Mark McGhee guided Covid-hit Dundee to a 1-1 draw against former club Motherwell.
McGhee was without 10 players, but the cinch Premiership’s bottom side were well worth their point at Fir Park.
Paul McMullan gave the visitors a sixth-minute lead following Stephen O’Donnell’s mistake before Joe Efford netted his first goal for Motherwell 12 minutes later.
The equaliser failed to kick-start the home team’s performance and they remain without a league win in 2022.
Dundee were already missing attackers Zak Rudden and Luke McCowan through Covid-related absences and a further positive case on Friday saw them without six players in total to isolation.
Experienced pair Charlie Adam and Niall McGinn also dropped out through injury to join goalkeeper Adam Legzdins and long-term absentee Cillian Sheridan on the sidelines.
McGhee, whose final game in charge of Motherwell five years ago was a 5-1 defeat by Dundee, was forced into five changes following the midweek draw with Hibernian.
Midfielder Declan McDaid was handed a lone striker role for his first game since playing for Falkirk four months ago on loan and 20-year-old goalkeeper Harry Sharp made his first start in professional football.
Dundee needed all the help they could get and O’Donnell handed them a gift. The right-back got a deep cross under control but then decided to try and take on McMullan inside his box and lost the ball. The winger curled a shot into the top corner.
Max Anderson soon came close, but the hosts got level when Kevin van Veen did well to cut the ball back under pressure to Efford on the six-yard line. The American’s first effort was blocked and his second proved too powerful for Sharp to keep out.
Efford flashed a shot over from 20 yards after better work from O’Donnell and Motherwell looked like they should have had either a penalty or a free-kick when Ryan Sweeney bundled Kaiyne Woolery over on the corner of the box as the pair chased a long ball. Referee Andrew Dallas appeared unsure and played on.
But Motherwell, who had Dundee-bound centre-back Ricki Lamie playing at left-back, generally struggled to exert pressure on the under-strength visitors, with simple passes going astray and crosses overhit.
The visitors grew in confidence after the break and sensed they could get more out of the game. McDaid forced a save from long range and was just off target when he did well to get his foot round O’Donnell to hook a dangerous McMullan cross.
Liam Kelly saved from Jordan McGhee, while Dundee substitute Jay Chapman and left-back Jordan Marshall were both off target.
For Motherwell, Woolery, Mark O’Hara and Efford failed to get ambitious shots on target and Van Veen curled just over the top corner from inside the area.
Motherwell manager Graham Alexander waited until the 77th minute before making changes. Ross Tierney and Callum Slattery came on, but the decision to remove O’Hara promoted widespread dissent among the home fans.
The home team finished the stronger side. Van Veen set up Tierney, but the Irishman was surrounded quickly and shot straight at Sharp, who produced a good diving save from Woolery in the closing moments.
McGhee more than pleased as Dundee gain ‘unlikely point’
Dundee manager Mark McGhee:
“I think we have to be more than pleased. The young goalie came in, Declan McDaid played up front – not played there and not played since we have been here certainly – and both acquitted themselves very well.
“The others we knew on Friday, but Ian [Lawlor] only tested positive this morning. We had to get the young goalie out of his bed and tell him to bring his gloves. I was delighted for him.
“I had hoped that Wednesday would give us a foothold and we could start building. Then you lose five players who started.
“But I think this performance has continued from that.”
Alexander: We should have stamped our authority on the game
Motherwell manager Graham Alexander:
“All the things were there for us, but you have to start well and we started in terrible fashion. Honestly, the goal was so poor.
“It changes momentum, gets our crowd edgy, gets us edgy, makes them puff their chests out and feel better about themselves.
“We responded well and got the goal and we should have then really stamped our authority on the game, but I don’t think we did that.
“We did it in spells here and there, but we never had enough sustained pressure or quality in the final third to get that winning goal.
“It is a missed opportunity, 100 per cent.
“But, amazingly enough, that opportunity is still there for us because of results elsewhere, and that’s what we have got to focus on.”
Motherwell host Hibernian in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals on Sunday March 13 at 12.30pm, while Dundee entertain St Mirren in the Scottish Premiership on Wednesday at 7.45pm.