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Montrose 1-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Links Park, 3/11/18.

Well that was the shortest new manager bounce possible.

If anyone thought appointing Jim Duffy would make getting out of the mess we’re in easy this game should have disabused them of the notion. We put in a few reasonable crosses in the first half but apart from a Calum Gallagher sclaff towards the near post and a good save by the keeper from a one-on-one with Iain Russell we were pretty much toothless and didn’t improve in the second.

Not that Montrose were much better. They weren’t any more than competent. But they were competent. And they managed to score even if Chris Smith in goal really didn’t have anything to do. He had no chance with the strike – hit from much the same spot as Calum Gallagher’s effort in the first half – and the only other time he was called on was in the dying embers when we were chasing the game and left ourselves a bit short at the back and he stood up to the shot well.

So, bottom of the league.

The only way is up?

We’ll see.

Sons First Top Flight Win in Fifty Years

Someone posted a link to this on Pie and Bovril.

I didn’t know this footage existed.

Muirton Park, Perth, October 7th, 1972. St Johnstone 0-2 Dumbarton. Sons first win in the top division since 1922.

I was there!

Muirton Park is long since gone and is now the site of an ASDA store.

Long gone too are Sons’ chances of a place in the top flight. Money – or its chasing by the “big” clubs – put paid to that.

Scottish Cup Again – With a Manager!

Well this has come around reasonably quickly.

Sons face Airdrie away on November 24th in the third round.

The way things have been going, though, I don’t know that we’ll be in the fourth round draw.

Hoiwever, in other Sons news, we have a manager again. The club has appointed Jim Duffy to the post.

On the face of it his should be a safe pair of hands. I hope he brings a bit of defensive solidity with him.

His appointment sees the departure of former assistant manager Ian Durrant. Former stalwart between the sticks Jamie Ewings stays on as goalkeeping coach.

We’ll Always Have Oswestry

Sons have parted company with manager Stevie Aitken.

I can’t say it comes as a surprise. The fans forum site Pie and Bovril (aka the Pie Shop) has been alive for weeks with people clamouring either for him to resign or be sacked.

Results this season have been so disappointing, notwithstanding a long injury list, that it was almost inevitable he would have to go.

Many blamed his odd decisions for the loss in the play-off final in May and a perception that he was wedded to defensive football certainly didn’t help his cause.

He did keep us up in Tier 2 for an extra two seasons with quite a few notable wins against “big” teams and got us to the Challenge Cup final last term but again his negative approach to that game annoyed many fans.

The high point of his tenure though was the semi-final game against the New Saints at Oswestry. Being there for that was an incredible experience – even if for the first hour it felt like purgatory. Two great strikes more or less out of the blue saved us that day and rescued a poor season.

Now his tenure as manager ends even if he lasted longer than many at the Rock.

So long, Stevie, and thanks for (some of) the memories. It was time for you to go though.

Stenhousemuir 2-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Ochilview, 1/9/18.

There was a dreadful inevitability about this.

Apart from a few minutes after they equalised – when it looked like the score might be something like six each so fragile did both defences appear – we seemed mostly in control, yet without managing to create clear chances, but not quite secure at the back.

New loanee Jack Aitchison put himself about a bit and had some neat touches, it was his control and pass that set up Iain Russell for the cross which Rory Loy flicked on for Bobby Barr to score, but I suspect he found the game an eye-opener – not least in not getting free-kicks against adult defenders who disguise the foul well. Also new at centre-half Scott Allardice seemed nervy at times while midfielder Brad Spencer could be careless with his passing.

That equaliser posed several questions as to positioning, both of the defence and goalkeeper Grant Adam, whose tendency to flap at balls in the air and to slice right-footed clearances thankfully wasn’t too prominent in this game. He doesn’t get much depth on his kicks though.

Edited to add:- I’d forgotten the great pass Aitchison laid across the box for Bobby Barr in the second half. Unfortunately Barr pulled it just wide.

The real game changer was the substitution of Ryan Thomson by Ross Forbes. Okay manager Stevie Aitken did it to try to win the game and Forbes made two great passes and had a shot on goal within minutes of coming on but while Thomson hadn’t looked entirely comfortable and was on a booking he made a fair fist of right back but Spencer looked like he’d never played there in his life. Twice he was got at and we survived the resultant cross. Not the third time.

And so after five games we sit second from bottom and only off the bottom spot by goal difference. The four teams we’ve not yet faced are above us – in some cases considerably.

I do hope that once the injuries clear up things will improve but at the moment it’s looking like the last time we dropped down into Tier 3.

A straight fall into Tier 4 (which was followed by total rock bottom of that division the next season.)

This time around there isn’t the safety net of no relegation out of there.

Brechin City 3-2 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Glebe Park, 25/8/18.

OK we didn’t have our injury problems to seek – we couldn’t fill the bench yesterday – so players were shoehorned in all over the place and then we suffered two more injuries during the game.

But…

We were two goals up. And seemingly cruising.

Fair enough Brechin had more of the ball early on but they never threatened to score. Bobby Barr beat his man and slipped over a great cross which Rory Loy couldn’t put on target. Then a corner wasn’t cleared away but fell to Barr on the other edge of the box. His effort looked like a cross to me – intended for Iain Russell – but the keeper’s fingertips perhaps diverted it enough for it to make the net. Not long after Iain Russell was one-on-one but the keeper managed to get his knee to the shot.

Michael Paton had been looking comfortable enough but suddenly pulled up after a challenge clutching his hamstring. Sub 1. Ross Forbes on.

Grant Adam in goal never inspired confidence, punching balls he could easily catch and an absolute nightmare on his right foot.

At half-time Stuart Carswell came out of the dressing room to run about and stretch a bit but didn’t last long after the interval, leaving to make room for Sub 2, a trialist (Brad Spencer apparently.)

He it was who cracked in the second a bit after Iain Russell had had a headed chance from a Bobby Barr cross which maybe came a bit behind him. From there it ought to have been plain enough sailing but the ref gave them a free-kick on the halfway line for a foul that never was and they managed to score from the attack. From then on it was not comfortable watching. Our makeshift defence began to creak and bend and despite some flurries – Rory Loy having the feet taken from him in their box only for nothing to be given, Bobby Barr being cleaned out on the edge of their box, a failure to pull back the play when Iain Russell was caught after releasing the ball and absolutely clattered into the surround fence resulting in an offside goal from third sub Calum Gallagher (well taken but offside.) No goal, no free kick. The ref by this time was a joke. He’d simply stopped giving fouls for anything.

Our defence by this time had become a shambles especially when our midfielders or attackers lost possession. Brechin more or less walked through it for their last two goals, the final one way into injury time. I suppose it’s karma for our first win there last season also through an injury time goal.

Things are not looking good though.

If they don’t look up we’re heading for a relegation battle.

Even this early in the season.

The Rock From Above

Picture shamelessly stolen from Pie and Bovril, contributed by user AlwaysAPar.

Dumbarton F C’s stadium in the shadow of Dumbarton Rock:-

The Rock

East Fife 0-2 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, New Bayview*, 4/8/18.

A welcome three points and deserved in the end. It’s a long time since I’ve felt comfortable watching us protecting a lead. It didn’t seem likely they’d score once we’d gone ahead.

Having said that they ought to have scored in the first half. Their forward got more or less a free header which Grant Adam palmed away to the side but none of our defenders picked up the loose ball and the East Fife player who did looked to have an open goal after rounding Adam but didn’t pull the trigger and ended up moving across goal and having his final shot blocked.

We were pretty anonymous for the first quarter but came into the game towards half-time. Stuart Carswell picked up a clever Ross Forbes free kick on the edge of the box and forced a save then Willie Dyer’s cross from an overlap nearly went in, clipping the underside of the bar.

The second half had barely started when we went ahead from a Ross Forbes corner, Andy Dowie powering it in. The second goal was another Forbes corner but from the away end it looked like the keeper had saved Calum Gallagher’s header. The linesman and ref gave it, though, and there was no protest from the home side.

From then on we held them at bay reasonably easily. Sub Michael Paton latched on to a superb Forbes through ball, beat their keeper but the ball rebounded from the post.

Of the players new to me Cammy Ballantyne had a good spark about him at right back before going off injured and Rory Loy bristled about up front and did his share of tracking back too.

Folk round me were trying to remember the last time we’d won the first league game of a season. I realised on the way home it wasn’t that long ago, three years to be precise. We won the first two then.

Still early days though.

*Call it the Locality Hub Bayview Stadium if you must.

Spartans 0-0 Dumbarton

Scottish League Cup (Betfred Cup) Group H, Ainslie Park, 14/7/18.

And so it begins again. It only seems yesterday that we lost the play-off final yet here we are again, playing competitive football.

Well, I say competitive, but this had all the feel of a pre-season game. Given it’s mid-July and the World Cup hasn’t even finished yet that’s not so surprising.

We never looked in danger of losing a goal, though. But nor did we look much like scoring in the first half. Things improved in the second when we looked to raise the pace a bit and especially when Andy Little and Calum Callagher came on for Iain Russell and Ryan Thomson, both looking much livelier than the pair they replaced.

It was an odd sort of game not helped by the sunshine (football in Scotland isn’t meant to be played in such temperatures) and a clash between our new away strip’s red shorts and those of Spartans meaning we came out wearing the new black home shorts with the new away red shirts. We looked like a Brechin City tribute act.

And so to award the bonus point to separate drawn teams we went to a penalty shoot-out. We won. Only the second time I’ve seen us win one.

Another Sons fan gaily remarked afterwards that the last time we won a shootout (the one I saw) we went on to win the league. Early days, son. Steady on.

Still there were signs the new players were beginning to gel. I liked the fact that former (and new again) Son Ross Forbes kept demanding the ball in midfield. We also seemed to change formation a couple of times throughout the game. That’s a potentially good innovation.

And so my first visit to Ainslie Park passed off relatively quietly.

Challenge Cup Comes Round Again

June 26th and the draw for the new season’s Challenge Cup (Irn Bru Cup) has been made.

It almost seems like yesterday we travelled to McDiarmid Park for last season’s final.

I doubt we’ll be making a similar trip this season since it looks like our usual performance in this competition (a first round knockout) is on the cards again.

We’ve got Morton at home: a team against whom our record is miserable.

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