Ayr United piled the pressure on Dundee and manager James McPake as inconsistency struck once more in a poor 3-1 defeat at Dens Park.
After seeing this contest postponed four times previously, the Dark Blues may well have wished they’d endured a fifth call-off following their second defeat in three games.
McPake’s side went behind to a goal of their own making as midfielder Paul McGowan was dispossessed, allowing Mark McKenzie to open the scoring on 18 minutes.
Just like at Somerset Park in November, Cammy Smith was on target for Ayr as he made it 2-0 shortly after the break.
And a desperate night for Dundee was capped on 84 minutes as McKenzie smashed in his second from 22 yards.
Osman Sow would pull one back with five minutes to go but it was too little too late for the hosts.
Dundee made two changes from the 2-0 win over Arbroath as Charlie Adam returned to the starting XI following his positive Covid-19 test.
He would take up the No 10 role in a 4-2-3-1 set-up with Jason Cummings leading the line.
Also in was young Sam Fisher, covering for the injured Liam Fontaine and Malachi Fagan-Walcott in central defence. However, that left no option on the bench if injury struck that position once again.
There were three changes for Ayr in David Hopkin’s second match in charge with Michael Moffat, Andy Murdoch and Tom Walsh dropping to the bench. Incoming were Joe Chalmers, Mark McKenzie and Michael Miller.
This was Dundee’s second meeting of the campaign with the Honest Men, with the first having been a real low point.
This time around it was a much more solid start from the Dark Blues, with Danny Mullen having the first effort after six minutes. A deflection, though, took the sting out of the effort.
The next one tested Ayr goalie Viljami Sinisalo far more as Cummings found space in the area and cut back for Max Anderson. The youngster fired low but saw his strike saved by the goalie’s feet.
Hopkin’s men were doubling up on McMullan but the winger was still carving out deliveries into the area.
However, it was the Honest Men who grabbed the lead on 18 minutes when they robbed Paul McGowan of the ball inside his own half. Luke McCowan grabbed it and laid it on a plate for Mark McKenzie to find the corner.
On 24 minutes, Aaron Muirhead fired a volley just over the bar as the visitors looked to cement their lead while Dundee were getting frustrated at referee Alan Newlands.
The positive start from the Dark Blues evaporated as Ayr gained in confidence.
McCowan curled an effort just over the bar from 30 yards as the Honest Men kept their one-goal lead into the break.
And they immediately stretched it after the restart,with Patrick Reading the creator this time, beating Christie Elliott on the left wing.
Adam got a toe on the cross but it fell straight to Smith and the former Dundee United man fired his team 2-0 up.
Moments later Dundee were inches from getting on the score sheet as Mullen looped a header goalward, only for the ball to come back off the upright.
Manager James McPake sent for reinforcements, with Osman Sow, Jonathan Afolabi and Declan McDaid coming on and making it a 4-4-2 for the home side.
However, there was no immediate benefit, with Ayr repelling everything thrown at them.
Hopkin’s side were happy to hold what they had as they sent on defensive midfielder Andy Murdoch for Smith before goalie Sinisalo was booked for time wasting with 20 minutes to go.
On 74 minutes, Sow tried his luck from range but his 30-yarder flew straight into the stands while he looked accusingly at the turf.
Moments later McDaid did better as he stung the goalie’s fingers from a similar position.
The ever-dangerous McCowan almost sealed the points with 10 minutes left after cutting inside, but curled his shot a yard wide.
Ayr’s victory was assured on 84 minutes after a passing move that saw Dundee chasing shadows before McKenzie grabbed his second of the evening, this time smashing in a fine strike from outside the area.
Dundee would get one back as Sow poked past the on-rushing goalkeeper but it was Ayr’s night – a night that raised yet more questions over manager McPake and his misfiring Dark Blues.
Dundee: Legzdins, Elliott, Ashcroft, Fisher, Marshall, McGowan (McDaid 54), Adam, Anderson, McMullan, Cummings (Afolabi 62), Mullen (Sow 54).
Subs not used: Hamilton, Kerr, Byrne, Cameron.
Ayr: Sinisalo, Houston, Baird, Ndaba, Reading, Muirhead, Miller (Moffat 78), McCowan (Walsh 85), Chalmers, Smith (Murdoch 60), McKenzie.
Subs not used: Roscoe, McGavin, Zanatta, Urminsky.
Referee: Alan Newlands.