkeeper was a busy man right to the end when he got the break that his performance deserved as Peter MacDonald's free-kick rebounded off the woodwork.

Ultimately, though, with Chris Johnston providing the visitors with some creative flair in the first half and both Josh Magennis and Tope Obadeyi sporadically causing Dundee problems, there was much to please both managers. Paul Hartley has, after all, every reason to believe that having played with such fluency in the second half his Dundee team should accrue enough points to avoid the kind of worries that normally afflict newly promoted sides.

Allan Johnston, the Kilmarnock manager, felt the penalty his side had conceded was a bit soft, meanwhile, suggesting that Harkins tends to be knocked over too easily. Yet he was satisfied with how his players dug in to avoid the defeat which, he thought, would probably have been their lot in similar circumstances last season.

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Football

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