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Falkirk 2-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Falkirk Stadium, 28/8/15.

Well it seems that even watching on television I’m a jinx. After fifteen minutes it was like the bad old days were back again. Our defence looked as porous as it has for seasons now. whether this was due to the changes at the back to accommodate new signing Fraser Wright (I don’t think Scott Taggart deserved to be dropped at right back but Stevie Aitken made Darren Barr captain so presumably now has to play him) I don’t know but we didn’t look organised there to begin with.

Their first had a bit of luck what with the ricochet off Kevin Cawley and the boy hit it well. The second may have been a great strike but where was the tackling?

At least we then made more of a fist of it than in the Queen of the South game. Inevitably our goal came from a set piece. When Grant Buchanan nodded back Willie Gibson’s corner Darren Barr simply wanted it more than the defender.

Second half we seemed to have quite a lot of the ball but only forced Danny Rogers into one save from which Garry Fleming couldn’t quite hit the rebound hard enough. We might have equalised when Grant Gallagher got himself through but was pulled up for a far from obvious foul. The ref gave us a decision in somewhat similar circumstances (a bit further out from goal though) a few minutes later so that may have evened out.

There were more positives from this than from the previous game but we can’t go on giving teams two goals of a start, though.

Dumbarton 0-2 Queen of the South

SPFL Tier 2, The Rock, 22/8/15.

OK. I admit it. It’s me. I’m the jinx.*

The three games we’ve won this season I’ve not been at. The three we haven’t won, I have. (Though this was the first time I’ve seen us beaten over 90 minutes.) And Queen of the South also kept their record of never having lost a goal at the Rock.

Queens were also more than a cut above either Queen’s Park or East Fife. They never looked in danger of losing said goal. I’ve just looked at the stats and they pretty much confirmed my impression. We only threatened with a Willie Gibson free-kick which the keeper pushed round the post.

Their first goal came when Mark Docherty got done by their wide man. The cross wasn’t cut out, came right across the goal and former Son Ian Russell did what he always does against us.

The second goal killed it (but to be fair, the first one had.) We switched off at a corner kick, allowing it to be played short and a cross to come in. Keeper Mark Brown was left exposed to try to contest the ball with their forward. Brown missed, the forward didn’t.

After that it was only a case of would they increase their lead? We never looked like reducing it. Debutant loanee Scott Brown came on but didn’t have much time to influence things, plus had a few wayward passes. Maybe when he’s had time to integrate with the squad. Midfielder Jon Routledge was given Sonstrust MOM. I couldn’t disagree. But he and Kevin Cawley were the only bright sparks. Garry Fleming just doesn’t look like a centre forward. He and strike partner Steven Craig never got into the game. From what I’ve seen of us so far this season it seems we’re going to struggle to score goals apart from set pieces. We got precious few set pieces today.

The main reason I went today was to try to buy a home top from the club shop. The queue before kick-off was so long I’d have missed some of the game. There was a steward blocking access at half time. At full time there was a sign up saying the shop was shut. I came home with no new top.

*I’m thinking of giving the game at Falkirk on Friday a miss. But it’s on BBC Alba. Will watching it on the TV make a difference?

PS:- I’m sad to see from the club website that three season stalwart Andy Graham has left “by mutual consent.” I think it’s fair to say new boss Stevie Aitken didn’t fancy him as first choice centre half. Sons fans will have fond memories of Andy. In particular his performance at Pittodrie in the cup quarter-final in season 2013-4 was immense.

Queen’s Park 0-0 Dumbarton

aet 1-0. Scottish Challenge Cup, Hampden Park, 18/8/15.

Any triumphalism is now put firmly on hold.

Again we faced a lower league team packing the defence – Queen’s had six across the back at times* – again we failed to break them down.

OK, we did get a penalty right at the end of normal time but Garry Fleming blasted it over the bar.

I never at any time felt that we would lose a goal but then in the first half of extra time we did. Andy Graham dwelled too long on the ball near our penalty area and ended up losing it, leaving us undermanned at the back. The free attacker stroked the cross in.** After that we were a bit more open as we pushed up and there were a couple of close things. Our best efforts were a Willie Gibson free kick their goalie saved and a Garry Fleming effort with his right foot when his left might have been a better bet. He’s not really convincing as a centre forward.

Were the players perhaps not too bothered about this game? The league is probably more important. If so I hope they’re more focused when the Scottish Cup comes round. I wouldn’t like to see us exit that this way.

This was my first view of the revamped Hampden; a vast bowl of a stadium. A weird sight indeed with its serried ranks of empty seats. The attendance was apparently 587. I had meant to take my camera but left home in a bit of a rush and forgot it. Next time we play Queen’s? (I can’t see us being back at Hampden any other way.)

*Queen’s had a player with number 10 on his back playing at centre back. This is a defilement of the spirit of football. A no 10 shirt rightly belongs to a fantasista.

**Edited to add:- The linesman put up his flag for an attacker offside (who looked to be on the bye-line from where we were) in the run-up to Andy Graham losing the ball. For some reason the ref overruled the flag.

St Mirren 1-2 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, St Mirren Park, 15/8/15

Wow!

I’m struggling to remember when we last won our first two league games. In fact I can’t. And these two were against two of the teams expected to be in the promotion play-offs.

I wasn’t at the game as I was away down in England (hence the lateness of this posting) but it’s a cracking result.

Will we be able to keep it up?

Well, the next league game is a top of the table clash at home versus Queen of the South who just happen to have a 100% record at our new ground.

Plus there’s the small matter of a second round (be still my beating heart) Challenge Cup tie at Hampden against the other royally monickered Scottish team, Queen’s Park, tomorrow night.

Dumbarton 2-1 Hibernian

SPFL Tier 2,* The Rock,** 8/8/15.

A stunning start to the league campaign.

When was the last time we won our first league game?

And this against one of the teams fancied to be in the top two.

I wasn’t there but this is seriously encouraging.

It’ll be interesting to see how we fare against old boss Ian Murray’s St Mirren away next week.

*It’s the Ladbrokes Championship now, you know.

**The Cheaper Insurance Direct Stadium.

East Fife 1-1 Dumbarton (aet 1-1, 4-3 pens)

Scottish League Cup, New Bayview, 1/8/15.

My first match watching the new look Sons….and we’re a work in progress. Not surprising considering that only two of last year’s squad started the game. Three finished it as one had come off but two later came on.

The match was preceded by an announcement to the owner of a Vauxhall Zafira to go back to the car – not an unusual thing to hear at a football ground but the following words were. I quote. “This is Methil and you’ve left your windows open.”

The first half was pretty uneventful. We had one close effort saved by their keeper, I think from Scott Taggart. Mark Brown didn’t have a save to make. We dominated the second half apart from a few breakaways on one of which they scored. The attacker was allowed too much room and Mark Brown had come too far off his line and was lobbed. They had the ball in the net a minute or so later but it was chalked off for a foul on the defender on the way through. For about two minutes East Fife threatened but then we got on top again.

The equaliser came from Kevin Cawley, neatly placed to head home after their keeper flapped at it a bit. We had a few more efforts on goal before the 90 minutes were up.

In extra time we carved them open several times but the ball just wouldn’t go in apart from one disallowed possibly for a foul on the keeper but who knows?

The statistics tell the story really.

So it was on to the lottery of penalty kicks. You have to say, 3-2 up with two kicks to one left we ought to have put it away. But we didn’t. Time to concentrate on the league, then. (The Challenge Cup can take care of itself. It usually does.)

Hampden Here We Come!

No. It’s not an unwonted indulgence in excessive enthusiasm.

Just a second round Challenge Cup game. (That’s sufficiently rare in itself to be worth a celebration.)

Queen’s Park away on 18th or 19th August.

Morton 2-3 Dumbarton

Scottish Challenge Cup,* Round 1, Cappielow Park, 25/7/2105.

And so it begins again. Only nine months to go.

But with an unusual result. I believe this is only our fifth win in this competition in its 25 year history. Two of those were in the same season.

Looking at the team sheet there were only two starters who were at the club last season. Life in part-time football.

While it’s a bit disturbing to have a three goal lead eaten into it’s still refreshing to kick-off a season with a win.

*It’s officially the Petrofac Training Cup but that’s just too much of a mouthful.

The CID Stadium?

The club has announced a new sponsorship deal for the stadium to follow in the foosteps of the likes of Strathclyde Homes Stadium and Bet Butler Stadium – not to mention Dumbarton Community Football Stadium.

It’s now to be officially called the Cheaper Insurance Direct Stadium – which at first I gulped at thinking it was almost as much of a mouthful as any of the names Livingston’s stadium has had over the years.

However, the sponsor is a local firm run by someone who has been a Sons fan for a long time. Win-win all round.

I’ll still call it the Rock, though. (In my absent-minded moments – stop laughing back there – I sometimes still say Boghead.)

East Fife Away

Sons’ first round League Cup tie will be against East Fife at New Bayview on August 1st.

That’s like a home game for me!

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