MX23RW : Saturday, June 19 20:36:19| >> :600:273982:273982:
May 20, 2021 at 8.15pm UK at Kilmac Stadium at Dens Park
McGhee (6'), Adam (47')
Sow (86'), Byrne (87'), Adam (90+2')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Haunstrup (77')
Millen (41'), Burke (49'), Broadfoot (54')

Preview: Dundee vs. Kilmarnock - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Scottish Premiership Playoffs clash between Dundee and Kilmarnock, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Scottish Championship side Dundee host Premiership outfit Kilmarnock in the first leg of the relegation playoff final on Thursday evening, looking to boost their chances of a return to the top flight for the first time in three years.

The visitors, meanwhile, have lost seven of their eight league matches on the road in 2021, but are unbeaten in their last seven visits to Dens Park.

Match preview

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright pictured in January 2016© Reuters

Kilmarnock head into the first leg of the relegation playoff having won 2-0 away at basement club Hamilton Academical on Sunday, who have now officially been demoted to the Championship.

A first-half brace from Mitchell Pinnock sealed just their 10th Scottish Premiership victory of the campaign, but because Ross County beat Motherwell, Killie have been forced to lock horns with Dundee over two legs to fight for their top-flight status.

Just two years ago, the East Ayrshire outfit finished third in the top flight and qualified for the Europa League. Now, they head into Thursday's fixture at risk of dropping into the second tier for the first time since 1993.

A poor run of just two wins from 14 matches, which included eight successive defeats between January and February, resulted in Kilmarnock's slide down the table and the departure of Alex Dyer, who was replaced by Tommy Wright.

Although Wright failed to win any of his first five matches in charge, his fortunes began to turn at the end of March as Kilmarnock claimed seven points from three league games as well as securing convincing Scottish Cup victories in the third and fourth rounds.

However, defeat in the quarter-finals was followed by a 2-0 loss to Motherwell and a 3-3 draw with St Mirren, which left Killie's top-flight fate out of their own hands heading into the final day.

After the victory at Hamilton, Wright stated that his Kilmarnock players quickly shrugged off the disappointment of finding themselves in the relegation playoff, and he is pleased that his side take a decent run of form into the fixture at Dens Park.

Killie are unbeaten in each of their last six meetings against Dundee and a victory on Thursday evening would move them one step closer to Premiership survival.

General view of Dens Park, home to Dundee, from 2013© Reuters

After finishing second in the Scottish Premiership, Dundee progressed from the playoff semi-finals last weekend, beating Raith Rovers 3-1 over two legs.

The Dark Blues claimed a commanding 3-0 away victory in the first leg, thanks to a brace from Jordan McGhee and a late strike from Osman Sow. Despite losing the second leg 1-0 on Saturday, James McPake's men are now just two matches away from making a swift return to the top flight.

Dundee were relegated from the Scottish Premiership in 2018-19 after five years in the division. They finished third in their first campaign in the second tier but due to the coronavirus pandemic, all clubs voted to curtail the season, meaning only rivals Dundee United were promoted as champions.

This term, the Dee have had an impressive season, claiming 45 points from their 27 Championship matches, although they finished 12 points behind this year's champions Hearts.

McPake, who has been at the helm since they were relegated from the top flight in May 2019, has worked hard to build a competitive side that has the credentials to bounce back. Although their encounter with Kilmarnock will prove to be a challenge, the 36-year-old believes that his team have what it takes to secure promotion.

Dundee will need to tighten up their backline if they are to come out on top against Killie; the Dee conceded 40 goals in the regular Championship season – only basement club Alloa Athletic and Queen of the South shipped more goals.

McPake's side have fared better on home soil this campaign, winning eight of their 14 league matches at Dens Park. Securing another victory on Thursday evening would provide a huge boost heading into the second leg, as they look to claim their third promotion to the top flight in 10 years.

Dundee Scottish Premiership Playoffs form:
  • W
  • L

Dundee form (all competitions):
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L

Kilmarnock form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • W

Team News

Kyle Lafferty warms up for Northern Ireland on November 7, 2017© Reuters

Dundee pair Finlay Robertson and Josh Mulligan both remain out with respective ankle and hamstring injuries.

Defender Liam Fontaine is doubtful after being substituted in the first leg against Raith with an injury and subsequently missing the second leg with the same problem. McGhee could partner Lee Ashcroft at centre-back if Fontaine is not deemed fit to play.

Paul McGowan, who made his 250th appearance for the club on Saturday, is set to keep his attacking midfield role alongside Paul McMullan, with Jason Cummings expected to lead the line up front.

As for Kilmarnock, they have no injury or suspension concerns heading into Thursday's first leg.

Wright will be relying on striker Kyle Lafferty to find the net; the 33-year-old has scored 12 goals in 10 appearances since he joined Killie in February, making him the club's top goalscorer this campaign.

Pinnock, Greg Kiltie and Chris Burke are set to provide support for Lafferty in the final third from advanced midfield positions, while Gary Dicker and Alan Power are likely to sit in deeper midfield roles protecting the back four.

Since Stuart Findlay's departure to MLS side Philadelphia Union in February, Zech Medley and Zeno Rossi have been rotated to play alongside Kirk Broadfoot at centre-back. The latter has started the last five matches in all competitions and is expected to get the nod in midweek.

Dundee possible starting lineup:
Legzdins; Elliot, Ashcroft, McGhee, Kerr; Anderson, Byrne, Adam; McMullan, McGowan; Cummings

Kilmarnock possible starting lineup:
Rogers; Millen, Broadfoot, Rossi, Waters; Power, Dicker; Burke, Kiltie, Pinnock; Lafferty

SM words green background

We say: Dundee 1-2 Kilmarnock

No team in the bottom half of the Scottish Premiership has scored more goals than Kilmarnock (41) this season, while only Hearts have scored more Championship goals than Dundee this term (52).

Both sides have also looked vulnerable defensively throughout this campaign and so goals are to be expected on Thursday evening.

The two teams take good form into the first leg, but we feel that the visitors will edge a closely-fought encounter at Dens Park.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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James McPake pictured in May 2015
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James McPake: 'Dundee are under as much pressure as Kilmarnock'
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