REACTION: Hopkin and McPake break down Championship clash
After Ayr’s 3-0 loss at home to Dundee, both David Hopkin and James McPake gave their thoughts to the media. Jack Donnelly reports.
Dundee drew level on points with second-placed Raith Rovers in the Scottish Championship as they ran out as 3-0 winners away against Ayr at Somerset Park on Tuesday evening.
The Dee took the lead after 68 minutes when a deflected cross was controlled and fired past Viljami Sinisalo by Max Anderson. The away side struck again just six miuntes later, when Paul McMullan’s long-range strike was blocked into the path of Johnathan Afolabi, who blasted it into the net from close range. Paul McGowan wrapped up the scoring in the 86th minute, after shifting his feet on the edge of the area and placing a lovely strike into the top right corner.
Ayr could well have opened the scoring just minutes before Dundee’s first, with Tom Walsh opting to pass across the box instead of taking the shot on himself.
The result leaves Dundee comfortably in third, only behind Raith on goal difference, while Ayr remain in seventh, just one point ahead of Arbroath and Morton in eighth and ninth respectively.
A Disappointing Response
After calling for a reaction after Saturday’s loss to Clyde, Ayr manager David Hopkin was left disappointed by his players as they returned to Championship action:
“I keep saying the same things since I’ve been here – the goals we give away are embarrassing. We go up the pitch, Tom [Walsh] had a free shot at goal. I think if he takes that on, you’re 1-0 up and then they go up the pitch and score. Really poor, really poor goals.
“We have to do better; I’ve told the players. We just can’t seem to defend basic, basic things and that’s what’s killing us just now.”
The frustrations were even more defined for Hopkin, as he believed that Dundee hadn’t created much in the way of chances throughout the game:
“They [Dundee] didn’t create anything. They all came through our mistakes. The first goal’s a mistake, we show inside and there’s nobody marking in the box, he gets a free turn and shoots; the second one, we try and clear it and it hits somebody and with the third one, it’s because we’re chasing the game.
“It’s difficult, it’s hard to take for me. We’ve got another home game on Saturday and then another tough game at Arbroath. We’ve got four games left and I’m looking at players now who are going to stand up.”
If Hopkin could take any positives away from the defeat, it was that the players seemed to be fired up in the changing room after the final whistle:
“It’s the first time I’ve been here that I’ve heard anyone speaking and having a go at each other, so that’s a good sign – but we need more.
“We’ve come in at a difficult time. We’re trying to guide players away from where we shouldn’t be with the players we do have. We can’t keep giving goals away. Even if you’re not playing your best, the game should finish 0-0, we take a point and we’re a point closer to safety.
“I’m frustrated, and I’m sure the players are, but we just have to go again – we’ve got four massive games left.”
A Successful Trip
While Hopkin was left frustrated by his side, Dundee manager James McPake was more than pleased with what his players gave on Tuesday evening:
“I’m pleased with my players. I thought they got exactly what they deserved out of that game. Three weeks ago, we got turned over by the same team playing the exact same way because we were a bit naïve on the night. That wasn’t going to happen again.
“The quality was outstanding. Finished with a third goal that, in my opinion, you’ll struggle to see a better goal all season. I’m biased – it’s my team – but what a goal it is. So, it’s three points, back to work tomorrow for another massive goal on Saturday.”
Ayr played away to Dundee almost a month ago and ran out as 3-1 winners, so McPake was happy to have seen his side work around a similar style of football:
“You need to fight against his (Hopkin’s) teams because that’s what they do. That’s not being disrespectful – I said this when they beat us 3-1, so I’m not standing here gloating. I’ve got respect for him because he’s got a team out of this league before. I haven’t. I’ve been nowhere near doing that yet – hopefully this is the season, but we need to wait and see.
“When they came to Dens that night, they caught us cold. In my opinion, it’s been the best thing that’s happened to us because we’ve not been like that since and we won’t be again this season.”