Charlie Adam reckons it’s now or never for Dundee’s season after Saturday’s loss to Queen of the South made it back-to-back defeats.
The former Scotland international is pleased to have a match against Ayr United on Tuesday night after another disappointing afternoon for the Dark Blues.
The loss saw Dundee drop to fifth in the Championship table, with the Doonhamers leapfrogging their hosts and into the play-off spots.
But the Dee do have three games in hand on Allan Johnston’s side, starting with the thrice-rearranged clash with the Honest Men.
And Adam insists Dundee have to find some form as they head into the second half of the season.
“Ayr is a huge game now, massive,” he said.
“The league has to start on Tuesday if we want to achieve what we want to.
“We can’t just keep saying we have enough games because we don’t, they are running out.
“We have to start winning and that has to start Tuesday against an Ayr United side that beat us comfortably down there earlier in the season.
“We have to be ready and we have to be at it.
“Having the next game so quickly is good to get over the disappointment but only if we win.
“You don’t want it to linger for a week.
“We have to get some kind of platform now to get a big run going from now until the end of the season.”
‘You put pressure on yourself’
The loss to Queens is Dundee’s third match in a row without victory since defeating runaway leaders Hearts at the start of the year.
That, combined with a number of matches being called off due to the wintry weather, has seen their season falter.
Saturday’s match was only their second in the league since that 3-1 victory over the Jambos.
Asked whether there was any rustiness in what was a poor opening half against the Doonhamers, Adam replied: “No, I just think we didn’t start well.
“Collectively and individually we didn’t do what we were supposed to do.
“It cost us goals and all of a sudden we are 2-0 down and fighting our way back. Second half we create probably enough chances to win the game.
“If you don’t start the game well enough, though, you put pressure on yourself. They sat in and made it difficult to break down.
“You don’t give yourself a chance, it’s hard to build anything and get a platform in the game.
“We always say first 10, 15 minutes to try and get it in behind and put pressure on them but we just never did that from the off.
“Cammy (Kerr’s) throw, my poor touch and we end up losing a goal straight away. It’s disappointing.”
How the match shaped up
It took less than a minute for referee Barry Cook to point to the spot after the visitors pounced on a slack start from Dundee.
Adam’s touch let Isaiah Jones begin Queens’ attack before centre-back Lee Ashcroft missed his tackle on Niyah Joseph and compounded his error with a barge into the back of Middlesbrough loanee Jones.
Ayo Obileye stepped up to roll the ball home from the spot for Queens and they could easily have added to their lead before a stroke of luck made it 2-0.
A free header for Queens centre-back Rhys Breen came careering back off the far post, struck the helpless Jack Hamilton in the Dundee goal and bounced into the net.
No doubt there were some harsh words spoken at half-time and Dundee came out after the break looking far more dangerous.
Sitting midfielder Shaun Byrne had been sacrificed for another forward in Danny Mullen and the former St Mirren man should have scored within minutes of his arrival.
A good ball from Kerr was missed by Osman Sow and left Mullen with the goal gaping at the far post but he smashed wide.
That was forgotten quickly, however, after Jason Cummings was quickest onto an Ashcroft clearance to poke the ball beyond the Queens goalie and into the net for 2-1.
Sow flashed a header wide from a Paul McMullan cross before a goal-line scramble saw Rohan Ferguson deny Mullen once more and Sow poke in the rebound.
Referee Barry Cook, however, blew for a foul on the goalkeeper and disallowed the goal. Replays have since shown the goalie spilled the ball under pressure.
The Doonhamers were happy to sit in and defend but were always a threat on the break, with the pace of Jones a particular danger.
But it was their 36-year-old makeshift full-back Willie Gibson who did the damage on 78 minutes.
Striding out of defence and playing a one-two with Jones, the former Kilmarnock and Dunfermline man smashed a 25-yarder into the top corner under very little pressure from Dundee for 3-1.
The deficit would be cut back to one when Jordan Marshall nodded in McMullan’s cross after 82 minutes.
There were chances for Jonathan Afolabi and Cummings late on, but skipper Adam admits much more is needed from the Dark Blues all over the park.
“We never started the game well and losing a goal after 40-odd seconds is not what you want,” he added.
“It took us 45 minutes to get going.
“It’s not about individuals. Collectively as a group we should be doing better.
“We need to find a solution to get out of this run.
“Back to back defeats is tough. It is frustrating again but we have to dust ourselves down and go again Tuesday.”