Archives » Danny Handling

Oswestry

The name is enough to bring on a warm glow for any Sons fan, more so to one who was there that unforgettable night, shrouded now in mystic memory.

Not that it was an unalloyed delight. For three-quarters of the game we weren’t in it – and it was a pretty glum experience. I was wondering why I had travelled all that way only for us to surrender meekly. Still we weren’t exactly out of it, not even when The New Saints scored early on the second half. But we gradually started to push forward and even got a couple of crosses in.

Then the moment it all changed with that pass from Kyle Hutton to Danny Handling, the sublime run from Mark Stewart to take away the defender and leave space for the shot, the shot itself, the outburst of almost disbelieving delirium, Danny Handling running up the park in delight, Sons fans applauding and shouting with a kind of relief.

Then a few minutes later the ironic cheers when the referee finally gave a free-kick against their defence for fouling Christian Nade, who’d been getting no joy up till that point.

Up stepped Froxy with that beautiful, beautiful, sublime strike into Sons legend. If his goal at Dunfermline earlier that season hadn’t already made him one, this certainly confirmed it.

Below are the game’s (short) higlights – with Welsh commentary.

Watch Kyle Hutton’s reaction to Froxy’s goal (at about 2 minutes seven seconds in.) It looks like he’s thinking, “Did that just happen?”

Sometimes the football gods are with you, at others not. Pity the final wasn’t so memorable, but that was another story.

Oswestry, however, will stay with me forever.

I took photographs, naturally, of the ground and the town, all coming up.

And of course I have already posted the video of the celebrations at the final whistle.

Alloa Athletic 0-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2 Play-off Final, First Leg, Recreation Park, 9/5/18.

This could have turned out a lot worse. They’ve been going well and we haven’t really.

They had most of the ball in the first five minutes and then we scored in what was in effect our first attack. They didn’t clear the ball properly, left us a lot of space in midfield in their half and Danny Handling fed the ball to Stuart Carswell who fair thumped it. Outbursts of almost disbelieving joy in the away covered seating area. (It’s not a stand.) Carsy never scores. (His only other goal had a big deflection on it but this was an absolute belter, straight in.)

I remarked to Onebrow, “80 minutes of sitting in to go.” It wasn’t quite that but they did have a lot of the ball.

Carsy had our second effort too – again on target. On this evidence he should shoot more often.

They had a cute effort through ex-Son Jordan Kirkpatrick which it seems Scott Gallacher tipped on to the post – from my angle I couldn’t tell he’d got the touch – but apart from that there were only other long range efforts to worry about in the first half.

Second half Robert Nisbet really came onto a game up front before he was shifted into midfield after the substitutions. That’s the best I’ve seen from him. We had a good few efforts, notably Nisbet (just over) and Kyle Hutton (a great ping just past the post.) With a bit more care in the final pass we could have got even better chances.

They only really looked like scoring when we lost possession in their half and they sprang at us. Craig Barr had one superb defensive block (but the guy ought to have pulled the trigger earlier) and Scott Gallagher made a good save the one time he was really called on.

It’s going to be really hard to take if we blow this now, but we can’t afford to get ahead of ourselves; Sunday’s going to be a hard battle again.

Still.

I was there when Carsy scored!

Dumbarton 1-1 Arbroath

SPFL Tier 2 Play-off, Semi-Final, Second Leg, The Rock*, 5/5/18.

This was excruciating. We made it much harder than we ought to have done.

We came out of the blocks well and took the lead with Dougie Hill’s header from a Tom Walsh corner. We kept up the pressure and had several efforts, the best of which probably fell to Andy Stirling but he blazed it over the bar.

We weren’t in any danger till Liam Dick made a poor defensive header and put Andy Dowie in trouble. His short pass back went to their player who had the easiest finish imaginable.

After that we simply fell apart, every effort at the ball rushed, every clearance sclaffed, every second ball not gained.

Despite that we had some efforts on goal in the second half with Tom Walsh beating the keeper and having the ball cleared off the line, Danny Handling through on his own but lacking the pace to beat the defender and finally in injury time Liam Burt chipping the keeper on a one-on-one but missing the goal.

Scott Gallagher did have a few saves to make but was never really troubled.

Referee Craig Charletson was his usual arrogant self. Several times their players went through one of ours and not a free-kick to be had. The only one we got anywhere near their goal was given by the linesman. The man seems to hate us for some reason.

So. We have to go through all this again on Wednesday and Sunday against Alloa. I don’t think my nerves will stand it.

*Now The C&G Systems Stadium after our new, local, sponsors.

Arbroath 1-2 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2 Play-off Semi-final, first leg, Gayfield Park, 2/5/18.

Now here’s a rarity.

I was composing this post in my head just before the final whistle and it began, “Well, I’ve still not seen us win at Gayfield,” when – lo and behold – we do just that, Craig Barr knocking the ball in at the second attempt.

Admittedly this followed an almost continuous run of Sons pressure where both Iain Russell and Liam Burt perhaps should have scored.

But it all ended up rather better than it might have.

Scott Gallacher had already had to make two (comfotable) saves before we threatened their goal but their keepers saves were of a higher order, first from Danny Handling’s header and then from Tom Walsh’s shot from the rebound. A defensive mix-up at the bakk almost let Arbroath score but their forward amazingly pulled it back too far and it escaped the post.

Second half we were more in the game and got the opener when fine work by Andy Stirling allowed him to cross. Tom Walsh’s header was perfect for Calum Gallagher to loop his header over the keeper.

Their equaliser came from a free-kick given at the edge of our box but play should never have got that far as a shove in the back tokk one of ours out of the play in the build-up. The goal encouraged Arbroath and they came at us with Scott Gallagher having to make two fine saves. Then after Iain Russell and Liam Burt came on for Calum Gallagher and Tom Walsh came that late push.

It’s not over yet, Arbroath showed they could theaten us, but we go into Saturday’s second leg in a better position than I had feared.

It will still be a nervy affair though.

Dumbarton 0-1 Inverness C T

Scottish Challenge Cup (Irn Bru Cup) Final, McDiarmid Park, 24/3/18.

I’m a bit deflated at the moment as I’m sure you can imagine. Football can be such a cruel game.

I made the fatal mistake of beginning to hope when Scott Gallacher made the penalty save with about seven minutes to go. But to lose it in the last gasp of injury time was harsh; especially on the players who’d worked so hard.

We had the better of the early exchanges, ranking up several corners (I can’t remember them getting even one in the whole game) and having a shot on target without really troubling the keeper. More worryingly they came into it towards half-time by which time the on target count had become 2-2.

They had more of the second half and did make Scott Gallacher handle the ball a few times. The nearest we came was with a Danny Handling shot which the keeper held. I noticed today that Handling has a terrible habit of turning back with the ball. Who was it back in the day who did that all the time. Paul Quinn? Robert Russell? Not Russell I think, much further back than him.

After his debut for Cyprus yesterday (the Sons’ first full international player since 1932) Froxy came on as a late sub but it was too late for him to affect the game much. The only free-kick he could attempt was from way too far out even for him.

Here’s a photo of my match ticket:-

Irn Bru Cup Final Ticket

Before entering the stand I took a few photos of the ground as it’s the first time I’ve been there. Through a frosted glass window I caught Sons’ manager Stevie Aitken in the dressing room probably trying to get a signal on his phone:-

Stevie Aitken

I’m proud of the lads, they did well. But I’m gutted – for them and for me.

They’ll need to raise themselves for Tuesday night’s game now. At least most of the players who were unavailable for today should be in the squad.

This cup run has probably ruined our league season what with all the postponements. We don’t have a midweek free now until the last week of the season.

But when will be the next time Sons are in a national Cup Final?

Brechi City 1-3 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Glebe Park, 17/3/18

When was the last time we scored three goals? (Last season.)

When was the last time we scored three goals in one half? (I can’t remember.)

This was pretty much over at half-time. We’d scored three without really threatening their goal and lost one to a well-struck free-kick.

We had most of the ball early doors but hadn’t made their keeper make a save. Then we had a flurry of three corners in a row. The two from Andy Stirling were cleared out for more corners. The one from Froxy was headed (by Andy Dowie?) back across goal to an unmarked Calum Gallagher who only had to let the ball bounce off him but headered it anyway.

Then Sam Wardrop was fouled in the act of crossing the ball but not given the award. He tried to carry on but only lasted two more minutes. I hope he only went off as a precaution ahead of next week.

Another Froxy corner was then headed goalwards by Andy Dowie and deflected beyond the keeper by a defender. Two up inside half an hour. Unheard of this season.

They pulled one back with that free-kick. It was well placed but I thought Scott Gallacher was a bit too far across his goal at the set-up.

Things could have been tricky if they had get their heads up but after another Froxy corner not well cleared the ball was squared back across goal by Craig Barr and squirmed about the goal line before Danny Handling poked it home.

The second half was a bit of a non-event with Brechin having most of the ball. They were awarded a penalty. That could have made for a nervy last twenty minutes but it was screwed past the post to make their recent sub Isaac Layne, who had been wanting to take it, not at all a happy bunny.

We had two further chances with both Calum Gallagher and Danny Handling through on the keeper but their shots were too straight.

Three welcome points though.

The New Saints 1-2 Dumbarton

Scottish Challenge Cup*, Semi-final, Park Hall Stadium, 17/2/18

I was at Oswestry!

This is a boast that may be overtaken in a month or so’s time. Or not as the case may be.

Whatever, I was there when the mighty Sons played their first national cup semi-final in 44 years and reached their first national final for 106 years. It’s historic stuff.

Mind you I couldn’t see us achieving that heady goal at any time during the first half. We started poorly and allowed them to play from the outset. They were neat and tidy, passed the ball well, hit the bar with their first attack and continued to look threatening without managing to test Scott Gallacher in goal. I don’t know what the first half possession stats were but we didn’t have much of it that’s for sure. We barely crossed the halfway line and when we did failed to muster any sort of threat on their goal.

I thought it was all over when they scored early on in the second half. Their winger got past stop-gap left back David Smith (a midfielder turned into a makeshift right-back last season) and put in a low cross which from where I was sitting Scottt Gallacher seemed to spill and it fell to the scorer.

The game changed after around the hour mark when Calum Gallagher and Iain Russell were replaced by Mark Stewart and Liam Burt and we started to play.

Still the equaliser was a surprise as we had looked toothless even when we got the ball in their area. It was beautifully worked though with Kyle Hutton winning the ball in midfield before strolling forward and feeding Danny Handling who made space for himself and fairly thumped it past the keeper.

In a hairy moment Scott Gallacher made a one-handed stop for a header after a corner just before the ref whistled for an infringement.

Then. Froxy.

He replaced scorer Danny Handling and slotted into right midfield. I’d watched him at the half-time kick-about and he didn’t look fit to me, but sometimes he doesn’t have to be fit.

It was a free kick given for a foul against Christian Nade (his legs have gone; I don’t know how he lasted the full 94 minutes) – the first he’d got all game despite their centre half being all over him at times. I thought it was too central but Froxy is Froxy, that left foot is something else. Bang. Top left corner. Cue delirium.

It felt like very late on but there were still about ten minutes to get through before the final whistle and I nearly had heart failure when Scott Gallacher had to juggle a shot that must have swerved in the air.

Considering that due to injuries we also had to play a centre half at right back and our midfield wasn’t at its strongest this was an amazing result.

We had only two shots on target in the whole game but they both hit the back of the net. That’s football.

Here’s a video of the scenes after the final whistle. Click on the picture to get to video:-

Sons' Victory Celebrations At Park Hall Stadium Oswestry

*Irn Bru Cup

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