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Alloa Athletic 0-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Recreation Park,1 6/12/14

A welcome win – second away win in a row – an even more welcome clean sheet, and breathing space between us and eighth place.

We could have gone behind early on as Alloa hit the post and the ball screwed back across the goal to go out for a goal-kick. Danny Rogers also had a good save with his legs in the first half. The only goal came from the aftermath of a corner which was cleared out to Mitch Megginson who spurned the obvious ball back out to Scott Agnew and advanced to cross the ball for Andy Graham to nod it to Chris Kane. That close in and in space Chris doesn’t miss.

Kaneo could have had a hat-trick in this game as he went close several times in the second half but mostly from outside the box. Jordan Kirkpatrick, on as sub for Chris Turner, had a fine strike saved by the keeper.

But I spent most of the second half looking at my watch as we didn’t really show any sign of putting the game away and Alloa had a lot of the ball (without, it has to be said, ever looking really dangerous) and the defence always looked vulnerable against a pacy break. It was us, not them, who looked as if we’d had a big game in midweek.

I’ll take a scrappy one-nil any day though.

1Indodrill Stadium? I think not.

Livingston 1-2 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Almondvale Stadium, 15/11/14.

Had today’s games finished at half-time Sons would be bottom of the table. Had I written this post at half-time it would contain one word: dreadful.

We simply were not in this in the first half. We couldn’t string a pass together (never mind two,) the players seemed anxious, hurried. The side was totally without shape and baggy. We had not one attempt at goal. We stood off Livi and let them play. Result 1-0 down; and nearly another. Playing 3-5-2 wasn’t helping. The players were very ill at ease with the system.

Second half we reverted to 4-4-2, with Garry Fleming up alongside Colin Rhyming Slang, and started pressing. Result; we were in the game. After what I think was our first corner of the match the ball broke to Garry Fleming who rifled it in. (One of our players had had a high boot in there somewhere so we maybe got away with that: then again for their goal one of our defenders had his shirt pulled, preventing him getting to the scorer for a block.)

Garry Fleming was also instrumental in our second with a brilliant piece of trickery to evade the defender and play the ball down the wing for Mark Gilhaney to cut it back. Mitch Megginson nearly overran the ball but stretched behind himself to control it. He still had room to take the step back, pivot and stroke the ball into the net. Couldn’t have seen this at half-time. Mitch had had a terrible game up to then. His goal seemed to galvanise him though, as he went on a good run later.

We only had two shots on target all game – and scored with them both!

I’ll take it.

Heart of Midlothian 5-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Tynecastle Stadium, 18/10/14

A curious one this. Hearts were clearly the better team – the best I’ve seen against us in years, just shading Aberdeen in the cup last season – but we didn’t deserve to lose five. On the other hand we did little in the way of attacking in the first half. Andy Graham made the Hearts keeper make a save but that was about it. We definitely miss the Chrisses, Turner and Kane.

We allowed too many crosses in and the first goal came from one of them. The penalty was a penalty. I thought Scott Linton would get to the ball but the attacker was quicker. Danny Rogers touched the ball but he was unlikely to save two inside a week. He had made a great save at 1-0 though.

Second half we came out more brightly and should have had a penalty ourselves when Mark Gilhaney was tripped in the box. For their third we back-pedalled instead of closing down and the guy tucked it away.

Garry Fleming’s goal came when Colin Rhyming Slang headered a corner back across goal from a corner and was finished very well.

Their fourth was from a corner and I was lamenting the fact that we had all eleven men within twenty five yards of our goal. Leave two up and they have to leave three back.

The last was another on the counter immediately after one of their defenders had made a block and dragged the ball with his hand; so we should have had a foul.

Still, I came away thinking we hadn’t played too badly, and not too down-hearted.

It’s a funny old game.

Hibernian 0-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Easter Road Stadium, 11/10/14

For a 0-0 this was quite entertaining. Not that either side made much in the way of chances. Hibs had a few efforts from headers in the first half which all drifted past.

In half an hour Colin Rhyming Slang had won more headers than in all the previous games I’ve seen him in – both in attack and in defence. Moreover he was getting free-kicks for the way Hibs players were challenging him. He had our nearest effort on goal in the first half too, with a looping header.

The main first half talking point was the penalty. I wasn’t sure there had even been a foul, though Andy Graham was booked for it. It certainly wasn’t a clear goal scoring opportunity as there were two Sons defenders in a position to block any shot. The taker didn’t look all that confident but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Danny Rogers did well to get down even if it was fairly poorly struck. The ball squirmed under him and almost crossed the line – but not all of it, maybe five-sixths. That means it wasn’t a goal.

In the second half two Hibs players went down in their box after they clashed heads. A bit up the park Mitch Megginson called for the trainer too. On the resumption neither Hibs player had left the field as you’re supposed to if the trainer has come on – yet Mitch had had to. What was that all about?

Hibs stepped up the pace towards the end but still couldn’t break down our defence/get past Danny Rogers, who was pretty comfortable throughout. Even if he had to tip a few long range shots over the bar his positioning was always good. He was Sons man of the match, no question; but everybody gets full marks.

It was my first look at Kieran MacDonald who came on as sub. He looked confident and attempted a dribble at one point.

Cup Luck

I see we’ve been drawn at home in the Cup.

Is this a reversion back to our usual cup draw luck? Rangers are the highest placed team (currently) we could possibly have got.

Still we beat a Tier 2 side at the same stage last year.

Tim Whalen

I have just seen on the club website the news of Tim Whalen’s death.

Though I do not recall seeing him play I’m sure I must have done as a little boy. I well remember his playing comtemporaries Hughie Gallacher, Tommy Govan and Andy Jardine though their stays at the club lasted beyond Tim’s.

Whatever, my father used to mention Tim in reverent terms and he is widely regarded as one of the club’s greats.

Tim Whalen. So it goes.

Falkirk 1-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Falkirk Stadium, 20/9/14

Sons fans gave over the first minute of this game to applause in appreciation of Kirsty Mackie, a dedicated Dumbarton fan who died unexpectedly this week. So it goes.

In many ways this was a case of getting out of jail. For at least three quarters of this game we weren’t in it. Falkirk’s players seemed to have acres of space, we didn’t seem to be pressing, our passing was woeful. Their goal followed three missed tackles, an evasion of Scott Linton that was far too easy and a cross to an unmarked man. They also hit the bar in that half and Danny Rogers had to come out quickly and spread himself well to prevent a second. Apart from that though Falkirk were pretty unimpressive.

In the second they made Danny Rogers make one more save, a blinding, twisting, reflex effort that was out of the top drawer.

Credit to manager Ian Murray, though, who made his substitutions and went for it, even to the extent of putting Andy Graham up front in the attempt to salvage a point, a tactic I’ve not seen Murray use before. (Sadly this only showed why Andy is better employed at centre half – but his presence may have been a factor in upsetting Falkirk’s defence.)

We dominated the last ten minutes and the equaliser was coming, their keeper had to make several saves and Colin Nish got just too much onto an Archie Campbell cross. The goal followed a sublime piece of footwork from Steven McDougall to get into the box and square it for Chris Kane to score yet another of his late goals.

Hibernian 3-2 Dumbarton

Scottish League Cup, Round 2, Easter Road Stadium, 26/8/14.

A case of might have been. Two-nil up with less than fifteen minutes to go you would expect not to lose; but of course we did.

The first half I thought Hibs looked sharper and more threatening but apparently we had more possession (from Boghead Ranter – about halfway down the page.) They seemed to have more space but we held them off. That is a hellish green they have for a shirt though, not Hibs-like at all.

Garry Fleming had a good game but against opponents like this his limitations were highlighted. His strengths through, particularly effort and putting himself about gave their defenders problems. Colin Nish looked more up for it than usual and came onto a game. I thought Scott Taggart was good at centre half – in the first half anyway. In the second our defence was too far away from the Dumbarton support to be sure of anything about it.

The second half was a bit different. We suddenly had a period of domination and got the goal, Scott Agnew’s corner headed back across goal by Nish and Mitch Megginson reacting quickly to hook the ball in on the volley.

The second followed another Agnew corner, again knocked back and Garry Fleming’s tenacity (He was fouled but we weren’t going to get a penalty) meant the ball rebounded to Mark Gilhaney who hit it. The ball ricocheted off at least two Hibs defenders before just crossing the line.here was some confusion for a second or two before the ref – or perhaps the linesman – gave it.

Curiously at that point – at least 25 minutes to go – some Hibs fans decided to leave!

In retrospect that goal came too early. If we had gone two up later it might have killed them. As it was they had a long time in which to come back. Nish’s substitution (by Jordan Kirkpatrick) may have been the turning point. Suddenly our one tactic for getting the ball out had gone and we were pressed back more and more. In addition we began to look tired, especially Garry Fleming whose own substitution was about ten minutes too late.

When they scored it only invited more pressure but unbelievably the second was more or less a carbon copy of the first; a cross headed in by the impressive but all but unmarked El Alagui. I don’t remember seeing a striker as good as him all last season. Ater that there was only going to be one winner – and I didn’t want it to be in extra time. One small mercy then.

Three goals lost in less than twelve minutes isn’t good, even if we were tiring against a full time team. But when we had a go at them they looked vulnerable and we showed we can score.

However, we’re losing at least three goals a game; no matter whom we play and no matter the centre back pairing.

This is beginning to look like an amalgam of the 2010-11 and 2012 -13 seasons. And beginning to feel horribly like a relegation season. Things need to change soon.

Busy, Busy

I’ve been busy on and off and haven’t had much time for blogging.

BĂȘte  cover

I’m not mentioning Saturday’s result, I’m too depressed. Just as well I didn’t make the trip. I feel I ought to turn up at Easter Road for the League Cup game though.

My latest Interzone review book has arrived. It’s Adam Roberts’s latest, BĂȘte. (It’s not that long ago I read his Jack Glass.) The review will appear in issue 255.

I think I forgot to mention issue 253 had come out.* That one has my review of Kieran Shea’s Koko Takes a Holiday.

*Edited to add. My memory is mince. I did mention it, when I reviewed the fiction in issue 250.

Raith Rovers 3-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Stark’s Park, 9/8/14

I’m still puzzling as to how we lost this. In the first half Raith weren’t in it and we had three times as many shots on target as we had in the whole of last week’s game plus an Archie Campbell cross that just evaded Colin Nish’s outstretched leg.

Mind you the day had started badly when the team appeared in the new away kit for the first time.

Raith came out a bit quicker in the second half and Danny Rogers was forced into a save from Christian Nade but still the goal when it came was a bit of a shock – a poorly defended long throw. Raith took heart and raised their game and we fell out of it. The second was a free kick on the edge of the box. I was in great line to see the wall wasn’t lined up properly and Rogers’s positioning a bit suspect.* By the time of the third we’d just gone to three at the back to chase the game and so were left exposed.

Overall our play was too narrow, with not enough thrust nor cutting edge. I can’t see us getting much playing like this. Scott Agnew’s well struck goal wasn’t much of a consolation.

We don’t do league wins in early August, though.

But that new strip is honking.

*Edited to add. I’ve just seen the video footsge on Pie and Bovril and must admit I didn’t realise Scotty Linton was on the line for the free kick. It looks like that put off Rogers jumping for it.

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