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Morton Up First

I see from the club’s website that Sons first game of the new season will be away to Morton. The game is scheduled for Saturday 26th July; less than a month away.

Unlike the last two seasons we haven’t been drawn against Stranraer. I had half expected us to get St Mirren since Ian Murray has gone to manage there.

The second round is due on 19th or 20th August. I don’t suppose we’ll be interested in that one.

League Fixtures 2015-16

The full list has been posted on the club’s website.

Those first four look awkward; though maybe Queen of the South will not be as good as the past two seasons. But our home record against them is mince. I believe they haven’t ever lost to us at the Rock.

The run-in’s not too bad, the away game at Ibrox perhaps excepted. Will the last game – at Alloa – be crucial?

Ben Lomond From Dumbarton Football Stadium

A snow-capped Ben Lomond on 2/5/2015. Photographed from stand of Dumbarton Football Stadium. Ben Lomond is the only Munro I have climbed. (I say climbed. There’s a path. You can walk up it.)

Ben Lomond From Dumbarton Football Stadium

On the same day and from the same location I took this photo of Sons players applauding the fans after the last game of the season vs Raith.

End of Season Farewell

Most of these players have now left the club.

Final Place Confirmed

So. Motherwell it was who stayed up. Convincingly in the end.

Tier 2 is going to be very tough again next season. There’ll be two of the biggest supported clubs in Scotland in Hibs and Rangers (having now found out for themselves that this division is devilishly difficult to escape in an upwards direction: can it be long before noises are made to increase the size of Tier 1? Or is that too cynical?) Also there will be six other full-time teams and an Alloa Athletic seemingly somewhat revived by new(ish) manager Danny Lennon. Eighth for the Sons would be a magnificent achievement. I’d take that right now.

We’ve got a new manager ourselves of course.

But I’m feeling nervous already.

Tier 1 Play-off

At time of writing it looks as though Motherwell, after their 3-1 victory in the first leg of the play-off, will retain their top level status at the expense of Rangers.

Chickens should not be counted, however. Last year Hamilton were 2-0 behind in the tie after losing at home, the same total deficit as Rangers face now, but still won through by beating Hibs by the same score at Easter Road and then winning the penalty shoot-out.

While an overall Motherwell win would be a poke in the eye for those who feel a sense of entitlement rather than realising that they follow just another (at present not very good) team and it has been amusing to see Rangers not scooshing this division the way they did the lower two, my own preference would be for Rangers to prevail – but this is only for somewhat selfish reasons as it would avoid the possibility of them winning the Tier 2 title next season (or the year after?) and thus robbing Dumbarton of the unique distinction of having won championship titles at four different levels of Scottish football.

Quick Appointment

Sons new manager has been appointed very quickly.

On the face of it, it’s a good move. Stephen Aitken has a good track record with Stranraer, helping them to promotion from the bottom division and consolidating their position in Tier 3 where they have finished third and second in the past two seasons. And in Stephen Farrell he has an assistant: something the club has been working without for a while.

Only time will tell whether it’s been too hasty but there was a need to set things moving with very few players signed up so far for next season. He ought to have good knowledge of the lower divisions and of players there who may be capable of the step up.

Interesting Times

I’ve been away for a few days and took the oportunity for a rest from the internet.

As a result it was only today I found out Sons manager Ian Murray has resigned and will take up the manager’s job at St Mirren.

This is not entirely an unexpected development; I knew he had been interviewed for his new post.

Whatever, Ian Murray will always be remembered fondly for turning round our first season in the second tier for over 25 years, leading us to 5th (17th in Scotland) in the next – not to mention a Cup quarter final – and consolidating us in the season just gone. Any good wishes will be tempered by the hope we thump his new team when we meet them in the season to come.

So will this mean a new dawn or the end of the recent good times? Can a new manager take us on any further or will we be returning to the struggles of the lower divisions?

In many ways this comes at a bad time. Only three players are signed up for next season. Planning for it will of necessity be delayed while the club seeks someone to fill the position.

Interesting – and worrying – times.

Dumbarton 2-2 Raith Rovers

SPFL Tier 2, The Rock, 2/5/15.

Not bad for an end of season game with nothing riding on it (except pride, players’ contracts, points and the money that comes with them.)

The first half was pretty uneventful till Garry Fleming hit the post with a shot from just outside the box. It rebounded, hit the goalie’s back and fell into the path of Jordan Kirkpatrick who tucked it away. Raith came into it more towards the end.

In the second half Raith equalised when they cut their way right through our defence and the forward finished very tidily.

Beyond feeling the cold I hadn’t much noticed the wind in the first half but it badly affected Danny Rogers’s kicking from the outset of the second. This culminated when he hit the ball straight to a Raith player who promptly chipped it back over him into the net in a great finish. Rogers’s kicking is a major weakness in his game.

Raith were on top but things chnaged when young Donald McCallum came on for Jordan Kirkpatrick. The goal stemmed directly from McCallum skipping past the full back. His cross was headed straight to Scott Agnew who performed that rarity scoring with his right foot.

Ryan Clark got a few minutes on the pitch too. He had a strong run ended by a cynical clip on his heels. Welcome to the adult game, son.

So the season ends on a slightly less gloomy note after five losses in a row. How easy it’s going to be to keep the club’s best part-time team in Scotland tag next season is anyone’s guess. With Livingston’s great escape on Saturday there will be a maximum of one other such club in our league for 2015-16. I suspect the manager may move on soon; he’s already lasted longer than most Sons bosses of recent times. I’d take eighth place right now, before a ball is kicked.

Alloa Athletic 3-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Recreation Park*, 11/4/15.

Well it was only fair. We rolled over to Cowdenbeath last week so to give Alloa the same courtesy this, seems equitable.

So many things pointed to this result. They had a new manager. They hadn’t beaten us for fifteen games. They needed the points and we didn’t.

Yet the only difference in the first half was that their shots were on target and ours went just past the post – though our best was screwed well wide by Archie Campbell. We had more attempts in the first half than they did, their second goal wasn’t even a chance really but their two goals were both wonder strikes, one from a free-kick (the ref did not give us one in a similar incident and realtive position later in the half) but the other ought to have been closed down.

The second half was a bit meh. Their goal came after one of their players seemed to handle the ball on the halfway line but Danny Rogers ought to have made sure to get the ball when coming out for it rather than let the attacker lift it over him to leave an empty net.

As last week there weren’t many positives to take from this.

Our season now looks in danger of petering out but I suppose the players will be up for next week’s game against Rangers.

Despite us losing here, Cowdenbeath’s failure to win against Livingston means we cannot be caught for 7th place. Scotland’s best part-time team again!

*I will never think of it as the Indodrill Stadium.

Cowdenbeath 3-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Central Park, 4/4/15

Well this was dire. We started brightly enough but Mark Duggan flicked out at a cross instead of meeting it and could only just get his head to a rebound but was unable to turn it in. We then fell out of it.

Three at the back just didn’t work for us even though Andy Graham did a good impression of an attacking left back for a while.

They scored just before half time when the ball came back up after they had pushed three men up on our back three while we had the ball but lost it and others broke too. When Danny Rogers parried the first effort about three of theirs were on hand to tap in.

The second just after the break was almost a carbon copy. Again Rogers parried the ball but their player was again first to it.

We had lost all cohesion by the third but it has to be said the cross onto Colin Rhyming Slang’s head was a peach.

Given the relative incentives for the two teams this was always likely to be a win for Cowden but I had hoped that our safety might have produced a carefree performance rather than an error strewn one. (Though the pitch didn’t help with the errors: but the pitch was the same for both sides.) Maybe if we had scored first….

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