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Dumbarton 1-3 Ayr United

Scottish League Cup,* Group E, The Rock,** 18/7/17

Well, here we go again with our traditional crap start to the season. At least this time it was a defeat to a team only one division below us and one we struggled against last season who have since apparently gone full-time.

I know the manager probably regards this as a pre-season tournament – at least his comments last season suggested so – but it’s still a nationwide tournament and a possible money spinner if we were to progress. Maybe next year.

Nowadays, what with contracts only lasting a season and players moving on it takes time to gel. Three games to get it right before the league starts.

*Call it the Betfred Cup if you want.

**Now officially the YOUR Radio 103FM Stadium.

Football Again

The new season doesn’t take long in coming around.

Sons’ opponents in the League Cup (Betfred Cup) will be Kilmarnock, Ayr United, Clyde and Annan Athletic. Matches to be played during the second half of July.

A quick reunion with Ayr, then. Doubtless we’ll get nothing out of that. They had the hex on us last season. It’s a long time since we played Kilmarnock.

Dundee United 2-2 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Tannadice Park, 29/4/17.

Well, it’s not quite done.

We certainly can’t be relegated automatically but barring a nine goal swing between our game against Falkirk at the Rock on Saturday and Raith’s at home to Ayr we won’t be in the relegation play-off – and that has the (less likely) back-up that St Mirren also don’t get a point from their game with Hibs.

At the start a point didn’t look possible from this game. Dundee United stormed out of the blocks and came close too many times for comfort; as befitted a team looking for second place in the Division. Yet they didn’t score and we came into it a bit. It looked like we’d weathered the storm but then they scored from a corner. Alan Martin got his hands to it but couldn’t keep it out. He did make a great save from a header a few minutes later. Curiously though I was never in any doubt that he would; he’s a great reaction keeper.

Robert Thomson came close to us from a corner of our own glancing his header just over the bar onto the net’s roof. But it was only a delay. A corner from the other side was delivered fairly poorly, straight to a defender but he only hooked it to the edge of the box where it was first-timed back across goal to where Robert Thomson was steaming in. Cue scenes in the away end.

At half-time I remarked I hadn’t seen it being at 1-1 when the game had only been five minutes in. I was grateful for it though.

The second half we were very in it to begin with. Andy Stirling and Lewis Vaughan were starting to get space on the wings and Sam Stanton through the middle. He it was with a fine run made the opportunity for Lewis Vaughan to put us ahead. Dreams of a win in Dundee and arithmetical safety began. It wasn’t the only opportunity of the half, a squared ball was unfortunately behind the inrushing Robert Thomson or he’d have had a tap in.

United didn’t really look threatening but suddenly scored out of the blue. Sadly for Alan Martin it was a save that squirmed away from him to an oncoming attacker that gave them the equaliser.

For the last ten minutes we were under the cosh a bit but throughout the game we had kept our shape really well, the players clearly know what they are to do. A couple of scrambles near our goal line and then a bit of holding the ball up near their corner flag and the ref blew for full time.

All the players and staff came to applaud the Sons fans in the away end amid much acclaim for their efforts.

A draw at Tannadice is a great result for the Sons. I think it’s the best one we’ve had there since they got promoted from the old Division Two in the late 1950s. And we’ve taken seven points out of a possible twelve from United this season. Amazing.

Fingers crossed for a survival Saturday at the weekend.

Summer Football

Way back in the dim mists of time the world was a simpler place and football did not dominate the calendar. World Cup finals were 16 teams large and the European Championship only had four qualifiers until it expanded to eight teams in 1980.

In Scotland the football season started on the second Saturday in August and finished on the last Saturday in April.

I thought it was pushing it when the season began edging into July to accommodate the Challenge Cup and altered League Cup format.

Today though is the 16th of July. The schools have barely broken up for the summer. Yet the Sons have a first game of the official season at Station Park, Forfar, in yet another alteration to the League Cup. It barely seemed the old season had ended when pre-season games began.

The squad manager Stevie Aitken has collected seems a little thin. The League Cup looks on paper to be not too daunting but I have no idea how we will fare against the three lower division sides in our group. (I expect to be beaten by Dundee.)

The league is a different matter. Already it looks tough. We’ll be relying on another full-time side to be rubbish (as Livingston were last season) to avoid the relegation play-offs and even then we’d have to finish above Ayr United, by no means a given.

How long we can continue to defy gravity I don’t know. This may be the season we don’t.

Airdrie United 1-4 Dumbarton

SFL Div 1 Play-off Final, Second leg. Excelsior Stadium, 20/5/12

Where was the anguish? Where was the angst? In a way this was even more unreal than watching us live on TV. 2-0 up after about twenty minutes, scoring just before half-time, cake icing and tiki-taka in the second half? It doesn’t get better than this. Except I was tense up till the Airdrie lad’s sending-off. At the time I didn’t think it was more than a robust challenge but the TV replays showed he took James Creaney’s leg and both his boots’ studs were showing so the ref got it right.

Next season might be a struggle but I’m not thinking about that right now. I’m basking in this.

Airdrie United 1-4 Dumbarton

I actually first took a photo of the scoreboard at 1-3 but this superseded it.

Craig Dargo may have been official man of the match (and he did give us the platform to win the game with his two strikes) but I’d like to mention Tony Wallace. From coming into the team as essentially Kevin Nicoll’s understudy he has grown into the season and his performance yesterday boded well, even if once again Airdrie’s Paul Lovering may have conned the ref into getting him booked. The TV replay was inconclusive as to whether there had even been a foul in that incident – which looked innocuous to me at the time. But it was Tony who beautifully set up the third goal for Mark Gilhaney and so gave Airdrie an almost impossible task in the second half and Tony again who waltzed through their defence for the fourth after good work from Brian Prunty.

Stephen Grindlay had a couple of excellent saves and actually commanded his box a few times but still had two moments which revealed his bomb scare capabilities.

We could have punished them further but that would maybe have been unkind. Certainly we tried to score “cute” goals when 4-1 up but the efforts didn’t come off.

Airdrie looked plodding. Maybe their efforts against Ayr United and at The Rock had taken it out of them. But our lads put in a tough shift at Arbroath in the semi-final and were still fit and really up for this. Credit to the backroom staff as well then.

Finally, a curiosity. We have been promoted without a positive goal difference in the league. Has that ever happened to anyone before?

Dumbarton 1-2 Ayr United

League goals against predictor:- 80

SFL Div 2, The Rock, 23/4/11

We needed something from this. We won’t get anything from the game at Livingston next Saturday nor from Forfar who’ve also beaten us three times already this season.

It’s too close at the bottom. We’re relying now on Alloa losing twice (or only getting one more point) as Stenny play free-falling Brechin and then Peterhead in their last game. I think they might win both those.

A play-off against a team with a lot of wins behind them in the Third Division looms.

Ayr United 2-0 Dumbarton

League goals against predictor:- 130

SFL Div 2, Somerset Park, 2/02/11

League goals for predictor:- 18.

Well. Not an auspicious start to the year.

According to Pie and Bovril it was never a penalty and we ought to have got something from the game.

But Ben Gordon was missing and so there was a makeshift defence.

No clean sheet but Stephen Grindlay was in goal so no surprise there.

Up and onwards to the Forfar game on Saturday.

Dumbarton 3-2 Ayr United

League goals against predictor:- 130

SFL Div 2, The Rock, 6/11/10

League goals for predictor:- 18.

Way-Hay! Into double figures for points.

I hope we haven’t used up all our season’s luck in two games. That’s the second home fixture in a row we’ve had opponents sent off.

From the accounts on Pie and Bovril it seems Grindlay had a good few saves. Well he always used to make some of those; it’s the bread and butter stuff and the crosses he messes up. And he still didn’t keep a clean sheet.

But we were missing Ben Gordon – not that he’s been outstanding this season.

A welcome three points though. Being in contact with those above us is always a good thing.

Next weekend is free of worry. It’s not a league game.

We’ll be able to concentrate on the league after it, though.

Ayr United 1-0 Dumbarton

League goals against predictor:- 140

SFL Div 2, Somerset Park, 21/8/10

Ho-hum. Not even a penalty goal today.

We did score, though. But it was for Ayr, not ourselves.

It was the only one we lost so I lowered the predictor a touch.

Looks like we might have had a left back in the side at last.

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