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Falkirk 1-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Falkirk Stadium, 12/8/17.

Now this was a good point.

Falkirk may be below us at the moment but will undoubtedly finish much higher than we do. Plus they were astonishingly profligate in front of goal in the last few minutes. And given Morton’s result today it looks as if last week’s was a good point too.

Falkirk had most of the ball early on but didn’t do much with it. When we got it we weren’t particularly threatening either but all that changed when Craig Barr muscled onto a ball in midfield and fed David Wilson who played a great ball behind the middle last defender which Alistair Roy collected and proceeded to thump past the goalkeeper.

We do score some belters at this ground, Lewis Vaughan and Andy Stirling last season, Mitch Megginson in one of Ian Murray’s seasons. (And a few scramblers, Chris Kane and Archie Campbell among those.)

The eqauliser came when Sam Wardrop* got done out wide. The ensuing cross wasn’t picked up by our defence and Nathan Austin was trying to make space in the area when Mark Stewart made contact with his back. Silly. It gives the forward the chance to go over and the ref the chance to make the decision. Miles Hippolyte put it away.

Dougie Hill hit the bar from a corner but we spent the rest of the first half and most of the second standing off and allowing them the ball. A few close shaves and a couple of saves from Scott Gallacher – one with his face – meant we were still in with the chance of a point, though. The biggest cheer of the second half was ironic, when the referee finally gave a foul for Christian Nade who had been getting clambered over all afternoon without reward – at one point clattered into with malice aforethought but the challenge was deemed legal.

One point almost became three when a Nade flick-on fell to Stewart in the area but his shot was tipped over by the keeper.

There was still time for Falkirk to waste two good opportunities by screwing the ball wide, though.

My main thought during and after this game was what is the point of Mark Stewart? For the most part his positioning is decidedly odd. He huffs and puffs but that’s about all. His use of the ball was woeful at times.

We didn’t help ourselves at times with some poor passing but that may have been tired legs. We’ve got a midweek game in the Cup we never win in during the week. I hope the manager puts out a team composed of players who haven’t been getting a game; especially as its against a Colts team – who should never be near a senior competition.

*Edited to add. I see from SonsTV it was David Wilson who got done.

Raith Rovers 2-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Stark’s Park, 17/1/15

If you had told me at half-time that we would come near to taking a point out of this game I would have laughed. We were woeful. No organisation, no bite, no shape, no nothing. All we had to show for it was a couple of long-range efforts from Garry Fleming. We badly missed Chris Kane up front. There wasn’t even Colin Rhyming Slang – on the bench throughout – to contest (contest?) for the ball. Though new loanee Stuart Findlay looked good, reasonably quick and comfortable on the ball. I think we were supposed to be playing 3-5-2 but it was all over the place really and they were able to get in behind us too easily.

Chris Turner had probably his worst game for us that I have seen. He’s not the player he was last season. It was his clumsy challenge that gave away the penalty and he simply wasn’t up to speed all game. There doesn’t seem to be anybody in the squad to allow him a rest what with the injuries to Jordan Kirkatrick and Mark Gilhaney.

Having said all that, Raith ought to have put us away. They didn’t and instead of going for the jugular second half opted for containment and hitting on the break. As a result we came into it. We actually looked like a team and had several Scott Agnew efforts for encouragement. One of those was parried by the keeper and Mitch Megginson pounced to score the rebound. A few minutes later the keeper spilled a cross under pressure from Garry Fleming and Mitch had a gaping goal, easier than the one he scored. He hit it too hard and it went over, off the bar. In stoppage time their keeper made a great save and in the subsequent passage of play a defender headed it off the line. On another day…..

Then again, Raith had missed a golden opportunity earlier in the half on one of their breaks upfield and also hit the post but a symptom of Raith’s second half approach was that even at 2-0 they had started time wasting.

Archie Campbell, despite his pace, doesn’t look the answer to our striking deficiencies.

Improvement next week is vital. Or at least to play for the whole game the way we played in the last twenty minutes yesterday.

Dumbarton 0-3 Falkirk

SPFL Tier 2, The Rock, 20/12/14.

I wasn’t at the game but witnessed it via BBC Alba.

I needn’t have bothered. We didn’t turn up for the first half and should have been down by more than one goal at half time. With Mark Gilhaney and Chris Turner missing from the starting line-up we were short in midfield. The only spark at all was, as usual, Chris Kane – and we won’t have him in the New Year.

Once Chris Turner replaced Steven McDougall for the second half things improved but we never really tested their keeper. When the second went in and David van Zanten was taken off for Archie Campbell I knew Falkirk would score again… and they did.

And…. Did Scotty Linton even get a kick of the ball after coming on for Mitch Megginson? I don’t think Archie touched it either and he was on the pitch for longer.

I hope things are better at Central Park next Saturday.

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.

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.

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.

Hamilton Academical 3-3 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, New Douglas Park, 1/2/14

I’d have taken this before the game. I’ll take it even more after we went 3-2 down with two minutes to go. But up popped Chris Kane with the equaliser a minute later.

I “watched” this on the videoprinter from about 4.30. I hadn’t felt up to the trip across.

From the report on Sportscene Results it sounded like Stephen Grindlay had twice spilled the ball to lead to Accies goals.

But not much damage done; only one place lost.

Amazingly we are now the outright top goalscorers in the Division, two better off than Dundee. Our defensive record is the third worst though.

Big week now. Home to Livingston on Wednesday then a chance to reach a Cup quarter-final at Alloa on Saturday. I’m not expecting that game to be a 5-1 away win again.

Alloa Athletic 1-5 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Recreation Park, 18/1/14.

Stunning. Simply Stunning. I’d never envisioned this when I looked towards this match.

I can’t remember seeing such a one-sided first half when we were the side on top – especially away from home. (Even the 6-0 at East Fife two and a half years ago wasn’t so lop-sided.) We were two-nil up, at 30 mins in, before they had a decent attack. Stephen Grindlay had had only pass backs and one pick up to deal with until after Mark McLaughlin deflected a cross in and Chris Turner got his head onto another. He did have to make a save from close-in header at 2-0, though. Chris Kane had hit the bar about 5 mins in and late in the first half converted a chase with their keeper to the corner of the box into a penalty which he took himself. There was contact but he’d seen it coming and didn’t avoid it. 3-0 at half time was already dreamland. I’d worked out that our goal difference – not to mention our points – was now better than Alloa’s.

They came out a bit more fired up in the second half but couldn’t make any impression. Jordan Kirkpatrick set up a shooting chance for himself but his piledriver just cleared the post, Mark Gilhaney had a great chance, one-on-one with the keeper whom he rounded but sent his shot over. (Well, we were shooting downhill by then.) They, however, ran up the park and scored but only while Mitch Megginson was temporarily laid out in our penalty area.

Any thoughts of a comeback were snuffed out when a cross reached Chris Kane – what a worker he is; brave too – he played for about an hour with a bandage up his nose after a clash. He ought to have put the cross in with his first touch but instead it teed up for him to belt it past the keeper.

The best was the last, a peach; a superb cross from the right was hit first time on the volley by Jordan Kirkpatrick and rocketed into the net. Jordan’s reward was an immediate substitution! That gave Scott Agnew some game time though.

Brilliant performance. Pass marks all round, I even noticed Colin Rhyming Slang making defensive clearances. Alloa were much poorer than I’d thought they would be. No need for Paul Hartley to chuck in the towel as their manager after the game, I’d have thought though.

Moreover, an unlikely concatenation of results means we’re now fourth in the table. In a promotion play-off spot. Our highest league position in 30 years.*

When will I wake up?

*Edited to add: Our highest league position in nigh on 30 years.

Cowdenbeath 2-4 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Central Park, 11/1/14.

A great win, thoroughly deserved, which takes us 17 points clear of Morton and 9 above Cowden. Mind you, the start was a bit iffy.

The first back pass Stephen Grindlay had to deal with he managed to hit an attacker with and it rebounded to another Cowden player who promptly laid it across goal where the scorer couldn’t miss. Amazingly we were level within about a minute after some ping-pong in their box when Colin Rhyming Slang hit the loose ball home.

We dominated the rest of the half and Mitch Megginson finished well after being put through the middle. The defender who tried to take him out got a yellow card for his trouble. In the meantime Chris Kane also got past a last defender but neither the lino nor the ref saw the jersey pull which stopped him getting his shot away.

They had an opportunity to score again but Stephen Grindlay got a foot in the way. Paul McGinn was right through but clipped his shot just over. Their equaliser came when Stephen Grindlay looked to have an easy clutch but somehow let it spill into a Cowden player.

In the second half we scored early, Chris Kane, who looks to have a bit of pace and effort in him, was well placed to finish off a fine passing move.

Thereafter we sat back a bit and allowed Cowden too much of the ball. They had a free-kick which rattled the bar as the sum total of their threat though and we looked dangerous on the counter, which is where the clincher came from, another great piece of interplay resulting in Mitch getting his second.

The only real chance we gave up came right at the end when one of their players was free in the box but couldn’t get his head to it properly.

I must say Colin Rhyming Slang had a good game today, winning a fair number of aerial balls and having some neat touches as well as scoring.

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