Archives » Iain Russell

Raith Rovers 4-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Stark’s Park, 23/3/19.

We just weren’t at it for this game.

Mind you, the line up was odd with Carsy playing at centre back and Michael Paton in midfield. Neither Ross Perry nor Brian McLean could have been available at centre half despite no mention on the club website of them having problems.

We had a fair bit of possession in the first few minutes without making anything of it. Then the doors fell off. A quick movement up our right led to a good first time strike hitting the back of our net. But we had been carved open far too easily.

They began to look faster and sharper than us, getting to second balls quicker.

Their second followed a misjudgement by Craig Barr who failed to cut out a through ball. David Ferguson’s last ditch challenge only fed the ball to the scorer.

Grant Adam had no chance with either shot. His kicking had started off OK but soon started to become atrocious. It’s a liability.

Hope blossomed when a great ball inside the full back allowed Bobby Barr to the bye-line and his cut-back was netted by Calum Gallagher.

If we’d held out to half-time we might perhaps have made a game of it but Grant Adam came out for a ball he’d no hope of ever getting, letting ex-Son Kevin Nisbet head into an empty net. Last effort of the half. That was game over.

I wondered at the restart if our goal would survive more than the ten minutes it had in the first. It didn’t. Nine minutes in they got past the defence too easily again. Grant Adam parried the shot – but only to Nisbet’s head. Game really over.

We looked utterly disjointed, loads of hoofed balls to nowhere, misplaced passes galore, Dom Thomas reverting to ‘hit it at the earliest opportunity’ even when playing a pass was the much better option. Even so I was surprised when he was hooked off in favour of Iain Russell but Beany almost scored with his first touch, the ball crashing off the bar. It looked easier to score. That’s the sort of day we had.

Four of the teams around or below us picked up points as well. We could be back in eighth place on Tuesday when Stranraer play Brechin.

This looks like going down to the wire.

Montrose 1-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Links Park, 3/11/18.

Well that was the shortest new manager bounce possible.

If anyone thought appointing Jim Duffy would make getting out of the mess we’re in easy this game should have disabused them of the notion. We put in a few reasonable crosses in the first half but apart from a Calum Gallagher sclaff towards the near post and a good save by the keeper from a one-on-one with Iain Russell we were pretty much toothless and didn’t improve in the second.

Not that Montrose were much better. They weren’t any more than competent. But they were competent. And they managed to score even if Chris Smith in goal really didn’t have anything to do. He had no chance with the strike – hit from much the same spot as Calum Gallagher’s effort in the first half – and the only other time he was called on was in the dying embers when we were chasing the game and left ourselves a bit short at the back and he stood up to the shot well.

So, bottom of the league.

The only way is up?

We’ll see.

Stenhousemuir 2-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Ochilview, 1/9/18.

There was a dreadful inevitability about this.

Apart from a few minutes after they equalised – when it looked like the score might be something like six each so fragile did both defences appear – we seemed mostly in control, yet without managing to create clear chances, but not quite secure at the back.

New loanee Jack Aitchison put himself about a bit and had some neat touches, it was his control and pass that set up Iain Russell for the cross which Rory Loy flicked on for Bobby Barr to score, but I suspect he found the game an eye-opener – not least in not getting free-kicks against adult defenders who disguise the foul well. Also new at centre-half Scott Allardice seemed nervy at times while midfielder Brad Spencer could be careless with his passing.

That equaliser posed several questions as to positioning, both of the defence and goalkeeper Grant Adam, whose tendency to flap at balls in the air and to slice right-footed clearances thankfully wasn’t too prominent in this game. He doesn’t get much depth on his kicks though.

Edited to add:- I’d forgotten the great pass Aitchison laid across the box for Bobby Barr in the second half. Unfortunately Barr pulled it just wide.

The real game changer was the substitution of Ryan Thomson by Ross Forbes. Okay manager Stevie Aitken did it to try to win the game and Forbes made two great passes and had a shot on goal within minutes of coming on but while Thomson hadn’t looked entirely comfortable and was on a booking he made a fair fist of right back but Spencer looked like he’d never played there in his life. Twice he was got at and we survived the resultant cross. Not the third time.

And so after five games we sit second from bottom and only off the bottom spot by goal difference. The four teams we’ve not yet faced are above us – in some cases considerably.

I do hope that once the injuries clear up things will improve but at the moment it’s looking like the last time we dropped down into Tier 3.

A straight fall into Tier 4 (which was followed by total rock bottom of that division the next season.)

This time around there isn’t the safety net of no relegation out of there.

Brechin City 3-2 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Glebe Park, 25/8/18.

OK we didn’t have our injury problems to seek – we couldn’t fill the bench yesterday – so players were shoehorned in all over the place and then we suffered two more injuries during the game.

But…

We were two goals up. And seemingly cruising.

Fair enough Brechin had more of the ball early on but they never threatened to score. Bobby Barr beat his man and slipped over a great cross which Rory Loy couldn’t put on target. Then a corner wasn’t cleared away but fell to Barr on the other edge of the box. His effort looked like a cross to me – intended for Iain Russell – but the keeper’s fingertips perhaps diverted it enough for it to make the net. Not long after Iain Russell was one-on-one but the keeper managed to get his knee to the shot.

Michael Paton had been looking comfortable enough but suddenly pulled up after a challenge clutching his hamstring. Sub 1. Ross Forbes on.

Grant Adam in goal never inspired confidence, punching balls he could easily catch and an absolute nightmare on his right foot.

At half-time Stuart Carswell came out of the dressing room to run about and stretch a bit but didn’t last long after the interval, leaving to make room for Sub 2, a trialist (Brad Spencer apparently.)

He it was who cracked in the second a bit after Iain Russell had had a headed chance from a Bobby Barr cross which maybe came a bit behind him. From there it ought to have been plain enough sailing but the ref gave them a free-kick on the halfway line for a foul that never was and they managed to score from the attack. From then on it was not comfortable watching. Our makeshift defence began to creak and bend and despite some flurries – Rory Loy having the feet taken from him in their box only for nothing to be given, Bobby Barr being cleaned out on the edge of their box, a failure to pull back the play when Iain Russell was caught after releasing the ball and absolutely clattered into the surround fence resulting in an offside goal from third sub Calum Gallagher (well taken but offside.) No goal, no free kick. The ref by this time was a joke. He’d simply stopped giving fouls for anything.

Our defence by this time had become a shambles especially when our midfielders or attackers lost possession. Brechin more or less walked through it for their last two goals, the final one way into injury time. I suppose it’s karma for our first win there last season also through an injury time goal.

Things are not looking good though.

If they don’t look up we’re heading for a relegation battle.

Even this early in the season.

Spartans 0-0 Dumbarton

Scottish League Cup (Betfred Cup) Group H, Ainslie Park, 14/7/18.

And so it begins again. It only seems yesterday that we lost the play-off final yet here we are again, playing competitive football.

Well, I say competitive, but this had all the feel of a pre-season game. Given it’s mid-July and the World Cup hasn’t even finished yet that’s not so surprising.

We never looked in danger of losing a goal, though. But nor did we look much like scoring in the first half. Things improved in the second when we looked to raise the pace a bit and especially when Andy Little and Calum Callagher came on for Iain Russell and Ryan Thomson, both looking much livelier than the pair they replaced.

It was an odd sort of game not helped by the sunshine (football in Scotland isn’t meant to be played in such temperatures) and a clash between our new away strip’s red shorts and those of Spartans meaning we came out wearing the new black home shorts with the new away red shirts. We looked like a Brechin City tribute act.

And so to award the bonus point to separate drawn teams we went to a penalty shoot-out. We won. Only the second time I’ve seen us win one.

Another Sons fan gaily remarked afterwards that the last time we won a shootout (the one I saw) we went on to win the league. Early days, son. Steady on.

Still there were signs the new players were beginning to gel. I liked the fact that former (and new again) Son Ross Forbes kept demanding the ball in midfield. We also seemed to change formation a couple of times throughout the game. That’s a potentially good innovation.

And so my first visit to Ainslie Park passed off relatively quietly.

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.

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

Livingston 2-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Almondvale Stadium, 27/1/18

Well, we couldn’t punch our way out of a paper bag today.

All the more annoying for the fact that we had the majority of the ball in the early part of the game yet had no efforts on target to their 4 before they scored – another lost from a set piece.

The second was just laughable, when (Andy Dowie was it?*) got himself into a fankle on the edge of our box and as a result the ball was on a plate for Ryan Hardie to score against us for a fourth different club.

Game over.

We did eventually make their keeper make a save (four in all I made it) but all of those came from long range.

Our starting formation was an odd managerial choice in 3-4-2-1. We did look slightly better when Froxy came on for Dougie Hill in the second half and we shifted to 4-3-1-2 but by that time Livvy were comfortably in control of the game and looked at ease in everything they did.

New loan signing Kevin Nisbet did look to have something to him but both he and Iain Russell really got very little service, neither of them had achance of any description.

So it has come to pass. We’re now in ninth place. I know we’ve suffered with injuries but even with most of them back I seriously doubt that we’ll improve on that position by season’s end. Nerve-wracking play-offs loom.

*Apologies/ It seems it was Dougie Hill

Peterhead 2-3 Dumbarton

Scottish Cup, Round Four, Balmoor Stadium, 23/1/18

Well I went to Peterhead, but I didn’t go to the game.

I’d booked a hotel for the Friday night of the original date, before the postponement, and we took the opportunity to wander around the Northeast but I didn’t feel up to repeating the trip three days later.

At least it was a win and notable for Iain Russell once again opening his account for Sons. The first of many I hope.

It means a trip to Greenock for the next Round but unfortunately also another postponement as one or other of the clubs will be involved in the Sixth Round of the Cup on the scheduled date for our league game at Cappielow.

Dumbarton 1-1 Alloa Athletic

SPFL Tier 2, The Rock, 4/12/13.

I feared the worst when I tuned in to the club’s website for the twitter feed and saw we were a goal down. But we’ve come back in a few games recently so not all hope was lost.

In the end I saved it for teletext after the game.

It seems Brian Prunty did his overhead kick thing again. Against one of his old clubs too! I can’t remember too many of our players finding the net against previous employers; it usually happens the other way. (Iain Russell’s a shoo-in to score against us today.)

A draw’s not too shabby out of this. I’d like to see us start picking up points at home but it seems we just play better away.

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