Archives » Andy Graham

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.

Alloa Athletic 0-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Recreation Park,1 6/12/14

A welcome win – second away win in a row – an even more welcome clean sheet, and breathing space between us and eighth place.

We could have gone behind early on as Alloa hit the post and the ball screwed back across the goal to go out for a goal-kick. Danny Rogers also had a good save with his legs in the first half. The only goal came from the aftermath of a corner which was cleared out to Mitch Megginson who spurned the obvious ball back out to Scott Agnew and advanced to cross the ball for Andy Graham to nod it to Chris Kane. That close in and in space Chris doesn’t miss.

Kaneo could have had a hat-trick in this game as he went close several times in the second half but mostly from outside the box. Jordan Kirkpatrick, on as sub for Chris Turner, had a fine strike saved by the keeper.

But I spent most of the second half looking at my watch as we didn’t really show any sign of putting the game away and Alloa had a lot of the ball (without, it has to be said, ever looking really dangerous) and the defence always looked vulnerable against a pacy break. It was us, not them, who looked as if we’d had a big game in midweek.

I’ll take a scrappy one-nil any day though.

1Indodrill Stadium? I think not.

Heart of Midlothian 5-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Tynecastle Stadium, 18/10/14

A curious one this. Hearts were clearly the better team – the best I’ve seen against us in years, just shading Aberdeen in the cup last season – but we didn’t deserve to lose five. On the other hand we did little in the way of attacking in the first half. Andy Graham made the Hearts keeper make a save but that was about it. We definitely miss the Chrisses, Turner and Kane.

We allowed too many crosses in and the first goal came from one of them. The penalty was a penalty. I thought Scott Linton would get to the ball but the attacker was quicker. Danny Rogers touched the ball but he was unlikely to save two inside a week. He had made a great save at 1-0 though.

Second half we came out more brightly and should have had a penalty ourselves when Mark Gilhaney was tripped in the box. For their third we back-pedalled instead of closing down and the guy tucked it away.

Garry Fleming’s goal came when Colin Rhyming Slang headered a corner back across goal from a corner and was finished very well.

Their fourth was from a corner and I was lamenting the fact that we had all eleven men within twenty five yards of our goal. Leave two up and they have to leave three back.

The last was another on the counter immediately after one of their defenders had made a block and dragged the ball with his hand; so we should have had a foul.

Still, I came away thinking we hadn’t played too badly, and not too down-hearted.

It’s a funny old game.

Hibernian 0-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Easter Road Stadium, 11/10/14

For a 0-0 this was quite entertaining. Not that either side made much in the way of chances. Hibs had a few efforts from headers in the first half which all drifted past.

In half an hour Colin Rhyming Slang had won more headers than in all the previous games I’ve seen him in – both in attack and in defence. Moreover he was getting free-kicks for the way Hibs players were challenging him. He had our nearest effort on goal in the first half too, with a looping header.

The main first half talking point was the penalty. I wasn’t sure there had even been a foul, though Andy Graham was booked for it. It certainly wasn’t a clear goal scoring opportunity as there were two Sons defenders in a position to block any shot. The taker didn’t look all that confident but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Danny Rogers did well to get down even if it was fairly poorly struck. The ball squirmed under him and almost crossed the line – but not all of it, maybe five-sixths. That means it wasn’t a goal.

In the second half two Hibs players went down in their box after they clashed heads. A bit up the park Mitch Megginson called for the trainer too. On the resumption neither Hibs player had left the field as you’re supposed to if the trainer has come on – yet Mitch had had to. What was that all about?

Hibs stepped up the pace towards the end but still couldn’t break down our defence/get past Danny Rogers, who was pretty comfortable throughout. Even if he had to tip a few long range shots over the bar his positioning was always good. He was Sons man of the match, no question; but everybody gets full marks.

It was my first look at Kieran MacDonald who came on as sub. He looked confident and attempted a dribble at one point.

Falkirk 1-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Falkirk Stadium, 20/9/14

Sons fans gave over the first minute of this game to applause in appreciation of Kirsty Mackie, a dedicated Dumbarton fan who died unexpectedly this week. So it goes.

In many ways this was a case of getting out of jail. For at least three quarters of this game we weren’t in it. Falkirk’s players seemed to have acres of space, we didn’t seem to be pressing, our passing was woeful. Their goal followed three missed tackles, an evasion of Scott Linton that was far too easy and a cross to an unmarked man. They also hit the bar in that half and Danny Rogers had to come out quickly and spread himself well to prevent a second. Apart from that though Falkirk were pretty unimpressive.

In the second they made Danny Rogers make one more save, a blinding, twisting, reflex effort that was out of the top drawer.

Credit to manager Ian Murray, though, who made his substitutions and went for it, even to the extent of putting Andy Graham up front in the attempt to salvage a point, a tactic I’ve not seen Murray use before. (Sadly this only showed why Andy is better employed at centre half – but his presence may have been a factor in upsetting Falkirk’s defence.)

We dominated the last ten minutes and the equaliser was coming, their keeper had to make several saves and Colin Nish got just too much onto an Archie Campbell cross. The goal followed a sublime piece of footwork from Steven McDougall to get into the box and square it for Chris Kane to score yet another of his late goals.

Aberdeen 1-0 Dumbarton

Scottish Cup, Round 6, Pittodrie Stadium, 8/3/14.

So, the dream lasted 53 minutes. It was good while it lasted.

Actually the dream was still on till the final whistle – but only of salvaging a draw.

A large contingent of Sons supporters travelled up to Pittodrie – for long stretches making more noise than the home fans, at least from the area where the away contingent was closeted. Several old favourites were trotted out along with the usual “Dumbarton,” clap, clap, clap, and “Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh. You’re shite, aaaaaah,” including, “We forgot that you were here,” “What a shitey home support,” “You only sing when you’re winning.” Special kudos to Aberdeen keeper Jamie Langfield for responding to the chant, “Jamie Langfield, you’re a wanker, you’re a wanker,” with a grin and thumbs up.

Aberdeen were undoubtedly the more accomplised team, they achieved more subtle angles and passes than we are used to but we matched them for just about the whole game. That their defenders had their arms around our two strikers every time the ball came up to them says a lot (one particular instance in the penalty box comes to mind.) So does the fact that the Aberdeen man of the match was centre half Russell Anderson. They looked vulnerable to the ball over the top (until Colin Rhyming Slang was substituted – he’d pulled up after an aerial challenge in their box and lasted only a few more minutes.) We resorted to that direct ball a little too often after they scored but our normal passing game was not as fluid as I’d hoped, Aberdeen not allowing us the space we’re used to. Aberdeen played with much more assurance after the goal but they still couldn’t produce the killer pass, tribute to our defence.

The goal was preventable, Scott Linton showed admirable confidence in trying to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick but he should have hoofed it. I just knew when the corner was awarded that the goal would come from it. And the corner could have been defended better.

(Poor Scotty’s day got worse when he got injured in a challenge and had to come off. Looked like a hamstring pull. We’ll miss his long throws.)

It wasn’t even our strongest team. Chris Turner was still out and loanee Mike Miller hasn’t started at centre half before.

Aberdeen got the benefit of 50/50 decisions from the referee – as you might expect for the “bigger” club.

One curiosity. The pitch was being watered, by pop-up sprinkler, before the game and at half time. Is this usual practice at Pittodrie or were they trying to make the pitch heavy because we’re a part time team?

Special mention to Andy Graham. He looked as if he was injured with about 25 minutes to go but kept on running and chasing and tackling even though he looked totally knackered.

It shows how far we’ve come in the past five years that the overriding emotion after we’ve lost 1-0 away to the second best team in the country is disappointment rather than relief.

I just hope that the efforts of this game and the injuries sustained don’t cost us in the league.

For those of you who know me see if you can spot me in this photo from the Dumbarton FC website.

Sons fans at Aberdeen

For those of you who don’t, I’m somewhere above the D of the Dumbarton in the banner.

Alloa Athletic 0-1 Dumbarton

Scottish Cup Round 5, Recreation Park, 8/2/14.

We dominated the first half of this and only had one hairy moment when Stephen Grindlay made a good stop and Paul McGinn didn’t look favourite for the rebound but still managed to scoop it away. The goal was well worked, Scott Agnew did brilliantly to bring the ball down and then hooked it across goal for Colin Rhyming Slang to volley in from close range. Then Chris Kane won himself a penalty – almost a carbon copy of the incident in the recent league game but this one was more definite. Unfortunately his shot was a carbon copy of the previous one and the keeper saved it (while injuring himself in the process.)

The second half was a bit more even but we were really troubled only twice – another great stop from Stephen Grindlay and an absolutely magnificent goal line clearance from Andy Graham after it looked a certain goal. Scott Linton hit the bar with a belter but the game was pretty scruffy and scrappy in the latter stages.

So a Cup quarter-final to look forward to. When was the last time we had one of those? Was it 1979? I don’t remember one since.

Raith Rovers 2-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Stark’s Park, 14/12/13

Not a good day for a game. High wind and driving rain for most of it.

Sons held their own in the first half yielding one chance which the guy blazed against the bar and over, while at the other end ours fell to Colin Nish (two headers wide and one shot right at the keeper) and another header – by whom it was too far away to see – that flashed past the post.

Second half we were on top and they broke away while sub Mitch Megginson and Mark Gilhaney were both on one side of the park and they exploited the space to score.

The sending off might have chaned the game but we got hopelessly out of shape (again!) and got caught three on one on the counter.

Late on Andy Graham played a great forward ball (he was our most incisive player all game – from centre half) to other sub Garry Fleming who swept it across for final sub Steven McDougall to score.

We should have got a draw from this but Raith had three real chances and took two of them. Pity most of ours fell to Colin Nish – whose name would make good rhyming slang. At one point he was unchalleged going for a high ball and still missed it.

Things everywhere did not go well for us. Jordan Kirkpatrick was our best player but was carried off injured in the first half and with all subs committed Chris Turner had to go off too meaning our midfield next week is probably going to look decidedly strange. Then Cowden go and win at Dens! You can’t trust anyone these days.

I’ve now got a very bad feeling about the season. Ian Murray’s going to be tested as a manager from here on in.

Livingston 1-3 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Almondvale Stadium,* 16/11/13

Well; after half an hour I couldn’t see this coming. We had looked sprightly enough early on but never threatened their keeper and then about twenty minutes in they scored when there appeared to be no danger. Sometimes you just have to say it was briiliant. The ball came on from the wing and Mark McNulty hit it exquisitely first time. Jamie Ewings was never stopping it. That’s two wonder strikes against us in the last two games I’ve been to. Jamie did make a great tackle in a one-on-one a few minutes later and had another good save in the second half. Plus he had had to look lively at their first corner to stop the wind taking the ball in, and they hit the bar at 1-0.

Mitch Megginson’s leveller was a thumper. Andy Graham then Colin Nish held it up in the box. Mitch fair belted the lay-off, Sons fans perfectly placed to see it was in the moment he hit it.

Second half we came out much more aggressively and had more attempts on goal in the first minute than in the whole of the first half. Mark Gilhaney’s shot then Jordan Kirkpatrick’s parried effort which Colin Nish ought to have converted rather than poking it over.

Looked like Ian Murray had told them during the interval to press much higher. Whatever, it worked. We started to exploit them on the break. Paul McGinn’s great run up the wing saw him cleverly step inside, the defender took him over inside the box. After some dealy Chris Turner converted. Some turn round.

We began to defend a little too deeply for a bit but a swift counter attack took the ball from our box to theirs via a fine upfield ball to Jordan Kirkpatrick who switched it all the way across to Mark Gilhaney who eveded his man to get clear in the box and looke dset to score but cleverly tuned tha ball across for sub Brian Prunty (on for the mostly ineffectual Colin Nish) to tap it in.

The rest of the game was spent waiting for the final whistle – only a couple of near-close things.

This was a win we needed though. Had we lost things would be looking a bit glum.

*Edited to add:- They’ve changed the stadium’s name again. It’s now the Energy Assets Arena. Oh tempora!

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