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League Cup Fixtures

The League Cup group match dates have been announced.

Saturday July 9 – Dumbarton v Stirling Albion

Wednesday July 13 – Aberdeen v Dumbarton

Saturday July 16 – Peterhead v Dumbarton

Tuesday July 19 – Dumbarton v Raith Rovers

So the potentially closest to me (Raith) won’t be – and the two away games are at the two grounds furthest away. I doubt I’ll bother.

League Cup Draw

This has come around very quickly. I’m still depressed about being relegated.

But the draw for next season’s League Cup has been made.

Do we have to?

Not that it’s called the League Cup anymore. It’s the Premier Sports Cup.

Whatever.

Our group includes Aberdeen, Raith Rovers, Peterhead and Stirling Albion.

Two potentially travellable venues for me if we play them away. Two others not quite so much.

Dumbarton 1-1 Edinburgh City

SPFL Tier 3 Play-off, Semi-Final, Second Leg, The Rock, 7/5/22.

We needed an early goal to have any hope of putting the wind up them. Needless to say it wasn’t forthcoming.

The first half was pretty much nothing. And, criminally, no urgency on our part .

A quadruple substitution early in the second half brightened us up and brought a goal from a Kalvin Orsi cross and Kris Syvertsen’s head.

The great comeback on?

No. This is Dumbarton, vintage 2022.

It would only ever have taken one goal to down us. And it did. Three minutes after ours. Our defence parted like theatre curtains. No-one put in a challenge to stop their player getting his shot away.

Mind you, it had been coming. They had had several efforts on target thwarted by Kieran Wright or else squandered.

But the damage had been done in the first leg – and all through the season.

So our centenary year will be spent in the bottom tier of the top league in Scotland.

Even if that’s been our natural habitat for most of my life there’s now an air of doom about the club that has never been there before. The murkiness of the club’s ownership is a constant threat and contributed greatly to our recent woes.

I dread to think where we’ll spend the season after next.

If we still exist.

Expletive deleted.

Edinburgh City 4-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3 Play-off, Semi-Final, First Leg, Ainslie Park, 03/05/22.

Calamity.

Shambles.

Disgrace.

Choose your own noun.

Whichever, this was a come-uppance that has been coming all season.

We weren’t the worse team in the first half; indeed we had several opportunities to put in good crosses, notably from Ross MacLean, but the delivery was never acceptable enough except when Conner Duthie put one over for Josh Oyinsan to head. Josh’s angle was slightly wrong and the ball just cleared the bar. That would have made it 1-1 and might have changed the game.

But our perennial ability to shoot ourselves in the foot manifested itself when George Stanger underhit a back-pass and Kieran Wright couldn’t prevent the forward getting past him to be presented with an open goal.

Their second was also an abject disaster, a corner somehow not being cleared and the ball going in off Gregor Buchanan. At that point any thought of winning this tie all but disappeared.

Mind you, if we had approached the start of the first half the way we did the second things might have been different. For the first twenty minutes we were all over them, creating space down the flanks and getting crosses in. It was two odd substitutions though with Kris Syvertsen who had looked as if he mignt create something and big Josh (who admittedly wasn’t at his best) being replaced by Kalvin Orsi and Callum Wilson. At this point Paul Paton was bossing the game from the base of midfield and it was his cross that was looped over the keeper from the edge of the box for our goal. Young Callum did his best, twisting and turning past defenders several times, but nobody was able to be calm enough to finish off his work.

Their third killed it. Another defensive mix-up and a reasonable save from Keiran Wright was followed by a failure to clear the ball which fell to a guy who couldn’t miss.

At 2-1 and with us on top there was the possibility of getting an equaliser but that goal knocked us back. 3-1 was always going to be a different prospect.

The final nail in the coffin with minutes to go – another short pass back latched on to by the home attack – just completed the humiliation.

The thought of watching the second leg was by then almost unbearable.

So; unless some sort of miracle happens on Saturday we now know where we’ll be playing next season; Tier 4.

Who knows where we’ll be the season after that?

The club is in deep trouble on and off the park. It’s its 150th anniversary later this year. What a sorry state it’s in to greet that.

Profound change is required.

Dumbarton 2-1 Clyde

SPFL Tier 3, The Rock, 30/4/22,

Too little too late.

Except for when we played East Fife this was our only home win in the league this season – and it came in the last regular game. Add to that that we have had only had three clean sheets all season and you can see where the problems lie.

Our team featured nine changes from last week’s starters – no doubt the manager trying to preserve players for the more important play-off games coming up.

We started brightly enough though I thought Clyde looked less than interested and in ten minutes Kristoffer Syvertsen executed a lovely turn in the box and shot past their keeper.

Thereafter we more or less dominated the half and ought to have scored when Ross Maclean had a one-on-one but he lost his footing just as he shot. Anothe rlovely move saw Kris Syvertsen set up by Gregg Wylde but his shot was either blocked by a defender or tipped over the bar by the keeper; it was hard to see which on the stream.

Then with half-time looming we lost centre-back Adam Hutchinson to a shoulder injury. No sub came on. Of course they came up the park and scored – albeit at the second attempt. Being a man short may have cost us that. Carsy came on as sub for the kick-off. Typical.

So far so like the last home game against Peterhead.

The second half was pretty much nothing but Conner Duthie and Josh Oyinsan on for the half looke dlively at times. It was due to Josh we got the winner. He rolled his defender on the halfway line and passed to Duthie who mishit his pass but Gregg Wylde got enough power to beat the keeper.

In the last seconds Josh took a sore one from former Son Kevin Nicoll who was immediately red-carded. What a ridiculous challenge to perpetrate in the last knockings of the season. I hope Josh will be fit to take part in the play-offs.

So a win at last. But is it enough to instil confidence for Tuesday night?

For myself, the nerves are shredded already.

Graham Fyfe

Former Son Graham Fyfe who played for the club in the late 1970s after appearing for Rangers and Hibs has sadly died.

He played 59 games for the club and scored 11 goals. As I recall one of those was a peach of a team move which he finished off with a glorious volley. Unfortunately I can’t remember who it was scored against. I seem to remember it was during an evening game though.

Graham Fyfe: 18/8/1951 – 19/4/2022. So it goes.

Cove Rangers 1-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Balmoral Stadium, 23/4/22.

This was an odd experience. I’ve been at an away ground before where the home team could win promotion that day (Stark’s Park, when Jimmy Nichol was Raith player-manager) and it was a much more raucous affair.

For a team about to win a championship the home crowd was strangely muted. Maybe it’s an Aberdeen thing. Alex Ferguson said that the most encouragement the Pittodrie faithful gave his team was that, “You could hear them rustling their sweetie papers.”

Whatever the only chanting in the first half came from the small cohort of Dumbarton fans giving it the usual. “We’re only here for the party,” “What a shitey home support,” and “Shall we sing a song for you,” were each given a run-out.

We had the better of the earlier exchanges and their keeper made more saves (two) than ours (one) in the first half. Ross MacLean was worked into a good poaition on the left of the box but his shot was at a perfect height for the keeper to save it. Then Connor Duthie had a shot blocked and Josh Oyinsan shanked the rebound wide. Josh worked another opportunity afew minutes later but his finish was a bit weak and close to the keeper. At the other end Kieran Wright came out to smother a shot in a one-on-one. A pretty nothing first half in truth. The home team were just that though, a team, clearly used to playing with each other. Their passes generally found their target whereas ours could be wayward. However they didn’t look like a side hoping to win their league that day, with not much urgency to their play.

In the second half they did step it up a bit, but only a bit. Patience is a virtue and their one good opportunity was put away, former Son Mitch Megginson unaccountably left free at the edge of our box to rilfe it home. There was really only one winner after that, though we had a flurry towards the end. In retrospect the three changes our manager Stevie Farrell made simultaneously on 66 minutes perhaps made us less potent.

The plastic pitch had done for Eoghan Stokes 14 minutes in. It looked like his studs got too much grip on it and he was forced off.

Balmoral Stadium itself is a kind of soulless place to play football. At the edge of an industrial estate and overlooked by radio and microwave transmitters, it has a tiny stand (a bit like Boghead’s old Postage Stamp) straddling the halfway line with flat surrounds beside it and on the other three sides, though with three shallow stepped enclosures on the side opposite the stand. If there’s one persion standing in front of you you won’t be able to see any of the action. You have to be on the rail. In adddition the goal nets are almost touching the “terracing” barriers behind the goals.

Anyway, congratulatiosn to Cove Rangers on their winning the league.

As for us, a nothing game next Saturday before the nerve shredding play-off. For the second season in a row we’ll come up against Edinburgh City, away on 3rd or 4th May, with the home leg on 7th May. I’m not looking beyond that.

Airdrieonians 3-2 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Shyberry Excelsior Stadium,* 16/4/22.

Another game at the Shyberry, another 3-2 defeat with them scoring the winner late.

Fate sealed then.

There is now no chance we can avoid ninth place and the relegation play-offs. Indeed we can’t avoid ninth as East Fife’s defeat means they cannot catch us.

So another miserable season grinds on.

We were apparently down 2-0 then George Stanger got us back into the game. A headed goal from a corner! Our signature method of scoring from last season sadly lacking in this.

Then a further lifeline as they went down to ten men, former Son Adam Frizzell sent off.

An own goal even gave us an equaliser.

But with two minutes left they scored the winner. That’s our season in a nutshell.

At least the next two games are free hits – though Cove Rangers (up next) need a win to clinch promotion.

Then the nail biting really starts with the semi-final away leg on May 3rd or 4th, and the home leg on May 7th.

*Call it Penny Cars if you must.

Alloa Athletic 2-3 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Recreation Park*, 2/4/22.

What a shock.

We scored. Our first in almost five games.

We scored three.

We won! (For the first time in seven games.) It’s almost certainly too late though.

I “watched” the second half on the BBC Scotland results show. It was 0-0 for so long. All the while Peterhead were in control in their game so our wnning was an absolute must. Then Alloa scored in about 82 minutes. Game over, I thought.

Imagine my surprise when it came up about three minutes later that we’d scored a penalty. Even more so when it was Conner Duthie who scored it. Carsy has been our penalty taker all season. It seems he’d been subbed for Eoghan Stokes though.

Imagine my even greater surprise when Duthie scored again two minutes after that.

However, I just knew they’d equalise. It’s what we do. Not much surprise when it was a pen. Our record of giving them away this season is beyond a joke. 90th minute it said. At that point I’d have taken a draw even though it was useless to us.

Utter disbelief ensued when I saw Alloa 2-3 Dum on the left upper screen graphic. Then it came up on the videoprinter, scorer Kristoffer Syvertsen. Amazing.

So no goals for over 80 minutes then five in the last ten or so.

It seems from Pie and Bovril we looked like we were playing for a draw for most of the game. Maybe we should try attacking from the start.

Peterhead at home next week. Lose that and it’s ninth at best for us. We have the top two away in the two games following that. Nul points from them I should think.

This game was notable in another way. It’s the first time the Sons have been refereed by a woman, Lorraine Watson to be precise.

*Indodrill Stadium only if you must.

Dumbarton 0-0 Montrose

SPFL Tier 3, The Rock, 26/3/22

Well, it wasn’t a defeat, we didn’t lose a goal inside the first five minutes and we ended up with a clean sheet. It could be termed progress.

But we needed a win. Especially since Peterhead beat Falkirk so we’re now four points behind them. And it’s four games in a row now without scoring.

We’re just sleepwalking into relegation.

It could have been different. Yes, we didn’t threaten much in the first half (we didn’t threaten at all) but were reasonably comfortable.

We ought to have scored in the second when a fine Carlo Pignatiello run saw him unselfishly draw the ball back to Paul Paton in front of an open goal but he scuffed his shot miserably.

A minute or so later they were awarded a penalty which looked to be curtains for us. However Kieran Wright in goal made a very good save. It’s his first clean sheet for us. How he must have longed to have a defence in front of him.

Another plus point was Josh Oyinsan’s return. He gives us presence up front but isn’t fully match fit I would say.

Whether or not the appearance as a sub by the long-injured (and long unseen) Kristoffer Syvertsen is a plus was difficult to tell. He again probably isn’t match fit and didn’t do much in his minutes on the pitch to say if he’s an asset or merely a body.

We have five games left, two of them against the top two away. There’s no way we’re pulling this out of the bag.

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