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Hibernian 3-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Easter Road, 21/2/15.

Painful. That’s the word I would have used at half-time to describe our performance. Nothing that happened in the second half changed it.

We looked utterly toothless. Our set-up was strange (what’s new this season?) – the absence of Darren Petrie from midfield, as last week, was baffling considering his debut at Falkirk. Also not starting was new loanee Chris Duggan.

Hibs dominated throughout. While the two first-half goals came from poor defending and the third was a deflection we also had Danny Rogers to thank for good goalkeeping and that Hibs clearly relaxed and didn’t force things once the game was won.

The substitutions were odd too. Fair enough Dylan Easton being replaced by Chris Turner but why take off Mark Gilhaney rather than Archie Campbell? Gils could have taken up his usual position on the right where he is generally effective. And perhaps they ought to have been made at half-time rather than after Hibs had scored again. And Darren Petrie for Scott Linton with nine minutes to go?

It is painfully obvious that Chris Turner isn’t half the player he was in his first two half-seasons. Since his injury he’s lost pace (and that was never his strong suit) and his confidence looks shot.

This was 3-0 going on a total doing.

Before the game, considering we had lost our last two home games to Livi and Cowden, I was looking at the fixture list and wondering where the points are going to come from. After it I’m deeper in gloom than ever.

Falkirk 3-3 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Falkirk Stadium, 31/1/15.

Well, this was an odd game. I’d have taken a point before the start but didn’t think we’d even score; never mind get something out of this. What with Colin Rhyming Slang offski – apparently in the huff about not being given the vacant assistant manager’s job (though his record in charge of the under 20s was, frankly, dire) – Chris Kane back to parent club St Johnstone and Garry Fleming suspended, I couldn’t see where goals might come from, especially since that’s been our failing this season.

Unsurprisingly Falkirk had most of the early posssession but when a set piece came back out to him loanee centre back Stuart Findlay sent over a beautiful cross and Scott Taggart hit the net then 1-0 was dreamland.

It didn’t last. What felt like a minute later the ball broke to an unmarked Falkirk attacker in the box. 1-1. Then we lost the sort of goal that happens to teams in relegation bother. Two ricochets on the way through and the final shot deflected into the net off the attempted block by Findlay.

Falkirk again had most of the second half. But a Scott Linton throw-in wasn’t cleared and fell for debutant loanee Darren Petrie and he didn’t panic and slash at it, but still smashed it past the keeper.

What a difference a goal makes. Our five minute spell of ascendancy ensued and after good work on the right by Mark Gilhaney, the ball came over for Mitch Megginson to cut it back into the path of Archie Campbell who steered it into the far corner.

While we might have scored another on the break as Falkirk had to press for the equaliser and Scott Agnew did have an effort just over the bar they were always going to get one more chance. (If the ref had had his way, he said, darkly, they would have had more than one. Even a Falkirk fan on the Pie Shop said some of his decisions were plain wrong.) It duly came with ten minutes to go.

Still we rode it out and gained an unlikely point. Four attempts on goal, three on target, three goals. About time we had such a ratio.

As well as Darren Petrie – solid in midfield and took his goal very well – it was also my first view of fellow loanee Dylan Easton, who runs about a bit like Josh Falkingham but has none of that player’s irritating qualities. Dylan had a tendency to over-elaborate but had confidence, dig, some sublime touches and is capable of the superb pass.

All in all I’m much more relaxed than I was this time last week in the wake of the home thumping by Livingston, not least because of the dumping of the 3-5-2 for this game in favour of 4-2-2 (or was it 4-4-1-1 or 4-5-1?)

Raith Rovers 2-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Stark’s Park, 17/1/15

If you had told me at half-time that we would come near to taking a point out of this game I would have laughed. We were woeful. No oranisation, no bite, no shape, no nothing. All we had to show for it was a couple of long-range efforts from Garry Fleming. We badly missed Chris Kane up front. There wasn’t even Colin Rhyming Slang – on the bench throughout – to contest (contest?) for the ball. Though new loanee Stuart Findlay looked good, reasonably quick and comfortable on the ball. I think we were supposed to be playing 3-5-2 but it was all over the place really and they were able to get in behind us too easily.

Chris Turner had probably his worst game for us that I have seen. He’s not the player he was last season. It was his clumsy challenge that gave away the penalty and he simply wasn’t up to speed all game. There doesn’t seem to be anybody in the squad to allow him a rest what with the injuries to Jordan Kirkatrick and Mark Gilhaney.

Having said all that, Raith ought to have put us away. They didn’t and instead of going for the jugular second half opted for containment and hitting on the break. As a result we came into it. We actually looked like a team and had several Scott Agnew efforts for encouragement. One of those was parried by the keeper and Mitch Megginson pounced to score the rebound. A few minutes later the keeper spilled a cross under pressure from Garry Fleming and Mitch had a gaping goal, easier than the one he scored. He hit it too hard and it went over, off the bar. In stoppage time their keeper made a great save and in the subsequent passage of play a defender headed it off the line. On another day…..

Then again, Raith had missed a golden opportunity earlier in the half on one of their breaks upfield and also hit the post but a symptom of Raith’s second half approach was that even at 2-0 they had started time wasting.

Archie Campbell, despite his pace, doesn’t look the answer to our striking deficiencies.

Improvement next week is vital. Or at least to play for the whole game the way we played in the last twenty minutes yesterday.

Cowdenbeath 1-3 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Central Park, 27/12/14.

A good and well deserved three points. We pretty much dominated this game and ought to have had it put to bed in the first half but all we had to show at the interval was a wonderful finish from Colin Rhyming Slang. Yes, you read that correctly. He had earlier blistered a shot just wide. He was having a good game.

Our line-up was a bit odd seeming with Archie Campball in for Mitch Megginson on the right and Garry Fleming playing wide left.

I thought our failure to put more than one away would come back to haunt us when we allowed them more possession in the second half and they duly scored. Danny Rogers saved their only other chance soon after but then we scored – from a corner! – Lee Mair heading in Scott Agnew’s delivery, though Sons fans were so far away in the corner of the old stand that no-one was really sure who the scorer had been until the internet was checked!

Then the clincher. Chris Kane (who had a poor game by his standards) was put in behind the defence by Colin Rhyming Slang’s pass, tripped by the defender and even though he was heading away from goal the ref gave a red card. Sons fans had the perfect angle to see Garry Fleming’s bullet head for the net. Unstoppable. It was almost a carbon copy of Gylfi Sigurdsson’s goal for Swansea on Boxing Day except the keeper didn’t take a step to his right first.

There were two more notable Colin Nish efforts, one hitting the post, and we had chances beyond that as the ten men struggled a bit to contain us but the ball wouldn’t go in.

Sixth at the New Year. That’s more than acceptable.

Dumbarton 0-3 Falkirk

SPFL Tier 2, The Rock, 20/12/14.

I wasn’t at the game but witnessed it via BBC Alba.

I needn’t have bothered. We didn’t turn up for the first half and should have been down by more than one goal at half time. With Mark Gilhaney and Chris Turner missing from the starting line-up we were short in midfield. The only spark at all was, as usual, Chris Kane – and we won’t have him in the New Year.

Once Chris Turner replaced Steven McDougall for the second half things improved but we never really tested their keeper. When the second went in and David van Zanten was taken off for Archie Campbell I knew Falkirk would score again… and they did.

And…. Did Scotty Linton even get a kick of the ball after coming on for Mitch Megginson? I don’t think Archie touched it either and he was on the pitch for longer.

I hope things are better at Central Park next Saturday.

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.

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