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New League Cup Group

Football? What football?

Saturdays are empty at the moment, no trepidation in the run-up, no joy or despair at 4.45.

It seems an age since I posted news about Dumbarton FC.

Still, Sons’ opponents in this year’s League Cup (Betfred Cup) have been announced.

Kilmarnock, Dunfermline Athletic, Falkirk and Clyde make for pretty stiff opposition.

Something to look forward to, though. (Or perhaps, dread.)

Dumbarton 3-1 Forfar Athletic

Scottish Cup,* Third Round, The Rock, 23/11/19.

Well, we’re through. This was an odd game though.

After a fairly even start we scored after a neat move culminated in Isaac Layne passing to Adam Frizzell who still had a lot to do, beating a man before shooting. It appeared to deflect a little but still it seemed the keeper might have done better.

We immediately fell out of it, surrendering the midfield and allowing Forfar to flood forward. Consequently it wasn’t a surprise that they equalised but it was a shocking goal to lose, as nobody seemed to put in a challenge before the cross which was headed out to a Forfar player totally unmarked on the edge of the box. His curled shot was just watched into the net by everybody.

Despite Forfar having most of the game they didn’t actually force Connor Brennan in goal into any saves after that except for dealing with crosses and the like. (I use ‘dealing with’ in the widest sense as in one case he palmed the ball out almost straight to a Forfar player who thankfully didn’t make the most of it.)

In what seemed like our first foray up the field in a long time we won a corner. Stefan McCluskey swept in the corner for Ryan McGeever to power a header into the bottom corner.

It was soon all over as the most Route One goal you’ll ever see came when their centre half misjudged a Connor Brennan kick-out and Isaac Layne latched onto the ball to drive it past the advancing keeper.

At 1-1 I was dreading them scoring as we could really do with them not getting the confidence boost a win could have brought. The way we played today I doubt we’d have got back in the game. Unfortunately Stranraer achieved just that likely boost against Dunfermline today. Let’s hope that it’s short-lived.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be too harsh as we were missing the influential Joe McKee today. His general play and delivery from crosses and set-pieces is a big asset. Also out was Rhegan Tumilty, I assume because his parent club doesn’t want him cup-tied.

*William Hill Scottish Cup

Dunfermline Athletic 4-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, East End Park, 28/4/18.

Well. This season just keeps going from bad to worse.

In a game where everybody just needed to get through it with no one doing anything silly one of our centre-halves manages to get himself sent off after nine minutes meaning the rest of the team has to put in a harder shift than they may have been anticipating. Plus it means he’ll be suspended for at least the first of the play-off games when we’re down beyond the bare bones already.

At least the damage was kept to four though Dunfermline may have eased up to save themselves for their play-off. All academic anyway.

And so it’s off to Arbroath on Wednesday night, a place where our record is not stellar, to put it mildly. I’ve never seen us win there. The draw that took us to the play-off final all those years ago now doesn’t count. It was a draw.

The best we can hope for is to keep it tight before the second leg at the Rock next Saturday.

I’m not hopeful.

Dumbarton 0-1 Dunfermline Athletic

SPFL Tier 2, The Rock, 6/1/18.

I was hoping for at least a point from this game but it wasn’t to be.

I certainly didn’t expect Falkirk to go rampant against the team in second place. It seems they have finally got their act together; as was always likely.

So it looks like 9th place is probably the best we can hope for.

I’ve also now got the fear for our Scottish Cup game up at Peterhead in a fortnight. They’re on a great run and seemingly scoring for fun.

Nervous times.

St Mirren 0-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, St Mirren Park, 2/12/17.

What a welcome – and unexpected – three points.

Mind you we’ve apparently played quite well the past few weeks – certainly did at Dunfermline – and with St Mirren having gone down to ten men just before half-time I would have been disappointed not to take anything from the game. But I’d have snatched your hand off for three points before it started.

I was reduced to listening to the radio in the car for snippets and was increasingly worried we wouldn’t score in the second half but Tom Walsh came up trumps and – marvel of marvels – we held out for the win. (If only we’d done that in the past two games we’d only be below Queen of the South* on goal difference.)

Too early to get carried away though but surely we needn’t fear anybody in this league.

Down to earth with a bump next week?

*Edited to add: And Dunfermline, and only a point below Morton! I was only looking at 6th place when I originally posted.

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.

Dumbarton 1-0 Elgin City

Scottish Cup, Round Three, The Rock, 18/11/17.

Well, it’s not the debacle of last year’s Cup effort….

But a win’s a win and we’re in the hat for the next round.

Can’t ask for more really.

And we still weren’t at full strength. Three clean sheets in a row ought to be good for confidence but next up is Dunfermline away in the league. They were scoring for fun earlier in the season.

Dumbarton 0-4 Dunfermline Athletic

SPFL Tie 2, The Rock, 26/8/17.

A doing. What I feared before the game. They’ve been cruising and are now top of the table.

Going down to ten men for the last fifteen minutes doesn’t help when you’re a part-time team up against full-timers. Those two late goals might be crucial at the end of the season. But then again unless we can score ourselves they won’t mean a thing.

In that context, it’s beginning to look as if those two points we’ve got so far weren’t as good as they might have been.

Dunfermline Athletic 4-3 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, East End Park, 6/8/16.

The main positive about this is that the goal difference isn’t as bad as it might have been.

The writing was on the wall early as Dunfermline were awarded a penalty after a frankly ridiculous, totally unneccessary, challenge by Ryan Stevenson. Thankfully the boy hit it against the post and it screwed out of danger. Stevenson was employed as a defensive midfielder – an utterly bizarre decision by boss Stevie Aitken. His tackling is ineffective at best and his influence as a creator was muted there. It was his free-kick that led to our first though; well-hit, it looked to be going wide but it seems their keeper knocked it out to Robert Thomson who did the needful. We Sons fans were behind the goal up the other end so the view wasn’t the best.

Step up new goalkeeper Alan Martin who made a magnificent point blank save from a header. The inevitable was only delayed though and a passing move cut us wide open. Their second saw three defenders attempt to block the shot but it was delayed and as a result they weren’t in position to deal with the final effort. Their corners in the first half gave me constant frights. Martin seems very reluctant to control his penalty box in such situations, leaving the ball to defenders to deal with. One such resulted in a goal-line clearance having to be made by a header. His kicking could also be improved but overall he’s not in the Mark Brown class of potential calamity. Nevertheless we managed to survive till half-time.

Things were going okay second half with Dunfermline not making too much of their possession bar a header Martin had to save. Then came the fatal blow. Martin didn’t punt a pass-back but instead played it to Frazer Wright. Fraz was clearly not fully fit, limping his way through the game even in the first half. I had noticed this at the Dundee game.

Anyway his attempt to pass to Gregor Buchanan was scuffed straight to an attacker who didn’t fail to make the most of it. Ryan Stevenson was then subbed by Donald McCallum before Fraz made way for Mark Docherty who immediately showed he was not yet up to the pace of the game and lost out to an attacker with the result the game was over at 4-1.

Except curiously it wasn’t. Young Donald was a bright spark up front and was unlucky to have a neat flick blocked otherwise he’d have scored. We suddenly had a lot of possession and in injury time were awarded a penalty (which I’m convinced would not have been given if the score had still been close.) Mark Docherty put it away well. Then less than a couple of minutes later we had another when Robert Thomson – who’d been manhandled all game – was wrestled over in the area. Again Sparky beat the keeper.

So in the end a potentially bad defeat turned into a close defeat. But….. There’s an awful lot of work needed in defence (and defensively in midfield) to get us anywhere near where we need to be.

Fixtures

The league fixtures for next season have come out.

It might seem ridiculous given Hearts and Rangers have gone from this division but every year it just looks harder.

I don’t like the fact we’re facing Dunfermline at their place for the first game. They ought to be on a high after promotion. Mind you, what sort of form either side might be in after the League Cup section games is anyone’s guess. Their group looks reasonably tough.

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