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Dumbarton 2-1 East Fife

SPFL Tier 3, The Rock, 8/4/21.

Well. Two goals.

Count them.

Two goals – and we had a penalty saved. Who’d have thought it?

In one game we have increased our goals tally in the league by 33.33%.

It helped that we scored early; a Ryan McGeever header from a Ross Forbes corner. Typical that my live-streaming feed froze momentarily and I didn’t see it, just heard the commentators go tonto. (I did wind back the feed after the game and saw how thumping a header it was.) McGeever had another close effort – with his foot! – a few minutes later which crashed off the bar and a second free header in the second half where he was way off with his direction.

Thereafter it was not quite like Groundhog Day. We did look to be more on the front foot than in recent games even if East Fife had more possession. They didn’t do a lot with it though – except for Scott Agnew’s delivery at corners which I knew would catch us out in the end, and did. Thankfully that came too late.

Our second goal was a neat through ball from Ross Forbes and a shimmy past the defender by Adam Frizell before he buried it emphatically.

I was still figuratively biting my nails. We’ve cocked up so many games since the restart.

Pity that Clyde also got a win.

On to Cove on Saturday now.

Dumbarton 0-1 Aberdeen

Scottish Cup, Round 3, The Rock, 3/4/21.

We should change our name officially to Dumbarton Nil.

Fair enough they are two leagues above us but they didn’t look great shakes. You might say they were there for the taking.

Admittedly they ought to have won by more then one goal since they created quite a few chances. We were indebted to Sam Ramsbottom and the defence for keeping the score down but on the other hand, that is their job.

But we could have played all week and not scored. (If only that Ryan McGeever chance had fallen instead to Jaime Wilson.)

In fact we have played all week and not scored (except for a deflected shot against Falkirk.) If you’re looking for a reason for our league position it’s right there.

So now we’re likely to be knackered and playing a very good Montrose team on Tuesday night and a not too bad East Fife on Thursday.

The three teams we’ve lost against since the restart are arguably the ones we stood most chance of gaining something from and those games are gone, with zero points to show for them.

Completing the Season

The amended fixtures that will suposedly allow Tier 3 SPFL clubs to complete 18 games for this season have been published.

(After a top five/bottom five split a further four fixtures are proposed to make up a 22 game season – but only if every side has managed to fit the 18 game total in.)

Sons’ games are scheduled as follows:-

Saturday, March 20 – Forfar Athletic (H, 3pm)
Saturday, March 27 – Peterhead (H, 3pm)
Tuesday, March 30 – Falkirk (A, 7.45pm)
Thursday, April 1 – Airdrieonians (H, 7.45pm)
Tuesday, April 6 – Montrose (H, 7pm)
Thursday, April 8 – East Fife (H, 7pm)
Saturday, April 10 – Cove Rangers (A, 3pm)
Saturday, April 17 – Clyde (A, 3pm)
Tuesday, April 20 – Partick Thistle (H, 7.45pm)

To those has to be added the game against Huntly in the Scottish Cup on March 23 (ko 7.45 pm) and a possible tie beyond that if we win.

It’s some schedule, In fact it’s an insane schedule given that we have a less than threadbare squad and no hint of imminent signings.

The players will be dead on their feet by Apr 1 (5 games in 12 days.) There’s also 4 in the seven days Apr 3-10 if we’re in the next round of the Cup. That’s due on Sat Apr 3.

East Fife 2-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, New Bayview, 7/11/20.

Ah well. All good things come to an end. But given last season’s showing East Fife were always going to be testy opponents.

So that’s our clean sheet streak gone.

It seems we played well but had no luck at all.

Reports say we had the ball in the net four times but three were chalked off, somewhat dubiously according to the Daily Record which adds that one of their goals was most likely offside. That’s football for you.

There’s a two week break now from the league during the international games interval but that will be filled with two League Cup (Betfred Cup) games.

Dumbarton 2-4 East Fife

SPFL Tier 2, The Rock, 9/11/2019.

Oh dear. Those clean sheets seem a long way away now.

That’s us now down to sixth. Still, I suppose East Fife have gone up to second, so no disgrace – but they had been stuttering recently.

And it’s another tough one against Falkirk next Saturday, even if they too lost today. They’ll be looking to make up for that – especially since they thumped us at their place earlier in the season.

East Fife 2-2 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, New Bayview, 21/9/19.

I’d have taken a draw before the game but having been 2-0 up (albeit against the run of most of the play) it definitely feels like two points dropped and an opportunity missed.

Then again we haven’t exactly been defensively sound at any point this season (the game at Annan apart) so I’m not at all surprised we couldn’t hold out.

After a brief flurry from Sons at the start East Fife had most of the play in the first half and had several efforts come close. Then in one of our occasional forays up front we got a corner on the right. Joe McKee’s delivery was well met by Morgyn Neill but the keeper made a smart stop down to his left. He had no chance with the header resulting from the subsequent corner, Ryan McGeever powering his header (almost identically flighted by McKee) into the top corner.

They had what looked from our end a stonewall penalty appeal but the ref booked the forward (who didn’t complain) for a dive.

Three minutes into the second half Ruaridh Langan took the ball for a walk in their area and was fouled. Isaac Layne stepped up and despatched the pen. It was too long a time left for any Sons fan to feel comfortable though and East Fife began to throw the kitchen sink at us.

Sure enough they got a man over after a free kick and though Conor Brennan got both hands on the ball somehow it slithered over the line.

East Fife now had their tails up and came at us even more strongly but were leaving gaps at the back as a result.

Still they it was who scored next after McGeever’s clumsy challenge in the box. Again Brennan got both hands to it but it squirmed under him. I merely note that another keeper might have saved both these efforts.

There were several more scares and also a few opportunities for us to score before the end (notably when Matthew Shiels was through one-on-one but he telegraphed his finish which was in any case too weak.) When it came the final whistle was something of a relief.

East Fife looked a good side, spreading it about well, looking like they knew what they were doing and well worth their position at the top of the table so this was a good point in that regard.

We looked good in patches but gave the ball away too often and frequently failed to get a pass away quickly enough and far too often resorting to a punt up to Layne.

Two home games coming up to finish the first quarter. We’ll see where we are by then.

Relief

Well. It’s been a season.

Not the one we’d hoped for, but also not the one that for a long time I feared.

Today’s 3-0 win at home to East Fife, combined with Brechin’s loss at Stranraer and Stenhousemuir’s at home to Forfar means we can not be relegated. There is even an outside possibility we could finish as high as fifth if we win our last two games, but I’d suggest that’s an unlikely scenario.

Where we would have ended up without our four wins against East Fife I dread to think. It’s a seriously odd statistic that we beat them four times this season when we lost to Brechin twice at their place and also twice to Stenhousemuir. Still, that’s what a league is all about.

A stress-free last two games of the season await but memories of Dom Thomas apart, this has been one to forget, really.

I don’t suppose it’ll be long before I get to worrying again, though. July is only three months away.

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.

East Fife 0-2 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, New Bayview*, 4/8/18.

A welcome three points and deserved in the end. It’s a long time since I’ve felt comfortable watching us protecting a lead. It didn’t seem likely they’d score once we’d gone ahead.

Having said that they ought to have scored in the first half. Their forward got more or less a free header which Grant Adam palmed away to the side but none of our defenders picked up the loose ball and the East Fife player who did looked to have an open goal after rounding Adam but didn’t pull the trigger and ended up moving across goal and having his final shot blocked.

We were pretty anonymous for the first quarter but came into the game towards half-time. Stuart Carswell picked up a clever Ross Forbes free kick on the edge of the box and forced a save then Willie Dyer’s cross from an overlap nearly went in, clipping the underside of the bar.

The second half had barely started when we went ahead from a Ross Forbes corner, Andy Dowie powering it in. The second goal was another Forbes corner but from the away end it looked like the keeper had saved Calum Gallagher’s header. The linesman and ref gave it, though, and there was no protest from the home side.

From then on we held them at bay reasonably easily. Sub Michael Paton latched on to a superb Forbes through ball, beat their keeper but the ball rebounded from the post.

Of the players new to me Cammy Ballantyne had a good spark about him at right back before going off injured and Rory Loy bristled about up front and did his share of tracking back too.

Folk round me were trying to remember the last time we’d won the first league game of a season. I realised on the way home it wasn’t that long ago, three years to be precise. We won the first two then.

Still early days though.

*Call it the Locality Hub Bayview Stadium if you must.

Fixtures Time

The league fixtures for 2018-19 have benn announced on the club website.

First up is East Fife away – which makes it almost a home game for me.

(Not quite. The Raith games are closer.)

Lots of trips to Angus there though.

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