Dundee’s 2021 ended on a sour note.
Not only for their fifth defeat in a row as they were beaten 2-1 at Aberdeen on a freezing Boxing Day afternoon.
But for the disarray they found themselves in attempting to adhere to the SPFL’s rules on Covid-19 cases.
A positive test was returned on the morning of the game, five further players had to isolate, leaving the Dark Blues with only 10 senior outfield players.
When examining Dundee’s 2-1 loss at Pittodrie, there’s only one place to start.
This game should not have been played.
Technically Dundee met the SPFL’s rules in needing 13 available players. However, two of those had barely trained following injury and three of their 14 were goalkeepers.
No offence to assistant manager Dave Mackay but needing to bring a 40-year-old out of retirement to bolster your numbers makes a mockery of Scotland’s top flight.
Not only that but the uncertainty and concern suffered by the remainder of the squad in an environment where the virus could still be prevalent should have been avoided.
The players were clearly worried about contracting Covid and then interacting with their young families or older relatives.
Manager James McPake quite rightly described it as “an utter lack of care” from the governing body.
Just when it looked like the Leigh Griffiths of old might be no more, the Scotland striker sent a timely reminder there is still gold in those boots.
The frontman’s strike was brutal as it flew into the top corner from 30 yards.
A truly unstoppable shot that gives hope Griffiths can still find the form Dundee need to see.
Leigh Griffiths > Roberto Carlos pic.twitter.com/oExQzRks3a
— Dundee Derry 🇫🇷 (@DundeeDerry) December 27, 2021
Dundee’s defence has been a real problem all season.
Sunday’s backline was a new one – Corey Panter getting his first chance in the league since signing on loan in the summer.
The youngster lined up on the right of a back three and did OK.
The Aberdeen goals, though, frustrated manager McPake. Once more, they were too easily given away.
Ryan Hedges made it 1-1 with the Dark Blues missing chances to clear the danger while Adam Legzdins will be disappointed he couldn’t keep Lewis Ferguson’s second out.
Reinforcements are needed in January.
Brighter times ahead
It may be five matches lost in a row but the early winter break is a welcome one at Dens Park.
Time to get isolating players back, time to clear up some injuries.
A positive sign at Pittodrie was seeing Shaun Byrne and Charlie Adam taking part in the warm-up as they near a return to fitness.
Whether there are returning players or fresh faces, Dundee’s matchday squad for their next game after the break will certainly be vastly different to Sunday’s at Pittodrie.