Dundee have lost two league games in 2024 – both to Hearts, both with a 3-2 scoreline and both having been in front and looking good.
Even the two Dee goalscorers were the same in Jordan McGhee and Lyall Cameron.
But it was another disappointing and frustrating end to the game for the Dark Blues.
As much for the manner in which the game got away from them as for putting in a strong performance but earning nothing from it.
However, what did we learn from the 3-2 reverse on Saturday?
Courier Sport was there to analyse the action.
Where else to start but that penalty decision – the fifth penalty given against Dundee in the last four games.
With the score at 2-1, the Dark Blues were in good shape to take the points even if their defensive line was getting deeper by the minute.
But with 12 minutes to go, Lawrence Shankland went for goal and Lee Ashcroft’s block was given as handball.
Dundee were furious on the pitch, manager Tony Docherty and defender Ashcroft were incredulous off it afterwards.
The distance between ball and hand was very short, the big defender couldn’t do anything about it and it was an incredibly harsh decision.
The furious reaction from the home side is completely understandable – Luke McCowan picked up a yellow for dissent, Owen Beck did too after the final whistle.
Understandable because it felt like an obvious injustice with the match turning away from them in that moment.
However, Dundee’s ire should be directed at the handball rule rather than the officials tasked with implement the laws of the game.
Because, by the letter of the law, the decision was correct.
IFAB rules state that handball will be given if a player “touches the ball with their hand/arm when it has made their body unnaturally bigger.
“A player is considered to have made their body unnaturally bigger when the position of their hand/arm is not a consequence of, or justifiable by, the player’s body movement for that specific situation.
“By having their hand/arm in such a position, the player takes a risk of their hand/arm being hit by the ball and being penalised.”
There are all sorts of grey areas in that wording but it means if a defender has an arm out, even if just slightly or completely unintentionally, the risk of giving away a penalty is there.
For Ashcroft in this case it came down to bad luck rather than bad judgement. It was majorly, majorly harsh on the defender.
By law, the decision was right. But the law is an ass.
There was plenty to like about Dundee’s performance in this game.
Hearts had a lot of the ball and Trevor Carson had to be at his best in stages of the first half to keep them out.
They are clearly the third best team in the country and are now closer to Rangers in second than Kilmarnock in fourth.
That was the task in front of Dundee. And they deserve great credit for the way they took to that task.
Goals came from McGhee and Cameron, two assists for Luke McCowan with Owen Beck and Amadou Bakayoko also playing their part in the moves.
The likes of Malachi Boateng and Michael Mellon also played well while Zach Robinson made an impact off the bench.
The chance was there to win it for Robinson. First he brought a good save out of Zander Clark from an angle before he fluffed his header moments later.
The game was there for the striker and his team. He got it wrong and Hearts made it a costly miss.
But perform like this against teams outside the top three and there will be far more bright days ahead than dark.
Dundee’s second goal was a thing of beauty.
They’ll be hard pushed to better that this season in terms of a team goal.
Beck chipped the ball into Bakayoko on halfway, he nicked it over an opponent to Cameron and then a sharp couple of passes between the latter and McCowan opened up the space.
The move was good, the finish was better.
Cameron finished smartly at Tynecastle. This one was power and precision as he zipped a fine finish beyond Zander Clark from 20 yards.
Cameron finished last season – his debut campaign as a first-teamer – as top scorer.
This time around, he’s not far off again. Robinson and Bakayoko each have six goals, now Cameron has four.
Dundee played well, there was little between the teams.
What made the difference was Lawrence Shankland.
First half he was kept quiet but in the second half Dundee’s defence couldn’t handle him.
Shankland is the top striker in the country – he’s got double the league goals Kyogo has managed for Celtic this campaign and 10 in his last nine matches.
Yes, there are things the Dark Blues could have done better but sometimes you just have to accept the opponent was too good.