Dundee boss James McPake says his side should have been out of sight by half-time against Partick at the weekend and has urged his players to heed that lesson at Ayr on Friday night.
The Dark Blues head to Somerset Park for this week’s TV clash on the BBC on the back of a late collapse at home to the Jags that saw a 1-0 lead disappear into a 3-1 defeat in the final five minutes.
The Dens men had dominated much of the opening half but had only Paul McGowan’s strike to show for their hard work.
And James has urged his Dundee side to take their opportunities while they are on top to prevent any chance of a late surprise.
He said: “We’ve watched it back with the players and the over-riding thing was we should have been out of sight and we weren’t.
“To lose it in the way we did at the end was disappointing.
“We had a good meeting among the players, I know that means nothing after losing the game but it’s really important to go over what happened.
“We were really poor in the second half.
“They made a couple of changes at half-time, though didn’t change their shape, but we never got going in the second half.
“It probably wasn’t as bad as I said it was after the game, having watched it back. We still had chances in the second half but that’s sugar-coating it a wee bit because it certainly wasn’t anywhere near good enough.”
In the league this campaign Dundee have managed just 11 goals – the fifth highest of the 10 Championship teams.
Early in the season James felt the problem for his side struggling to hit the net came from a lack of creativity.
Now he feels they’ve addressed that and it’s about the final act of putting the chances away.
He added: “At the start of the season, I was really critical about the top end of the pitch and not just about not scoring but not creating.
“On Saturday, we created barrowloads and, if we get the second goal, it’s a different game.
“We didn’t and you then have to see games out.
“People get edgy and I get that because they want us to do well.
“We need to be man enough when we are only one goal in front, like we did against Ayr here, to see it out.
“It is a team game and it’s everybody together.”
Despite falling to defeat at the weekend, Dundee didn’t lose any ground on league leaders Dundee United and Ayr United – Friday night’s opponents.
Before Partick’s equaliser through former Dee Kenny Miller, the Dark Blues were heading for a vital win that would have put them right in the mix at the top of the division.
The Dens gaffer added: “The league is up and down right through every game.
“With 85 minutes gone, it was looking good for us. I’ve said to the players that we’re not talking about gaps, we take care of ourselves.
“We do that but if you’d stopped that clock on 85 minutes then what a fantastic weekend – but that’s the league we are in.
“It’s so unpredictable that you need to be at it always.”
James will come up against Scottish football’s newest manager after Mark Kerr was unveiled as Ayr’s new boss.
“Mark knows the football club and is an experienced player,” said James.
“I like him, he’s good guy from my area – good luck to him after Friday!
“He’s a young manager and I’m glad they’ve given him a chance.
“Mark is taking over a good side and he’ll put his own ideas into it and change what he sees fit.
“Fair play to them for appointing a young manager.
“I hope he does OK – after Friday.”