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Dumbarton 2-1 Stranraer

Scottish Challenge Cup*, Third Round, The Rock, 6/10/17.

An odd night statistically. I’m sure that’s the first time we’ve won three Challenge Cup ties in one season and it marks four home games in a row we’ve won 2-1 – and the away game in that sequence was lost by the same score. And we don’t usually beat Stranraer.

I must say Stranraer turned out for this in an ugly black strip with horrible luminous yellow flashings and socks.

We should have had this dead and buried after ten minutes. At least four great chances in that time. Mark Stewart charged down a defender’s forward pass and set up Calum Gallagher who didn’t shoot first time but instead dollied round another defender and his subsequent shot was saved by the keeper’s legs. Then a Chris McLaughlin cross gave Calum Gallagher a free header and he didn’t get anything like enough on it. The goal came after a fine driving run into the box from David Wilson to set up Craig Barr who still had a lot to do but did it superbly. A minute or so later Dimitris Froxylias hit a chance over the bar. Pretty much it for the half except for Scott Gallacher going off to be replaced by Jamie Ewings and us letting Stranraer have too much possession.

Second half followed the pattern of the latter part of the first but we always looked comfortable. Scott Agnew (formerly of this parish) pinged over a few great cross-fields balls with that left foot of his but was otherwise uninfluential.

The game was all but over when Tom Walsh skinned the full back yet again and put over a beautiful cross. Mark Stewart showed Calum Gallagher how it’s done.

Froxy did track back more than I’ve seen him but when on the ball occasionally tried too much. He was perhaps a bit too cute with a late shot which was deflected then cleared off the line.

They had a couple of moments from corners where the ball flashed across the box but were nowhere near clinical and only two shots, both long range, on target in all of normal time both of which Jamie Ewings dealt with easily. Three minutes stoppage time was announced and I thought we might actually get a clean sheet. But another poorly given away and defended corner led to them scoring with the second last touch of the game.

It’s the first time I’ve seen us win this season, since late January at Raith in fact.

I’m glad we’re not in the third tier. I thought Stranraer were brutal (football fan speak for not very entertaining.)

*Irn Bru Cup if you must.

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?

Dumbarton 2-3 Raith Rovers

SPFL Tier 2, The Rock, 16/4/16.

It started well. It finished; well…..

Pity about the bit in between. And the injury to big Christian Nade is a blow as we’ve only looked a team this season after he joined us.

I watched this courtesy of BBC Alba of course and things were looking okay at half time. Tom Walsh had even hit a good cross!

What happened in the second half though? We totally fell out of it even before Nade’s injury. Jamie Ewings didn’t have much of a hope with any of the three goals; a poorish kick-out led to one of them but the defence should still not have let Raith through so easily. They seemed to just walk through for two of the three, the other coming from a not deep enough clearance by Fraser Wright.

Despite never having hit a decent cross before this game Tom Walsh ended this with two assists, and doesn’t Steven Saunders love a goal against Raith? Too little too late of course.

We really need something from Saturday now but a draw against St Mirren might not be good enough. We don’t want to be relying on Rangers and Raith even if Queen of the South do the needful.

I note that with Rangers and Hibs progressing to this year’s final East Fife’s record of being the only team outwith the top division to win the Scottish Cup has now been lost. And wouldn’t it be just the thing if Hibs finally win the thing again after totally horsing up the league? (Or Hibsing it as now seems to be the parlance.)

Mind you it’d be a laugh to see them navigating a European campaign from the second tier.

Then again maybe not.

Dumbarton 4-2 Queen of the South

SPFL Tier 2, The Rock, 12/4/16.

Football’s an odd game and this one was certainly an example. Hardly started when their keeper made an absolute hash of a kick-out, hitting it straight to Christian Nade who strode forward with the ball, shot while still well outside the penalty box and buried it.

A nice settler you’d think in such an important game but we promptly fell out of it allowing Queens too much space and time. But still Garry Fleming could have settled nerves further if he’d put away the chance that came to him but the keeper redeemed himself a little with a good save. Jamie Ewings performed the needful on a one-on-one but only delayed the inevitable. The atmosphere was strangely quiet, the crowd perhaps too nervous to make much noise – except when the stand-side linesman made a ludicrous decision to award a throw-in the wrong way after a ricochet.

Still, Queens’ pressure gradually built up then Ian Russell did what he has done against us ever since he left. Quite why he was given the space at the edge of the box to pick up a headed clearance is another thing entirely.

Then what should have been a body blow when they cut through us just before half-time to take the lead. I couldn’t see us getting anything from the game at that point.

But a few minutes into the second half the match had turned on its head. First Tom Walsh cut out a pass near their penalty area, beat the last defender and curled a beauty high past the keeper into the top corner. In our next foray upfield Christian Nade got his head to a Mark Docherty corner and scored. (It may have bounced off a defender’s back on the way in.)

That same stand-side linesman failed to make a decision at all after a Queens player had got a nick on a crossfield pass and a Queens player took it on himself to take the throw. The ref put his whistle to his lips as if to amend things but didn’t. What are these guys paid for?

It was all still a bit nervous with not much goalmouth action but with five minutes to go after another corner Greg Buchanan was attempting an overhead kick when he was bumped in mid-air and the ref gave the penalty. (It looked a bit six and half a dozen to me but I’ll take it.) Garry Fleming tucked the award away. 4-2. Breathless stuff.

That’s the first time this season we’ve scored more than three in a league game. Timely indeed.

Dumbarton 1-1 Falkirk

SPFL Tier 2, The Rock, 12/3/16.

We wuz robbed!

This is the perennial cry of the frustrated Scottish football fan but I haven’t used it here before as far as I recall.

I wasn’t at the game but of course caught it via the medium of BBC Alba. Twice we had the ball in the net only to have the goal chalked off for offside. Both times the TV replay showed that nobody in a Dumbarton shirt capable of interfering with play was in an offside positon. In the case of the first not only was Christian Nade not beyond the last defender he wasn’t beyond the ball either.

Falkirk started more brightly and we had Jamie Ewings to thank for a magnificent one-handed save to keep us level early on. Falkirk continued to look threatening but didn’t really force another save. I thought we looked pretty comfortable for the rest of the half.

The second followed the same pattern until the penalty. Harsh? Maybe, what can you do with your hands when you’re falling over? I’d have shouted for it at the other end though. The sending-off may be the letter of the law but it was undoubtedly harsh.

It seemed to spur us on though. I thought after the second “offside” goal we were going to get nothing but the boys kept plugging away. No doubt about our penalty, Danny Rogers totally cleaned Nade out. He might have been sent off for it as well as his knees got Nade in the back.

I wasn’t confident of scoring it as it was Danny Rogers in goal and he had a good penalty saving record when he was with us last season but Garry Fleming did the business.

At kick-off I’d have taken the point but this result better not be the one that means we miss 8th place by a point or two…..

Livingston 2-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Almondvale Stadium, 5/3/16.

Opportunity missed. Big time.

Livingston started nervously, seeming to be lacking in confidence. Apart from a brief foray or two we dominated the early exchanges. Several chances went abegging – mostly through Livingston losing the ball in dangerous areas but first Calum Waters delayed his cross too long, then Tom Walsh at least tested the keeper. A magnificent through ball from Waters to Christian Nade ought at least to have produced a shot but he checked back and the chance was lost. At least six Sons corners came and went without any rewal threat to Livi’s goal appearing.

It only takes a goal to boost confidence, though. Unfortunately it wasn’t us who got it. Tom Walsh lost the ball in our attacking third and we were too stretched. There were still chances to block the cross or the attackers but Frazer Wright seemed to slip in the box and despite Jamie Ewings blocking an almost point blank shot he could do nothing about the rebound. A few minutes later Jamie saved us when Gregor Buchanan tried to play football just outside our penalty area, lost the ball and their player was one-on-one. Jamie Lindsay was prominent in midfield first half but faded in the second.

Midway through the second half our 4-1-4-1 changed to 4-4-2 when Garry Fleming came on. Later still in a vain attempt to get something from the game it was 4-3-3 as Donald McCallum was added up front. Jamie Ewings made another good stop, this time from a long range effort. A Jamie Lindsay free kick more or less straight at the keeper was about all we had to show though.

The goal that killed it also ought to have been prevented. Frazer Wright failed to deal with the long ball and again lost his footing, leaving the player with an easy side foot in.

Late on sub Jordan Kirkpatrick beat his man in the box and was caught on the way past: a stonewaller but the ref didn’t give it. Not that it mattered by then as it would have been too late. Perhaps this was karma for all those games at Livi where we’ve gone behind and went on to win.

Christian Nade was fouled throughout the game but got little protection (or support from midfield come to that.) Tom Walsh has some good control and can drift past players but can’t cross; Donald McCallum is eager and quick but lacks strength as yet; he’s not really one to come on when we’re chasing something. The game could be our penance for having Frazer Wright in the side – not that the first goal was entirely down to him. Let’s hope all his mishaps were reserved for this one.

At season’s end this could turn out to have been a pivotal game. In which case it will have tipped against us.

Tuesday’s match against Alloa assumes great importance now.

Dumbarton 3-2 Hibernian

SPFL Tier 2, The Rock, 27/2/16.

I wasn’t at the game – the good lady and I went to an antique fair in Edinburgh then roamed the charity bookshops in Stockbridge before entertaining ourselves with a meal out on the road home – I didn’t even look for the score till nearly midnight so sure was I that we’d get nothing from this.

I was astonished at the result. The best I’d hoped for from this was a 0-0.

Yet we had gone three up. Not so easy to hold on to against a full-time team pressing for promotion; as it proved.

Christian Nade opened his account for us, which is good, and I see Jamie Ewings got the call in goal.

With Livi playing Alloa we certainly needed something from the game. I’m delighted.

Our next two games are against the only two teams below us. It could be our season right there.

Raith Rovers 0-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Stark’s Park, 23/1/16.

A good well-worked point. We deserved the clean sheet for the quality of our defending. The closing down was tremendous, the covering impressive and the blocking committed. We weren’t greatly troubled – usually only when we had given the ball away too near our goal. Jamie Ewings – in goal for the indisposed Mark Brown – had a great save with his feet when he was on the move the other way in the first half and had to fist a driven free-kick away in the second half but otherwise hadn’t a direct shot to save. I suppose there was the Raith effort that seemed to clip the bar* – but that wasn’t on target was it?

We had one cleared off the line after an inventive corner – an inventive corner? Where did that come from? – taken by debutant loanee Tom Walsh who looked okay but was a little too conservative in his decision making. Also notable was the shocking profusion of movement at throw-ins. So un-Sons-like but good to see.

We have an appalling lack of creativity going forward though. Garry Fleming couldn’t hold the ball up at all; which doesn’t help.

As Onebrow reamrked to me just into the second half these two could play all day and not score. That sort of comment is usually a cue for a deluge of goals (against.) Thankfully not on the day.

I was pleased with the point.

*Edited to add: From the highlights it actually hit the post that holds up the net supports.

Dundee 2-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Dens Park, 3/5/14.

Well, that was a strange experience. To see ten thousand opposition fans go from expectation to apprehension to joy then all the way over to fear was something.

It says a lot about our commitment that Dundee spent the last five or so minutes taking the ball to the corner flag.

We had the better of the game – without creating a clear-cut chance – until they scored. Once again our inability to deal with crosses cost us. Their scorer, Nade, was the best player on the park, though, I thought. Maybe Jamie Ewings could have made a better fist of the attempted save but the Dumbarton fans were way up the far end of the ground so it’s hard to tell. It was poor defending for their second too but Jamie had no chance with that one. A Colin Rhyming Slang flick had hit the post in between times but that was as good as it got first half.

Sons fans kept chanting out updates to the Hamilton score – among other gems like, “you only sing when you’re winning,” and, “we forgot that you were here.” A bit like the Aberdeen game.

Second half we pushed them really hard, got the penalty and scored it. There followed two more even better penalty claims after the first of which I said to Big Rab, “We’re never gonna get two today.” That just doesn’t happen to a wee club on a day like yesterday. Their keeper still had to make two great saves to gain them the points though. All this wa sup the far end so I wasn’t quite sure who had the efforts on goal.

Around this time the young Sons choir started singing, “We can smell the shite from here,” at the opposition fans’ discomfort.

There was no barrier at all to the pitch at the stand opposite us. We all knew there was no chance of the invasion not happening at the end. Two other home stands’ occupants also rushed on at the final whistle. For a moment I feared for our players’ safety but they all made it okay. Ian Murray made sure they didn’t run up the tunnel immediately but stayed to congratulate the fans (who reciprocated.) There were several hundred at least of us there yesterday, a good turn out for a nothing game for us.

It was weird to witness such outpourings of relief and joy and not feel a part of it. I’ve been at another side’s promotion winning game before when we were the away team (vs Raith in the 1980s, Dunfermline lost unexpectedly in their game the same day) and it was a very detached feeling then too.

So. We ended the season fifth, with a positive goal difference. I can’t believe it’s over so soon.

Raith Rovers 1-3 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Stark’s Park, 12/4/14

Straight away as the teams came out I noticed their keeper was wearing an all orange number which nearly matched our away strip. It was about ten minutes in before it was changed for a black top. A woman Sons supporter shouted out, “what about the shorts?” Ooh-er, missus. (The shorts were changed for black ones during half time.)

This was a comprehensive win. We had six efforts on target to Raith’s two before we scored. The goal had been coming and Mark Gilhaney’s first time drive when the ball came out to him was a fully deserved result for our endeavours up to then. Jamie Ewings had two excellent saves – one from a defensive header for which he had little time to react but still diverted on to the bar – in the first half.

Our second was a great individual goal from Mitch Megginson, slaloming through their defence before slotting it past the keeper. Does Mitch score ordinary goals?

A comfortable enough first half. I know Raith were missing several midfielders for one reason or another but you can only play the team you’re up against; and we did, rather well.

The third came when Colin Rhyming Slang – who had a good game overall – reacted quickly to the break of the ball in the box to knock it in at the near post.

Their goal followed on from a passage of play notable for the most blatant handball I’ve ever seen, the ball being knocked down by the Raith attacker from about head height as he was on the run. How the ref, two linos and the fourth official between them could not see it is beyond me. The ensuing corner came back out to their player who curled it in well thus ruining our potential first away clean sheet of the season. But the corner should not have been.

Raith had a bit of a flurry after that but any chance they had of more goals was ruined when their defender was given a straight red for denying Garry Fleming a clear goalscoring opportunity and the game kind of petered out after that.

Curiously for the second straight game at Stark’s Park Jordan Kirkpatrick had to leave injured.

There is now not even the arithmetical possibility of a relegation play-off. Fourth place is possible but will be difficult, fifth would still be a remarkable achievement.

Edited to add:- Chris Turner did a lot of quiet, unobtrusive stuff in the game allowing the other midfielders to get on with playing on the front foot.

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