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Brechin City 1-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Glebe Park, 12/1/19.

I’ve the feeling we’re doomed.

This was a mustn’t lose.

We lost it.

That we ought not to have lost it is neither here nor there. If we can lose to a team as abject as Brechin things are beyond bad.

Okay, extenuating circumstances, we had only three subs on the bench – only two outfield ones and only one of those actually fit to play. Plus Michael Paton was drafted in to right back and Cammy Ballantyne shifted to the left to cover for the absence of Willie Dyer.

It was Paton who made the day much harder than it needed to be when he dived in to bring down an attacker when he’d already been booked. Down to ten men was going to make the win all but impossible. (Not that his first booking was much of one but you don’t dive in when you’ve had it.) I must say the ref was reluctant to wield the yellow card to any of the home defenders making loan signing Ben Armour’s debut a trial. Armour was himself booked before any of his tormentors was. His substitution by Brad Spencer near the end might have been to try to make sure the ref wasn’t tempted to give him a second too. By the time the ref did start booking Brechin players it was too late and he spread the cards around.

The odd thing was we looked a better attacking force after the sending-off than before – possibly due to Cammy Ballantyne being on his natural side of the pitch. But I was always aware we were short of numbers whenever Brechin counter-attacked.

We were the better team throughout in any case – even if we didn’t actually threaten their goal much. Their keeper made a great save from an Andy Dowie header from a corner to stop us taking the lead. (Dowie, it seems, was making his last appearance for us, his new day job commitments meaning his availability isn’t guaranteed. That leaves us with the sum total of zero centre backs available for the Montrose game in a fortnight – unless long-term absentee Craig Barr recovers in time for that. Or some other miracle occurs.)

We kept them out reasonably well till injury time when we began to look a tiny bit ragged. The goal though, from a corner we couldn’t clear, scrambled in with the second last kick of the game (the last was the kick-off which followed) was cruel in the extreme. The players (the ten still on the pitch anyway) didn’t deserve that. It’s the sort of thing that happens to a team on whom Lady Luck has turned her back – compare our late winner in the first game at the Glebe last season when Brechin were the sufferers.)

By my count that’s four points we’ve dropped on this ground this season. We ought to have had three in the first game and at least one here. But combine that with the six Brechin gained from the two games and we could have been more than comfortably ahead of them. As it is we’re not.

And we’re down below the bare bones now.

This season feels like revenge karma for the good times in the tier above for so long. I hope something turns up before January ends or we could be staring down the barrel of a second successive relegation and that could be a disaster for the club as the rot might not stop there.

Freddie Glidden

I see from the club website that former Son Freddie Glidden has died.

His years playing for the club were slightly before my time but I remember my eldest brother reminiscing about him. I recall the word “uncompromising” was implied.

We could do with a bit of that right now.

Frederick Glidden: 7/9/1927 – 1/1/2019. So it goes.

A Dreadful Year for Sons

2018 wasn’t a good year for Sons – Oswestry apart.

But I hadn’t realised how bad it was until I read this this statistical analysis of the playing year produced by a Sons fan on his “Tales From the Rock” blog and linked to on page 1610 of the “Sons Sorrow” thread on the Pie Shop, aka Pie and Bovril.

Played 55, Won 16,* Drawn 8, Lost 31, Goals for 60, Goals Against 104.

These stats show just why manager Stevie Aitken had to be binned.

There has been a small improvement under new manager Jim Duffy, but he is still labouring with the squad he inherited – a lot of whom seem to be injury prone.

*This count includes pre-season games against non-league opposition.

2019

Happy New Year.

Well, I say happy but – apart from my eldest son getting married in February – I can’t see much cause for celebration this new year. Sons are pretty ropy this season (with only the Cup run helping last season to be anything like bearable) and Brexit looks like making life for most people in the UK more arduous then it need have been.

Happy New Year anyway.

Stenhousemuir 2-2 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Ochilview, 29/12/18.

Well this was a mustn’t lose – and we almost lost. Thankfully we didn’t.

On our first half performance it would have been deserved – we created nothing and had only one shot on target, Ross Forbes’s free-kick right on half-time despatched with aplomb and hit so hard the keeper couldn’t keep it out. Their goal was a defensive travesty, a litany of mistakes strating with a poor Stuart Carswell ball out (I’m not blaming him, he’s making a fair fist of centre back duties despite being a midfielder, injury needs must) an atrocious Andy Dowie (lack of) challenge and Chris Smith in goal didn’t cover himself in glory with his effort at saving it.

The start was bizarre. We walked out in Stenny’s away kit – or a Stenny away kit an Argentina clone, blue and white stripes and back shorts. Seems the ref didn’t read our email asking if our red strip would be okay. It’s the second time I’ve seen us in the home team’s away kit. The first was at Bayview (the old Bayview) many, many moons ago.

Second half was a different game – after we let them waltz through our defence to retake the lead. We then totally dominated (apart from the odd break) and had a great chance from a Dom Thomas cross which Kyle Hutton put over. Ryan Thomson had an effort from a rebound blocked.

But the amazing thing was the series of corners from Ross Forbes, one hitting the bar and another the near post with a third flapped at by the keeper. If only we had somebody to attack the ball Forbes’s delivery could be decisive but we lack height just now.

Forbes stepped up again right at the death to fire an even better placed free-kick than his first in off the post. Cue celebrations.

The comments from some Sons fans when we were 2-1 down were less than helpful. I don’t seriously believe the players aren’t trying. The time that brought it to a head was a gamble on where the ball would break that didn’t come off. It might have looked like it but it wasn’t laziness on the player’s part – just a misjudgement. If we’d been going well it would never have raised its head as an issue. But we aren’t going well.

I doubt the January transfer/signing window will change much either.

Raith Rovers 4-2 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Stark’s Park, 15/12/18

For forty five minutes of this we were impressive, knocking the ball about well and with Dom Thomas shooting on sight. (Mostly wildly it has to be said.) Despite that we looked a little shaky at the back – not surprising given that Stuart Carswell isn’t a centre back but was slotted in there due to necessity.

It wasn’t Thomas but Ross Forbes who scored a worldy though. He picked up a loose Raith pass about ten yards inside their half, looked up and lobbed the keeper right into the top corner.

Unfortunately we didn’t keep the lead for long. But the goal should not have stood as it came in a passage of play following a Raith throw-in which was a foul throw (a persistent occurence during this game. Why refs and linesmen don’t punish these I don’t know.)

But we got ourselves ahead again when Bobby Barr released Cammy Ballantyne to whip a vicious cross across the face of the goal which Michael Paton (apparently; It was up the far end and diificult to identify) only had to touch to score but made sure hit the back of the net.

Half-time and I was of course worried we would not hold out but it wasn’t till after the hour mark we conceded again. Too easily, with former Son Kevin Nisbet on the mark.

Their third was perhaps coming as we had faded a bit but we could have got ours if Dom Thomas’s free-kick hadn’t been too near the keeper. It was an acrobatic effort back across the goal from a cross hit long.

The fourth was a severe disappointment as the performance up to then hadn’t deserved it but resistance just melted away from him for another former Son Lewis Vaughan to put even a draw beyond us.

The first half presented grounds for optimism for the rest of the season. The second half didn’t.

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.

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