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Dunfermline Ath 2-2 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, East End Park, 25/11/17.

In the end this was one point more than I thought we’d get but in reality two dropped.

First half we were in control but neither side really looked like scoring. It was a good enough game nevertheless – even if Dunfermline appeared poorer than a team in third place in the division ought to be. They weren’t really on it, but that may have been due to us not letting them play. Not that that would excuse their misplaced passes…

I have to say the atmosphere im the away end was brilliant with youngsters having brought along a drum. I’m sure this must have communicated to the players. It was noisy enough!

Second half things livened up a bit. I’d just remarked to Onebrow that om Walsh’s shooting could be improved. Next move he opened the scoring, taking the ball up, moving past a man and placing his shot into the corner. We could see it was in and the keeper wasn’t going to get it from the moment it left his foot.

It didn’t last long. Just after they made a double substitution a ball into our box was taken down and as soon as the player turned with it I knew it was going in.

Our first sub had a spectacular effect. Our Dimitris, back from injury, came on, with his first two touches of the ball swept past two defenders and with his third pinged it across the keeper into the far top corner. A goal to grace any game. Wonderful. Mind you he was pretty anonymous from then on, apart from having his legs taken away from him towards the end.

Dunfermline then threw everything at us and despite some good defending up to that point unfortunately with a minute or so to go managed to get their second equaliser after a bit of ping-pong in our box. So a potential three points became one.

The referee was poor though. A lot of decisions went against us when they shouldn’t have. At one point one of Dunfermline’s players threw himself into Christian Nade and bounced off him. Free kick to Dunfermline! Several times their players went right through one of ours and we didn’t even get a free kick, still less the yellow cards the challenges deserved. Nick Walsh was the guilty man.

But the performance showed we can compete with teams in this division.

Brechin City 0-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Glebe Park, 4/11/17.

So, a welcome return to the Glebe. Though the beech hedge has been given a terrible scalping.

This was a reminder of what lower league Scottish football is all about. Standing on the touchline two feet from the referee’s assistant, hearing all the verbals between the players. Pity about the standard of the football….

This was a bit of huff and puff, not much real quality on show. Not surprising really considering the import of the game. Plus we were missing about six players for various reasons.

We had much the best of the first half and made a few openings but nothing ever quite clear cut, Brechin always getting a body in the way. During a succesion of corners which all came to nothing I began to wonder if we’d suffer a sucker punch in the second half.

That looked more likely after the interval as we fell badly out of it and Brechin pressed. But they didn’t open us up either; only a long range effort put Scott Gallacher under any pressure but it cannoned off the top of the bar. This was the sort of game which our Dimitris could have made his own and the absence of Christian Nade shows how little we have in the way of aerial threat without him.

With a few minutes left the ball fell to Tom Walsh in Brechin’s box. Here’s the chance I thought. His shot too went over. That there was at least two points gone, it seemed.

That reckoned without Chris McLaughlin who got down the line one more time and whipped over his cross into that six yard danger area. It bounced off a Brechin player and towards the goal. It felt like it took ages before trundling into the back of the net. It’s the sort of goal a team concedes when nothing is going for it. Brechin must have been gutted.

Yet overall we deserved the win I would say, especially for our first half dominance. Special mention to Kyle Hutton, who gets a lot of stick from Sons fans but more or less ruled the midfield today. His long passing can be awry but when he keeps it short things are better.

Livingston 2-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Almondvale Stadium, 30/9/17.

On another day we would have won this.

We started quite brightly but they soon came into it. By the time they scored I felt it had been coming. For the rest of the first half we showed nothing – not even a shot on target in the whole half. Froxy looked a good player with the ball at his feet but sometimes wanting defensively. Their goal was another lost to a set piece. That needs sorted.

Second half was a different story. We dominated it with Tom Walsh skinning their right back almost at will. Unfortunately his crosses were not met by any of our players. Christian Nade did have a header that crashed off the bar and cruelly bounced off the line. In the meantime Livi had begun the time-wasting early.

In the end Tom Walsh did it all by himself, again taking the right back to the cleaners before his shot beat the keeper. From our angle it looked like he’d chucked it in but there may have been a deflection.

For a while after that we looked very lively and Walsh again tried to beat the keeper at his near post but this time he saved it.

Livi came out of their shell and started to threaten. If they’d played like that the whole half they might have found the game a lot more comfortable.

Communication at the back seems a problem for us. It was an attempted header backwards that undid us, their forward pouncing on it to head home.

From then on Livi’s time-wasting was even more blatant.

A frustrating day in the end. Two, or even three, points lost.

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.

Dumbarton 0-0 Annan Athletic

Scottish League Cup, The Rock, 25/7/17.

Well I said we don’t do cups.

As if it wasn’t bad enough we were down to the bare bones squad wise Christian Nade has to go and get himself sent off for language. Whatever it was he said he should have said it in French.

I knew we wouldn’t get anything from this game when I heard Craig Charleston was going to be the ref. Apparently four out of the last five Sons players to be sent off have been by him. He may have evened it up a bit later on by sending off one of theirs but that wasn’t early enough to make a difference it would seem.

How many fit subs will we scrape together on Saturday? Two – one of them being Jamie Ewings?

Clyde 2-1 Dumbarton

Scottish League Cup, Broadwood Stadium, 22/1/17.

Well.

New season, new players – I had only seen two of the starters in a Sons shirt before (there were three from last season on the pitch by the end) – same old story. We don’t do Cups.

We never looked in trouble in the first half, passed it about fairly well but without much penetration. Loan signing Ally Roy had an opportunity to score first-time from a cross but struck it into the ground and it looped over the bar. The goal came from a corner that wasn’t cleared and from the returned ball Craig Barr headed it against the bar. It came down and was scrambled away but thelinesman gave the goal. Chris Johnston on the wing appeared lively but only once got past his man who got back to block the cross. In the end he flattered to deceive.

We didn’t step it up in the second and Clyde came more into it finally forcing Scott Gallacher into a save.

We looked vulnerable at the corners Clyde were getting but the equaliser was a fluke, a poorly cleared corner returned in a cross which looped over everyone into the corner of the net.

Their second was also poor defensively, a cross again following on from a corner not being cut out and a free header put past defender and keeper on the near post.

Christian Nade was brought on and his first touch was a drive which required a good save from the keeper. David Wilson tested their keeper in a similar fashion a minute or so later but that was it.

A bit more urgency throughout the game might have seen us win. Injuries haven’t been kind to us even so early on but this game suggested we don’t have a good depth of squad.

Early days but the league is looking a tougher proposition by the day.

A curiosity. We played in our away top but home shorts:-

Dumbarton FC

Hibernian 2-2 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Easter Road, 18/3/17

I’d have taken this result before kick-off, but given we were twice in the lead and all three teams below us managed to win, it somehow feels more like two points dropped rather than one gained. It was a great performance by the lads just the same, every single one of them putting a shift in. There’s no doubt Hibs are a better team with better players but they failed to carve us open anything like consistently and we deserved the draw. The occasion was also livened up by the “Swiss Sons” – on their annual visit – keeping up their usual bouts of chanting; some in a language which I could not decipher.

Hibs had a lot of possession first half but not much in the way of efforts on goal to show for it whereas we had two Andy Stirling shots; unfortunately he snatched at them and they went wild. He it was though who was the subject of a wild swipe by one of their defenders. From where I was way up the other end it looked about two yards outside the box but the ref gave a penalty. I have since seen a still photo on Pie and Bovril which seems to show the contact was made inside, so fair dos. We don’t often get freebies from refs anyway. Big Christian Nade stepped up and slotted it home. We navigated the rest of the first half with not much problem. During half time I offered the opinion that Hibs could, just possibly, be given a soft penalty.

The expected onslaught at the beginning of the second half didn’t quite materialize and we had a fair bit of possession but they did gradually ramp it up. Alan Martin made a great save from a thumped effort but they eventually scored when a cross seemed to be knocked on to Daniel Harvie by Martin’s touch and rebounded into the net.

We might have expected there to be only one way traffic from then on but we did occasionally sally up the park and a long ball was met perfectly by Nade to guide it into the path of Robert Thomson whose movement had taken him into space and he swept it past the keeper (whose positioning seemed to me to be too far to the left of his goal; but hey-ho.)

Then drama. The predicted soft penalty for Hibs duly arrived but Alan Martin made a magnificent save. A lead still to defend. Unfortunately a long ball to the edge of our box resulted in a mix-up between an attacker, David Smith and Alan Martin where Martin failed to collect the ball when he might have been favourite. I’ve seen fouls against the keeper given on such occasions but 2-1 up at Easter Road against Hibs? Perhaps too much to hope for. Despite Smith’s efforts the attacker managed to get it into the net. We survived a barrage of corners throughout and made it to the end with Hibs not ever really looking likely to score again.

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that while he’s still a presence Nade’s legs have gone. He can still hold the ball up but if opponents crowd him he doesn’t often get it away to a team mate. He’s a nuisance to defenders still though.

Days like this, a draw away at a big club, beating the odds, are what makes being a fan of a wee team worthwhile. They don’t come round that often and are relished all the more when they do. It’s just a pity that the overall reward was slipping a place in the league. Next Saturday’s game at Ayr assumes greater importance now.

Dunfermline Athletic 5-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, East End Park, 4/3/17.

What can I say about a shambles like this? We were awful from the start. Apart from a Robert Thomson effort from very long range in the first few minutes – well saved by the keeper – we didn’t worry them at all till late in the first half by which time we were two down and Stuart Carswell had walked off the pitch with a bloody nose after a “disagreement” with Mark Docherty on losing the second goal.

Misplaced passes, failed interceptions, overcommitting, lack of communication: had we trained together at all at any time before today?

Andy Stirling did manage an effort on target and then the keeper made another save from a Robert Thomson header and the David Smith follow up just before half time. A goal for us then might have improved things – but then again it might not.

Dunfermline’s pressing had pretty well smothered us and ours was ineffective at best.

The second half was even worse, only a Christian Nade header well over the bar to show until our goal near the end – and all the while our defence was parting like the Red Sea. Marking was non-existent and three of their goals were very similar close range headers.

I hadn’t believed it would be possible for us to give a worse defensive performance than our last one at this venue in the first league game this season but I was wrong.

Daniel Harvie’s late goal after a brilliant back-heel from Garry Fleming was no consolation though Harvie enjoyed it.

Christian Nade looks very lacking in pace and fitness and seems mostly to want to procure fouls – which refs are unwilling to give.

I hope the wheels haven’t come off the bus but we looked totally lost in this game.

That contretemps between Docherty and Carswell needs resolving quickly and boots up several backsides are in order.

We were sprightly and incisive last week at Falkirk but didn’t look anything like the same team in this one.

Next week’s game is now huge.

Falkirk 2-2 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Falkirk Stadium, 25/2/17.

The referee was Mat Northcroft again.

Despite that – and his usual baffling decisions – it was a decent enough game, even if both teams weren’t quite at it.

Falkirk didn’t really threaten much in the first half. We forced a few corners early on but fell out of it a bit. Their goal may have been a fluke. Their left back was played in and hit it on the volley from where it looped over Alan Martin’s outstretched hand and into the net.

Our equaliser was a peach and came within a minute. Lewis Vaughan picked up the ball and ran at their defence, evading three men before dodging into the box and thumping it across Danny Rogers into the top corner. Honours even at half-time.

Our second ended up a mirror image of our first. Christian Nade chased down a ball in midfield, dispossessed the Falkirk player and played it to Andy Stirling who proceeded to waltz past defenders and then despatch it past Rogers the opposite way to Vaughan. Beautiful stuff.

Unfortunately we couldn’t keep the lead though there was a hint of offside about their equaliser. They did have the ball in the net again but that offside was given and we cleared a shot off the line. They had a looping effort that hit the outside frame of the goal and Daniel Harvie’s header from a corner also hit their bar.

A draw was just about right and a point was more than I expected from the game. It’s awfully tight just above the play-off places though.

Raith Rovers 1-3 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Starks Park, 28/1/17.

What an odd set of emotions this evoked. We won and I’m still raging at the referee.

We had the better of the first half, Robert Thomson and Sam Stanton had good efforts on target and I was beginning to think we might regret not scoring when on top. I didn’t expect to lose a blatantly illegal goal. Daniel Harvie was shoved over by the forward in the build-up – how the ref and stand-side assistant missed it is beyond belief – and the subsequent cross was converted. 1-0 down at half-time having played well with nothing to show for it I feared the worst.

Second half we started brightly and got the goal when Christian Nade headed in from a cross. Then the second decision under the Val McDermid stand that was criminal. Andy Stirling cut inside the fullback and looked to be scythed down in the box. even if there was no contact he was taking avoiding action from the lunge and that still makes it a penalty. No penalty. Andy Stirling got booke dfor “diving”. Why would he have dived? He wouldn’t have gone over in that position if not fouled. It definitely was not a dive. No-one dives at that angle. It was a pen and a sending off. That decision could have cost us. In many a game it would have. Today though Raith weren’t up to much.

Our second was a thing of beauty. A piece of intricate passing up the right seemed to have got us up a blind alley but the ball was suddenly switched over to the left and Daniel Harvie steamed onto the ball, took a few paces and lamped it into the far corner.

Six minutes later we made it three. A low corner looked to be a wasted one but it evaded everybody and reached Gregor Buchanan beyond the far post and his shot crashed in.

We saw out the rest of the game with not much trouble and Sons’ 87 fans making a noise fit for many more.

Those two decisions weren’t the only bad ones in the game but I can’t recall any iffy ones the ref made going in our favour including loads where he let things go which he should have pulled back for a foul for us. At one point he and the assistant stared at each other for seconds not knowing what to give. Eventually it went Raith’s way, of course. But those two in particular had been so appalling that even though we were winning somehow I still felt we weren’t and had been robbed. It is apparently not the first game this ref has given baffling decisions mostly against us. Let us name the guilty man. Mat Northcroft.

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