Archives » Bobby Barr

Annan Athletic 0-1 Dumbarton

Scottish League Cup* Group E, Galabank, 13/7/19.

A win! A win I wasn’t expecting – certainly not after only signing five of the players on show within the previous forty-eight hours.

But this ought to be tempered with caution. Annan were far from impressive even if they are only one tier below us. But compare last season’s equivalent game at Spartans – two tiers below us – where we only got a draw.

With nine new players starting I had no idea who was who to begin with – apart from Kyle Hutton and Stuart Carswell, the latter now Sons captain and the stand-out player on the park.

We had the better of the early stuff, several efforts on goal (Annan’s first did not arrive till 40 mins in – their second was only a couple of minutes later but both were wide of the mark; indeed, crosses aside, Jordan Pettigrew in Sons’ goal did not have a save to make in the entire game) and a lot of corners in our favour but I still never felt our defence was comfortable. Too many years watching Sons does that to you.

New right back Lewis Crawford – a local lad – was solid and got forward well, he had our first shot on goal but it was blocked and not long after a header which unfortunately was straight at the keeper. He’s no Sam Wardrop though. Rico Quitongo on the other flank seemed defensively sound and got forward too.

Paul Crossan (P J Crossan on the club’s squad list) looked effective on the wing, reminiscent of Andy Stirling in build. He cut inside well and looks to be an upgrade on Bobby Barr.
Ryan Tierney up front held the ball up impressively but whether he’ll be able to do it against better defenders remains to be seen. He took his goal well though. Neither of our front two is on the tall side but Tierney still managed to win quite a few balls in the air. Mati Zata in midfield, though, looked like a fish out of water, not really getting into the game at all.

An Annan fan sitting near me said to his mate sometime during the second half that Dumbarton looked organised. How that’s so is a miracle given our lack of time together or maybe it’s just a reflection of Annan’s lack in that regard. Or (at the risk of getting ahead of myself and despite Sons fans less than enthusiastic embrace of the signings so far) do we simply have better players than them?

Three games against teams in higher divisions now before the league starts. Make the most of the win.

Dumbarton 3-3 Airdrieonians

SPFL Tier 3, The Rock, 2/4/19.

Well, we scored first, and then did our best to throw the game away.

We looked bright at the start finding joy on the left with Bobby Barr one of whose crosses was headed just past the post by Calum Gallagher. They seemed to be able to get through our midfield too easily, however, without really threatening further forward.

The goal came from a piece of quick thinking by Ross Forbes, playing a free-kick early to Dom Thomas on the edge of the box. Dom cut in and hit a shot which looked as if it was likely to be blocked but it hit the back of the net.

The equaliser came from a flicked on throw in, a header which Grant Adam got a hand to but not enough to keep it out. (He had also conceded the throw by palming a ball away which he might have been better not going for – or preferably catching.)

Not long after they were ahead. The lad who got on the end of the pass through looked a head offside to me when the ball was played to him. Our defending in the middle was a shambles though, the scorer standing all alone to tap it in.

They were breaking well and giving me the fear every time they got beyond the halfway line but the half ended at 1-2.

The second half more or less repeated the first to begin with except our pressure was stronger and they continued to look lively moving into our half. We had several corners in a row without much result. Grant Adam made a good stop on a one-on-one and the rebound was also blocked.

Manager Jim Duffy started to go for broke, taking off David Ferguson and putting on Boris Melingui. This shunted Stuart Carswell to right back. Boris it was who headed a Ross Forbes free-kick back across goal for an unchallenged Calum Gallagher to head in at the far post.

We continued to press – and that was our undoing. In a quick break they had a four on two and eventually scored but from where I was there looked to be a handball in the build-up.

By this time I was resigned to the defeat but Ross Forbes pinged one just inside the near post from the far edge of the area to cue delirium in the home end.

It’s a draw I’ll take – the fourth between these two sides in the league this season, a unique statistic for us since ten-team leagues were introduced in Scotland – but we really needed a win. It makes Saturday’s game against Brechin an absolute must-not-lose (guess what will happen) but a win would be even more desirable. It’s tighter than a gnat’s chuff at the bottom, only four points separating four teams. I don’t know if my nerves will stand it.

Raith Rovers 4-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Stark’s Park, 23/3/19.

We just weren’t at it for this game.

Mind you, the line up was odd with Carsy playing at centre back and Michael Paton in midfield. Neither Ross Perry nor Brian McLean could have been available at centre half despite no mention on the club website of them having problems.

We had a fair bit of possession in the first few minutes without making anything of it. Then the doors fell off. A quick movement up our right led to a good first time strike hitting the back of our net. But we had been carved open far too easily.

They began to look faster and sharper than us, getting to second balls quicker.

Their second followed a misjudgement by Craig Barr who failed to cut out a through ball. David Ferguson’s last ditch challenge only fed the ball to the scorer.

Grant Adam had no chance with either shot. His kicking had started off OK but soon started to become atrocious. It’s a liability.

Hope blossomed when a great ball inside the full back allowed Bobby Barr to the bye-line and his cut-back was netted by Calum Gallagher.

If we’d held out to half-time we might perhaps have made a game of it but Grant Adam came out for a ball he’d no hope of ever getting, letting ex-Son Kevin Nisbet head into an empty net. Last effort of the half. That was game over.

I wondered at the restart if our goal would survive more than the ten minutes it had in the first. It didn’t. Nine minutes in they got past the defence too easily again. Grant Adam parried the shot – but only to Nisbet’s head. Game really over.

We looked utterly disjointed, loads of hoofed balls to nowhere, misplaced passes galore, Dom Thomas reverting to ‘hit it at the earliest opportunity’ even when playing a pass was the much better option. Even so I was surprised when he was hooked off in favour of Iain Russell but Beany almost scored with his first touch, the ball crashing off the bar. It looked easier to score. That’s the sort of day we had.

Four of the teams around or below us picked up points as well. We could be back in eighth place on Tuesday when Stranraer play Brechin.

This looks like going down to the wire.

East Fife 3-4 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, New Bayview,* 23/2/19

What a roller-coaster ride this was.

They had the better possesion in the first half but didn’t do much with it. Our defence looked very solid.

We hadn’t really threatened but a Calum Gallagher head-flick on to Dom Thomas left him running in towards goal. The ball sat up nicely for him to volley it. A belter. The keeper got a hand to it but the shot was too strong for him.

Fifteen minutes later the compliment was reversed when Dom played a cute ball behind the last defender. Cal Gal looked not to be in pole position but he managed to get past the defender and hit it early. It looked like the keeper might have done better. But 2-0. Cue slightly unbelieving delirium in the away end.

We had no corners in the first half but still scored again – with only our third shot** in the game. Dom Thomas wandering past their defenders before hitting a superb strike again from a narrow angle.

What a difference fifteen minutes made. They changed shape at half-time moving to three at the back and started to overload us in midfield. Our high press played into their hands a bit there. Suddenly their forwards were finding space in the box. We failed to clear a cross and the usual happened after the ball bounced around our box. Their second saw ex-Son Kevin Smith all alone i=n front of goal to nod home.

Thank goodness for Dom Thomas. The smart ball might have been to play in Cal Gal (who’d made a great run) but he just smashed it from outside the box as the defender backed off a bit to cover Cal’s run. Hat-trick and match ball for Dom. Bobby Barr’s reaction to Dom’s goal was priceless. Yes, Bobby; he is the man.

Nevertheless we’d throw another goal away almost from the kick-off. Nerve-racking stuff.

Cal Gal ought to have scored no 5 when Dom put him through but the keeper made a very good save.

I suppose the game was settled by the sending-off of Kane who – unable to cope with Dom’s trickery – dragged him back by the throat and the ref flourished the red card.

From then on we looked like we might score every time we went up the park – how we didn’t I don’t know.

There was still time for Sons fans to have convulsions when we thought the ref had given a penalty to East Fife. It looked to us as if Grant Adam had hit the ball against the attacker. Suggestions on Pie and Bovril were the linesman told the ref it wasn’t a pen. If so it was the only time he made a decision for himself all game.

A very, very welcome three points. We’ll need to improve our defending though, if we’re to get out of the relegation mire.

Btw: Why was no East Fife throw-in taker punished for a foul throw? Very few of their throw-ins were legal.

*Or whatever it’s called these days. (Locality Hub Bayview Stadium, I think.)

**edited to amend: third shot on target. Ross Forbes had an effort from a Dom Thomas cross going just over the bar.

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.

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.

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