“We need to start getting the finger out” – that’s the blunt appraisal of Dundee’s form this season from midfield man Paul McGowan.
As usual the 33-year-old pulled no punches in the description of the Dark Blues after they struggled to a 3-3 draw at Alloa on Friday night.
The point did mean they remained unbeaten in their last three matches but draws against Raith Rovers and the Wasps while rivals Hearts and Dunfermline were adding wins has left Dundee off the pace just four games into the Championship season.
Charlie Adam’s 85th-minute penalty earned a point on a disappointing night for James McPake’s side in Clackmannanshire.
That came after poor defending allowed their hosts Alloa to take a 1-0 and then 3-1 lead with all three goals stemming from a failure to deal with crosses into the area.
And McGowan is in no doubt about what Dundee need to show to get back to winning ways.
“We’ve got to start being horrible to beat,” he said.
“It’s something we’ve got to look at and something we have been looking at, we need to start putting bodies on the line, go and win the first header, the second header.
“Second half we went 3-1 down and the only positive is we showed character and got it back.
“By all accounts we should have had a penalty at the end but, listen, conceding three goals isn’t good enough.”
McGowan was making his first start since the opening day thumping at Hearts as he teamed up with Shaun Byrne and Adam in the centre of midfield.
Graham Dorrans was missing after a positive Covid-19 test the previous weekend while Lee Ashcroft called off sick on the morning of the game.
The club have subsequently stated that a second player in their squad has tested positive for the virus.
With no Ashcroft, full-back Cammy Kerr stepped into the central defensive position with Christie Elliott in his spot. Youngster Jack Wilkie, 16-year-old son of former Dee, United and Scotland defender Lee, took a spot on the bench.
The disruption to the starting XI didn’t help a poor opening period for McPake’s men as they looked nervy at the back and their attempts to press high on the Alloa defenders were poorly executed at times.
Chances were at a premium for both sides with fog descending on the Indodrill Stadium and it took 31 minutes for either side to have a shot on target.
That saw the home side take the lead as Robert Thomson was left free at the far post to finish after Dundee had cleared a corner.
“The first goal was a rubbish goal to lose, it’s second phase. That knocked us a wee bit,” McGowan said.
“The goals we are conceding are just…set-plays, second phase, we’re just not defending and we’re getting punished now.
“To go away from home and score three goals and only come away with a point is not good enough.
“It shouldn’t take us a half to start and that’s what’s been the case. We’re doing it in bits and bobs and we’re got to find that consistency for most of the game and we’re just not doing that at this moment.
“It’s frustrating because you see in the second half we came out and got the goal and then bang, we lose another sh**e goal.
“That’s the most disappointing thing, we came out for the second half all guns blazing and get the goal.
“There was only one team playing but then we lose another goal.”
McDaid fired in a fine equaliser on 47 minutes which, as McGowan says, should have sparked the Dark Blues into life – however another poor concession put them on the back foot almost immediately.
This time it was an Adam Brown free-kick that wasn’t dealt with, neither centre-back Kerr or Jordan McGhee covering themselves in glory as Alan Trouten eventually bundled the ball in.
On 63 minutes the night got worse with Trouten adding his second as he touched in a low Steven Hetherington cross in front of goalie Calum Ferrie.
From there the hosts looked certain to take all three points but Dundee talisman Adam had other ideas.
Manager McPake has been frustrated at his side’s inability to get on the end of the high-quality deliveries from former Scotland man Adam this term.
This time they did, although there was an element of luck about Kerr’s goal. The free-kick from wide sent in by Adam was horrible to deal with for the Alloa defence and it cannoned off the post and in via the leg of Kerr.
Traffic was going only one way from there and Dundee had their equaliser as Scott Taggart was adjudged to have handled a fierce Adam effort in the area. The midfielder himself stepped up to smash the spot-kick beyond Reece Willison.
And they could have won it with another penalty as McDaid went down under a challenge. Referee Alan Muir, though, pulled out a yellow card and booked the Dundee winger for simulation.
We’re letting a lot of people down just now.”
They had to make do with a point in the end with results over the weekend now leaving them five points behind both Raith Rovers and Dunfermline while Hearts kept up their 100% record with a third win from three.
“There’s a gap, no doubt about that,” McGowan said.
“And when we’re not picking up three points it’s only going to get bigger.
“We saw it last year, it happened so quickly and we can’t allow that to happen this year.
“We just need to keep plugging on. You can sit here and say all the stuff you need to say, ‘Aye, next week’ and all that.
“Listen, we need to roll our sleeves up and get better. Every one of us.
“We’re letting a lot of people down just now.
“Scoring three goals away from home and coming away with a point is not good enough, by everyone. It’s not just pointing fingers, it’s everyone.
“We’ll go away and analyse it but we need to start getting the finger out. We need to start early doors playing the way we did in the second half because before we know it we’re going to have a mountain to climb.
“But on the other hand, great credit to the boys coming back from 3-1 because I’ve played in many a game here and played in teams who would have gone under there.
“So, a bit of credit has to go to the boys for that but we know we’ve got a long way to go and it starts with every one of us.”