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Cup Fourth Round

If Sons win the Cup replay against Bonnyrigg Rose (if….) then the “reward” will be a home tie against current Cup holders Hibs.

No use us getting ahead of anything though as that’s quite a big incentive for Rose actually, as a game against Hibs would be a sort of derby for them.

Bonnyrigg Rose* 0-0 Dumbarton

Scottish Cup** Third Round, New Saunders Park, 26/11/16.

It was great to be at an old-fashioned football ground, crowd tight to the pitch, free standing, ability to walk round the ground, no segregation – and never a hint of trouble despite that. A great occasion for Bonnyrigg; as the size of the crowd testified.

But for us this was dreadful. Against a team not even in the same football system as us and therefore technically at least five levels below ours we looked as if all we intended was to avoid defeat.

Too many passes went astray, too many players were off it. Okay we were missing a few but we should still be able to go to a Junior ground and look to attack.

They had the better of the play apart from a minor flurry at the beginning of the second half. They might only have had one threatening attempt in the first half – well saved by Alan Martin but routine enough – to our three (Garry Fleming’s effort from their mistake followed by Donald McCallum’s shot on the rebound, both well saved by their keeper, then Don’s attempt to dig out the ball after the keeper spilled a cross) but they had most of the play.

We looked comfortable enough defending – except for corners and free-kicks and a wonderful Alan Martin reflex save from one of those – but we ourselves only had a looping header on target in the second half.

Quite why Don was on from the start when they had two big central defenders who could head the ball all day is beyond me. Robert Thomson at least won a few when he came on, we might have made something of that if he had started and Don could have come on to run at them towards the end. Not that they looked lacking in fitness. The game could have gone on till next Tuesday and no goals would have been scored.

A replay is the last thing we needed; especially in the week running up to our encounter with Hibs at Easter Road. On this evidence we could go into that game out of the Cup.

*According to their website the home club’s full name is Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic.
**William Hill Scottish Cup

Scottish Cup Opponents

In the Third Round of the Scottish Cup Sons have been drawn to play Bonnyrigg Rose at New Dundas Park, Bonnyrigg on 26th November.

This will be the first time we have played a junior team in the Cup. It will be tricky as they are bound to be very up for it. Even more so considering we haven’t won an away match for nigh on a year.

They beat the Highland League champions in the last round which attests to their abilities.

I’ve got a bad feeling about this…..

Dundee United 2-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Tannadice Park, 22/10/16.

This was an unusual occurence. The last time I was at Tannadice to see the Sons (or at all) was over thirty years ago. (We did play there in the 1995-6 season but I didn’t go. A combination of the fact that that was during the time where we went a whole year without a win and my family was quite young.)

The end result was the same. We still haven’t won in Dundee since 1958.

They had a beginning flurry – Alan Martin with a superb double save – then we had a great chance, Garry Fleming stabbing the ball from close in but the keeper made a great save. Then Robert Thomson sent a header towards the post area which the keeper again clawed away and David Smith couldn’t connect properly with a ball that came to him after a corner. Martin again did the needful to keep out a free-kick.

The best bit about the first half was the seethe from the home support at their forwards continually being flagged offside. With their pace there was no need to even be close to an offside position.

At half-time I was slightly disappointed that we weren’t ahead.

The blows came equally spaced around the hour mark. Mark Docherty misjudged a header from a corner and it flew into the net. Their second was also from a corner. Our players were slightly late to react to Willo Flood running up from his halfway line. His free header across goal was turned goalwards but Alan Martin saved it. Unfortunately the rebound fell to one of them who couldn’t miss.

Despite a two goal lead they still couldn’t make any impact on us from open play. We did though, sub Andy Stirling’s cross deflecting to a perfectly placed Robert Thomson to bundle the ball below the keeper. They looked a bit nervous after that but we couldn’t make any more clear chances. Even so Sam Stanton was obviously held back when going through but no free-kick was forthcoming. Not the only odd decision by the ref in the game.

So our players scored two goals, theirs one. We scored from open play they didn’t. The team performance was good but we shouldn’t beat a team like Dundee United at their place. Still, it felt like at least a point lost.

Raith Rovers 3-2 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Stark’s Park, 24/9/16.

What an odd game. We started brightly enough then fell right out of it. They missed two great chances, one pulled wide when it looked easier to score then Alan Martin made a great save on a one-on-one after a short pass back.

But it was only delayed. We were opened up far too easily and the lad put it into the corner. We could have equalised when a throw-in got all the way through to Daniel Harvie but he could not control the bounce off his body and the ball looped over the bar.

Their second was again too easily created but the deflection was cruel to Alan Martin. We were so out of it I said, “We’re not coming back from this.” Their third was unsavable. The scorer was given too much space and simply belted it from a distance. It struck the post before nestling. “We’re definitely not coming back from this.”

Stevie Aitken made two subs at half time, Josh Todd for Craig Pettigrew and Sam Stanton for Andy Stirling. Robert Thomson had a neat back-heel that was cleared off the line but it wasn’t till Ryan Stevenson came on for Garry Fleming that we got presence in midfield. Stevenson it was who reduced the deficit when finally he took the responsibility for a shot that everybody else in the move had shunned. Consolation only I thought but somehow we managed to score again, a bit of pinball in their box ended by Robert Thomson but don’t ask me how as we Sons fans were up in the gods in the angle of the main stand about as far away from the goal at the north end as it is possible to get. For a few seconds I wasn’t even sure the ref had given it.

So, a drubbing ended up adding only one to our minus goal difference. We need to start playing (for which read defending) before going three goals down.

We’re now second bottom – and we won’t get any points next week. League leaders Queen of the South are at the Rock and notwithstanding the result there last time our record at home against them is awful.

And Lo! It Came to Pass

Once again our acquaintance with the Challenge Cup (now known as the Irn Bru Cup) has taken the briefest of forms.

Sometimes prediction is just so easy.

Falkirk 1-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Falkirk Stadium, 27/8/16.

Since I made my way up from Dumfries and Galloway where we’ve been for the past couple of days (yes, photos of deco buildings and of War Memorials were taken) I got held up at the roadworks on the M74 and as a result missed baout fifteen minutes of this. It seems we had a chance or two in that time but all I witnessed was Falkirk dominating possession – due mainly to our giving it away – for the rest of the first half. Alan Martin had two magnificent reaction saves in that time or else we’d have been right out of it.

The second half meandered along and we only really looked under threat when a header from a corner hit the bar and went over. Nevertheless we were defending for the most part, again losing the ball too easily or giving it away but a great passing move between Ryan Stevenson, Robert Thomson and Josh Todd carved out a chance which Todd couldn’t get past Danny Rogers in the home goal.

Sub Andy Stirling put in a great cross which Robert Thomson couldn’t quite get on the end of (and a later one which someone ought to have anticipated falling at the back post but no one did.)

We might have held out for the draw but the replacement of Stevenson by Darren Barr seemed to disrupt our organisation temporarily and they managed to get a man over in the box with only four minutes to go. Cruel.

I suppose Falkirk deserved the points on pressure and possession but our defence, where Mark Docherty was outstanding at centre-half,* didn’t deserve that.

Three of the five teams we’ve yet to play are at the top of the league, and unbeaten. It’s going to be tough again.

*Edited to add. Having looked at Sons TV’s footage of the game unfortunately he was the one playing their scorer onside for the goal.

Irn Bru Cup

I see our Irn Bru Cup (once known as the Challenge Cup) fate has been settled.

Stanraer away.

Since no-one can remember the last time we beat Stranraer (and in recent encounters we’ve made a habit of going two goals up against them but still losing in the end) and our record in this competition is shocking in the extreme there’s no reason to expect we’ll be in the next round.

Dunfermline Athletic 4-3 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, East End Park, 6/8/16.

The main positive about this is that the goal difference isn’t as bad as it might have been.

The writing was on the wall early as Dunfermline were awarded a penalty after a frankly ridiculous, totally unneccessary, challenge by Ryan Stevenson. Thankfully the boy hit it against the post and it screwed out of danger. Stevenson was employed as a defensive midfielder – an utterly bizarre decision by boss Stevie Aitken. His tackling is ineffective at best and his influence as a creator was muted there. It was his free-kick that led to our first though; well-hit, it looked to be going wide but it seems their keeper knocked it out to Robert Thomson who did the needful. We Sons fans were behind the goal up the other end so the view wasn’t the best.

Step up new goalkeeper Alan Martin who made a magnificent point blank save from a header. The inevitable was only delayed though and a passing move cut us wide open. Their second saw three defenders attempt to block the shot but it was delayed and as a result they weren’t in position to deal with the final effort. Their corners in the first half gave me constant frights. Martin seems very reluctant to control his penalty box in such situations, leaving the ball to defenders to deal with. One such resulted in a goal-line clearance having to be made by a header. His kicking could also be improved but overall he’s not in the Mark Brown class of potential calamity. Nevertheless we managed to survive till half-time.

Things were going okay second half with Dunfermline not making too much of their possession bar a header Martin had to save. Then came the fatal blow. Martin didn’t punt a pass-back but instead played it to Frazer Wright. Fraz was clearly not fully fit, limping his way through the game even in the first half. I had noticed this at the Dundee game.

Anyway his attempt to pass to Gregor Buchanan was scuffed straight to an attacker who didn’t fail to make the most of it. Ryan Stevenson was then subbed by Donald McCallum before Fraz made way for Mark Docherty who immediately showed he was not yet up to the pace of the game and lost out to an attacker with the result the game was over at 4-1.

Except curiously it wasn’t. Young Donald was a bright spark up front and was unlucky to have a neat flick blocked otherwise he’d have scored. We suddenly had a lot of possession and in injury time were awarded a penalty (which I’m convinced would not have been given if the score had still been close.) Mark Docherty put it away well. Then less than a couple of minutes later we had another when Robert Thomson – who’d been manhandled all game – was wrestled over in the area. Again Sparky beat the keeper.

So in the end a potentially bad defeat turned into a close defeat. But….. There’s an awful lot of work needed in defence (and defensively in midfield) to get us anywhere near where we need to be.

Dundee 6-2 Dumbarton

Scottish League Cup*, Dens Park, 23/7/16.

Wew were impressive in the first half and dominated it apart from a brief interval when they scored a silly free kick to give away at the edge of the box which Mark Brown flapped at.

Robert Thomson held the ball up well and generally looked lively, Ryan Stevenson and Andy Stirling combined well down the left hand side. We played some good stuff. The equaliser followed a cleared corner back out to Ryan Stevenson whose first time cross was headed back across to Robert Thomson (maybe a shade offside) who was under pressure but stooped to head the ball down and Frazer Wright (there’s a novelty; Frazer Wright!) bundled it over the line. The keeper clawed it out and we thought it hadn’t been given at first but the linesman had spotted it as over. The second had parallels a Robert Thomson headed effort had crossed the line – just) before it was cleared. I couldn’t actually see the shot as the guy in front had jumped up to claim the goal and obscured the ball. I just saw it travel into the net. It was soon obvious Gregor Buchanan had hit the shot.

Second half was a totally different story. Dundee looked much sharper and we barely got a kick. Their equaliser was offside though and their third came fom a free-kick that certainly wasn’t a foul – but it was coming. Mark Brown had made a great double save somewhere around there to keep us just about in it but it only delayed things. The last three they just walked through us.

On the first half performance we might just be able to compete this season. On the second we definitely won’t.

*Now the Betfred Cup.

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