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Dunfermline Athletic 0-3 Cowdenbeath (agg 1-4)

SPFL Tier 2 Play-off Final, second leg, East End Park, 18/5/14

A feast of televised football all round this week, this one courtesy of BBC Alba – as indeed was Sons win in the corresponding play-off two years ago.

I missed the first goal (I switched on in time to see the different angle replays) as I had been putting up towel rails and mirrors to amke the new place seem a bit more homely and less stark. The good lady said it was like a sensory deprivation house when we moved in, all white walls and nothingness.

Dunfermline had their keeper to thank for only being one down at half time as he made two very good saves in that time. Dunfermline had a lot of the ball but didn’t do much with it. The same pattern prevailed in the second half; really the home team only had two long range efforts on goal in the whole game. Cowdenbeath always looked sharp on the counter attack but their second came from a corner that wasn’t cleared properly. A mistake by Josh Falkingham (you shouldn’t laugh, really you shouldn’t) let Cowden in for their third and it was game over.

Cowdenbeath were pretty impressive, I don’t remember them being as good the two times I saw them live this season. Maybe we didn’t let them play.

But two other part-time teams in the division gives the Sons a more than fighting chance of staying up again, which is what I’d settle for right now.

Dundee 2-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Dens Park, 3/5/14.

Well, that was a strange experience. To see ten thousand opposition fans go from expectation to apprehension to joy then all the way over to fear was something.

It says a lot about our commitment that Dundee spent the last five or so minutes taking the ball to the corner flag.

We had the better of the game – without creating a clear-cut chance – until they scored. Once again our inability to deal with crosses cost us. Their scorer, Nade, was the best player on the park, though, I thought. Maybe Jamie Ewings could have made a better fist of the attempted save but the Dumbarton fans were way up the far end of the ground so it’s hard to tell. It was poor defending for their second too but Jamie had no chance with that one. A Colin Rhyming Slang flick had hit the post in between times but that was as good as it got first half.

Sons fans kept chanting out updates to the Hamilton score – among other gems like, “you only sing when you’re winning,” and, “we forgot that you were here.” A bit like the Aberdeen game.

Second half we pushed them really hard, got the penalty and scored it. There followed two more even better penalty claims after the first of which I said to Big Rab, “We’re never gonna get two today.” That just doesn’t happen to a wee club on a day like yesterday. Their keeper still had to make two great saves to gain them the points though. All this wa sup the far end so I wasn’t quite sure who had the efforts on goal.

Around this time the young Sons choir started singing, “We can smell the shite from here,” at the opposition fans’ discomfort.

There was no barrier at all to the pitch at the stand opposite us. We all knew there was no chance of the invasion not happening at the end. Two other home stands’ occupants also rushed on at the final whistle. For a moment I feared for our players’ safety but they all made it okay. Ian Murray made sure they didn’t run up the tunnel immediately but stayed to congratulate the fans (who reciprocated.) There were several hundred at least of us there yesterday, a good turn out for a nothing game for us.

It was weird to witness such outpourings of relief and joy and not feel a part of it. I’ve been at another side’s promotion winning game before when we were the away team (vs Raith in the 1980s, Dunfermline lost unexpectedly in their game the same day) and it was a very detached feeling then too.

So. We ended the season fifth, with a positive goal difference. I can’t believe it’s over so soon.

Dumbarton 4-1 Airdrie Utd

SFL Div 1, The Rock, 20/4/13

Tantalising. Six points ahead two games to go.

I wasn’t there but it sounds like it was a comprehensive victory.

Unfortunately the result at East End Park today was the only one of the three possibilities which meant our win still didn’t mean we’d certainly avoid the play-offs.

A point from Cowdenbeath next week does the job and guarantees us seventh. Even a defeat will see us safe if Dunfermline fail to beat Partick Thistle. Heady days.

‘Mon the Sons.

Update

I’ve been away (again.)

That’s why I didn’t mark the fact that on Tuesday night, due to Airdrie United’s defeat at Hamilton, we could not be automatically relegated this season. The worst that can now happen is that we will be involved in the play-offs.

This is what most Sons fans (in a spirit of realism) would have settled for before the season started. That we are in a position to stay in Div 2 without the benefit of the play-offs is testament to the remarkable efforts of the players (and the new manager since he was appointed.) This would be the case even without Dunfermline’s points deduction.

To be certain of survival a couple more wins might still be required, though.

Dunfermline Athletic 3-4 Dumbarton

SFL Div 1, East End Park, 23/3/13

Astonishing!

The scale of this result can be measured by the fact that Dunfermline had won their last 12 games against us and we hadn’t won at East End Park since 1986.

1-0 down at halftime I couldn’t see it coming. We weren’t 2-0 down long enough for me to be too despondent but at 3-1….?

Fortunately Chris Turner hit an absolute belter to make it 3-2 almost straight afterward and that sowed seeds of doubt in the home team.

We actually had a good first ten minutes but fell out of it for the rest of the half apart from Chris Turner having an effort chalked off for offside. I was in line and he looked OK to me. Not the last time the linesman was to be derided.

Their first goal came from when Nick Phinn was pushed off the ball in our half and they ran up and scored. Stephen Grindlay seemed to be beaten very easily.

Their second was dreadful defending. Their forward went through about three half-arsed tackles before hitting it in the corner.

Two minutes later a great passing move saw the ball hit across goal by Paul McGinn and Steven McDougall was free just beyond the back post to score our first against Dunfermline this season.

This was immediately after Jim Lister had come on for Nick Phinn. He made a difference. The home centre backs knew they were in a game then.

Their third was a joke. The through ball that led to it saw two Dunfermline players offside both of whom subsequently touched it, one playing it forward to another while both were well beyond the defenders. The linesman’s flag stayed resolutely down. He made gestures to suggest a defender was playing them on on the far side. Utter rubbish. The rest of the match was filled with Dumbarton fans shouting at him and raising ironic cheers when he finally did flag someone offside. (It’s what we pay our money for.)

The equaliser came from a defender dwelling on the ball and Jim Lister chasing him down, he then picked out Scott Agnew with a cut back, not the more obvious ball across the box. Aggie finished cleverly back the way it had come. Dreamland.

It then got better.

Our fourth was another intricate passing move finished off by Steven McDougall, calmness personified in the box, beating his man before slotting it past Paul Gallacher.

Dunfermline pressed for the few minutes remaining but we always managed to get bodies in the way or tackles in.

Up to today we had only 4 points out of the last 21 and the Murray magic seemed to have gone. Now it’s 7 out of the last 24. Even with Dunfermline’s troubles this must give the lads great confidence.

Games come thick and fast now, starting at home on Wednesday, then two in a row at Hamilton.

Edited to add:- Chris Turner was lucky to stay on the field after his deliberate hack at Josh Falkingham. I know Falkingham’s an annoying wee so-and-so but serious foul play is serious foul play no matter who it’s committed against.

Dumbarton 2-0 Partick Thistle

SFL Div 1, The Rock, 12/1/13

Hurray! A home win in the league!

Boo! Dunfermline allowed Airdrie Utd to beat them.

You can’t rely on anyone these days.

Dumbarton 0-1 Dunfermline Athletic

SFL Div 1, The Rock, 5/1/13

Normal service resumed?

Well a one goal defeat where we’ve only lost that one goal isn’t normal for this season. It’s only the third time we’ve lost fewer than two in a league game. (The two others were won with a clean sheet.)

Onwards:- and upwards?

Dunfermline Athletic 4-0 Dumbarton

SFL Div 1, East End Park, 24/11/12

I was going to say no complaints, but…. see below.

I was going to say the better team won but… the faster, stronger, fitter team won. Does that make them better? I suppose it does. They were in the Premier last season after all and we were in Div 2.

We were okay for a while; even forcing their keeper to make more saves than Stephen Grindlay had up till their first goal. I was in line and thought Josh Falkingham was offside but he was also totally unmarked. The game was then effectively all over.

I shouldn’t have said to GordyBrow when the teams were announced that they hadn’t given Josh Falkingham’s full name. He replied, “I suppose that’s ‘diver’ followed by something rude.” I said, “Yes.”

The second goal was a joke. James Creaney failed to cut out a ball to the winger and then the cross wasn’t collected by Grindlay – he’s always been terrible for spilling low crosses – and came off Andy Graham’s leg to screw towards the line. He just failed to clear it before it crossed. Exactly the sort of thing that happens to you when you’re way adrift at the bottom of the league.

So here’s the complaint. In the second half I’d thought it was Falkingham who ran through one on one with Stephen Grindlay, pushed the ball past him and fell down. From where I was it certainly looked a dive. Falkingham is famous for it. It turns out it was Joe Cardle who couldn’t stay on his feet. Whoever, the ref gave the penalty and showed Grindlay a red card to boot. Down to ten men and a penalty to come…

I say again; when a penalty is given, in what sense has a goal scoring opportunity been prevented? A penalty and a red card and a goal is a triple punishment. Too many times does something like this spoil a game. It didn’t affect the outcome here, Dunfermline were always going to win, but often it can.

Jim Lister was withdrawn to allow Jamie Ewings to face the pen which he almost got to. 3-0 down with ten men against the joint league leaders was only going to end one way.

Curiously we played better after that. Onebrow opined Dunfermline had stopped playing. But we were left cruelly exposed whenever we sallied upfield.

Their fourth was a peach. Due to the man shortage Joe Cardle was one on one on Nicky Devlin with no extra cover, duly took it past him and curled a beauty behind Jamie Ewings into the corner.

It seems we don’t have the personnel to compete effectively against the better teams in this division. (And the not so good teams too?) There was a litany of weak challenges, hurried touches, misplaced passes and stretched interceptions. The players appear shorn of confidence, not wanting to take time on the ball. Chris Turner was an exception to this last, as was Steven McDougall when he came on (but like at Cowdenbeath he carried it too far and was crowded out.)

Ian Murray’s got a big job on.

Dumbarton 0-2 Dunfermline Athletic

SFL Div 1, The Rock, 15/9/12.

Again I wasn’t there but on the face of it this is an improvement. We didn’t lose our customary three goals.

But we’re still on course for a goal difference of -108. And very few goals scored.

I didn’t expect a result from this one though.

We can always hope for something to turn up. But if it doesn’t soon we’ll need to get used to being known as Dumbarton nil.

Administering Rangers

Whatever the temptations to paraphrase Oscar Wilde’s comment about the death of Little Nell in Charles Dickens’s The Old Curiosity Shop (“One would have to have a heart of stone….(not to)…dissolv(e)…into tears…of laughter.”) when thinking about the administration of Rangers FC I nevertheless do feel for the genuine fans of that club. Not the hangers-on, not the glory hunters who desert at the first sign of adversity on the field, but those who have a long and deep connection – perhaps going back generations in their family.

There does, however, have to be a tinge of schadenfreude. After all, this is a club that, along with its great rival, has parleyed their mutual financial muscle into an effectively unchallenged dual hegemony, ruthlessly bought promising players from their competitors in the SPL (and before that the Scottish League as was) and buried them in their reserves to prevent any threat to their domination, pushed through changes that ensured they would receive much more than the lion’s share of any monies coming into Scottish football, perenially exercised undue influence on the governing body and (without even a nod and a wink nor anything direct, merely by their outsized prominence) on the referees who supervise their games. That such a club has been brought low by financial problems (in a misguided attempt to match those whom they regarded as their peers but were in fact always their superiors) could be regarded as karma.

I have no sympathy whatever for those in charge of the club – now and in the past – who ought to have known better: none of whom I hope will derive any financial benefit from the present state of affairs. Compounding their failures in regard to their own club – what amounted to in effect cheating their opponents – £80,000 is said to be owing to Dunfermline Athletic for tickets sold by Rangers on their behalf for Saturday’s upcoming game with a similar amount due to Dundee United for a previous away match, with Inverness Caledonian Thistle also unpaid. Hearts are owed £700,000 for a transfer fee. These are moneys the Pars in particular and Hearts with their recent difficulties could well be doing with. (Not to mention us all by way of the taxman.)

That Scottish football as a whole would be better off (in a competitive sense) without the Old Firm is probably the case but it would be in an even direr state than now were only one of these giants to remain.

And yet…. I do not wish to see the demise of anyone’s football club – even such an overblown leviathan as Rangers; even if I cannot feel that followers of Rangers know what it truly means to be a supporter (of which they may have the merest inkling now.)

The best outcome would be for the club to survive, to live within its means, and for its management (at board level) and fans not to be so greedy (for money/honours respectively.)

That’s never going to happen.

PS. I was amused that Celtic took umbrage at First Minister Alex Salmond’s comment about them finding it difficult to prosper if Rangers were to go under. Chip on the shoulder or what? Without the rivalry to sustain them wouldn’t Celtic’s fans soon grow tired of an endless series of mismatches? They might well drift away. At least at the moment there are four domestic games every season where there may be the possibility of referees being biased against them. (That last sentence was sarcasm by the way.)

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