Zak Rudden inflicted late heartbreak on Kilmarnock with an injury-time equaliser for Dundee in a thrilling encounter at Dens Park.

Derek McInnes and Tony Docherty were in opposing dugouts for the first time as the spoils ended up shared following  Rudden’s late goal. The strike stopped a Daniel Armstrong inspired Killie from heading back to Ayrshire with all three points. 

Despite an entertaining encounter, referee David Munro’s chaotic officiating will grab the headlines with VAR playing a major role and infuriating the hosts. 

Dundee started in the ascendancy and deservedly took the lead on 16 minutes when the impressive Owen Beck’s corner was flicked on by Joe Shaughnessy to find Amadou Bakayoko lurking unmarked at the back post to tap home. 

The home support’s joy quickly turned into anger when Kilmarnock were awarded a penalty following a VAR intervention. There was no great protestation from the Killie players but VAR official Euan Anderson instructed Munro to head to the pitchside monitor and Bakayoko was penalised.

The ball did strike Bakayoko’s arm from Robbie Deas’ header but it was from close range and the hosts felt aggrieved. Armstrong made no mistake from the spot to level and more controversy quickly followed three minutes later when Mulligan was dismissed. 

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The Dundee midfielder caught Armstrong with a cynical challenge but a yellow card would have sufficed and it appeared VAR agreed as Anderson instructed his colleague to review it. Ref Munro headed to the monitor and the anticipation was that he’d reverse his decision but he stuck by his guns. 

Kilmarnock looked to have won all three points when talisman Armstrong added his second of the afternoon on 81 minutes after rolling the ball into an empty net from Andrew Dallas’ cutback. But Dundee were rewarded for their spirited display when Rudden fired home from a corner with goalkeeper Trevor Carson dropping to his knees in celebration after making his way into the opposition box. 

Here are three things we learned from a pulsating encounter 

Friends reunited 

McInnes and Docherty occupied opposing dugouts for the first time after 15 years of working with each other. Docherty departed Kilmarnock in the summer to take up the reigns at Dens Park after working as McInnes’ trusted lieutenant at St Johnstone, Bristol City and Aberdeen. 

The close friends shared a warm embrace pre-match but any goodwill quickly disappeared after kick-off. The dynamic between the pair was a fascinating watch throughout as they both remonstrated with the fourth official Colin Steven after a number of questionable decisions from referee Munro.

McInnes’ frustration at conceding an injury-time equalise was compounded when he was sent off. The Kilmarnock boss controlled the ball on the touchline but ref Munro deemed it wasn’t out and McInnes was dismissed with his former lieutenant Docherty gesticulating for the decision. 

On facing his former assistant, McInnes said: “It was absolutely fine. I understand there was a lot of talk about it because we are coming together again. But it’s Kilmarnock against Dundee, not anything else. The next time we face each other it won’t be such a big deal but I’ve got lots of respect for Tony and you don’t work for so long with someone without that.” 

Docherty added: “The linesman said the ball was in play and I never knew it was a red-card offence. I feel for Derek and he was obviously caught up in the emotion. I wasn’t sure what happened as I was looking at my bench but I’ll see him now.”

VAR inconsistencies

David Munro was at the centre of a controversy last weekend across Tannadice Street and it was deja vu this afternoon. 

His decision to penalise Bakayoko for handball was incredibly harsh given his proximity to Deas and Mulligan’s red card had both managers in agreement. 

“It was never a red card. I thought there were worse challenges in the game and I was really disappointed because when you see the referee going over to the monitor, you think he’s going to reverse his decision. Derek said to me that it was a yellow card but the referee said it was reckless. It was a foul and a booking. It’s about consistency because if you’re giving that then there could’ve been seven or eight red cards today.”  

McInnes added: “When I saw the challenge, I thought it was a bad challenge but I wasn’t convinced that it was a red card. When it’s reviewed, you think it’s going to be overturned but I’ll need to see it again.”

Set-piece concern 

Kilmarnock’s excellent start to the season, with wins over the Old Firm, sparked huge optimism amongst supporters but they’ve failed to maintain that momentum and they are now winless in four since defeating Celtic. 

McInnes’ sides are notoriously well drilled at set-pieces and that’s why he was so frustrated to concede twice from two corners. Dundee captain Shaughnessy caused Kilmarnock problems and he provided two assists with flick-ons after outjumping his marker. 

On losing the late equaliser, McInnes said: “We were conscious not to give away set-plays. For us to lose two set-plays, particularly the one at the death, is so disappointing. Last week we lost a goal from a second phase at a set play against Hibs. It’s really frustrating because we should have been seeing the game out.”