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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.

Stenhousemuir 2-2 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Ochilview, 29/12/18.

Well this was a mustn’t lose – and we almost lost. Thankfully we didn’t.

On our first half performance it would have been deserved – we created nothing and had only one shot on target, Ross Forbes’s free-kick right on half-time despatched with aplomb and hit so hard the keeper couldn’t keep it out. Their goal was a defensive travesty, a litany of mistakes strating with a poor Stuart Carswell ball out (I’m not blaming him, he’s making a fair fist of centre back duties despite being a midfielder, injury needs must) an atrocious Andy Dowie (lack of) challenge and Chris Smith in goal didn’t cover himself in glory with his effort at saving it.

The start was bizarre. We walked out in Stenny’s away kit – or a Stenny away kit an Argentina clone, blue and white stripes and back shorts. Seems the ref didn’t read our email asking if our red strip would be okay. It’s the second time I’ve seen us in the home team’s away kit. The first was at Bayview (the old Bayview) many, many moons ago.

Second half was a different game – after we let them waltz through our defence to retake the lead. We then totally dominated (apart from the odd break) and had a great chance from a Dom Thomas cross which Kyle Hutton put over. Ryan Thomson had an effort from a rebound blocked.

But the amazing thing was the series of corners from Ross Forbes, one hitting the bar and another the near post with a third flapped at by the keeper. If only we had somebody to attack the ball Forbes’s delivery could be decisive but we lack height just now.

Forbes stepped up again right at the death to fire an even better placed free-kick than his first in off the post. Cue celebrations.

The comments from some Sons fans when we were 2-1 down were less than helpful. I don’t seriously believe the players aren’t trying. The time that brought it to a head was a gamble on where the ball would break that didn’t come off. It might have looked like it but it wasn’t laziness on the player’s part – just a misjudgement. If we’d been going well it would never have raised its head as an issue. But we aren’t going well.

I doubt the January transfer/signing window will change much either.

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!

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

Dumbarton 1-4 Livingston

SPFL Tier 2, The Rock, 26/12/17.

Ouch!

I didn’t see this coming; we’ve been doing reasonably well at not conceding goals recently. At worst I thought we might lose by the odd goal but not by a margin of three.

Let’s hope the lads can get it out of the system by Saturday, but losing Kyle Hutton by suspension is a bit of a blow.

Brechin City 0-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Glebe Park, 4/11/17.

So, a welcome return to the Glebe. Though the beech hedge has been given a terrible scalping.

This was a reminder of what lower league Scottish football is all about. Standing on the touchline two feet from the referee’s assistant, hearing all the verbals between the players. Pity about the standard of the football….

This was a bit of huff and puff, not much real quality on show. Not surprising really considering the import of the game. Plus we were missing about six players for various reasons.

We had much the best of the first half and made a few openings but nothing ever quite clear cut, Brechin always getting a body in the way. During a succesion of corners which all came to nothing I began to wonder if we’d suffer a sucker punch in the second half.

That looked more likely after the interval as we fell badly out of it and Brechin pressed. But they didn’t open us up either; only a long range effort put Scott Gallacher under any pressure but it cannoned off the top of the bar. This was the sort of game which our Dimitris could have made his own and the absence of Christian Nade shows how little we have in the way of aerial threat without him.

With a few minutes left the ball fell to Tom Walsh in Brechin’s box. Here’s the chance I thought. His shot too went over. That there was at least two points gone, it seemed.

That reckoned without Chris McLaughlin who got down the line one more time and whipped over his cross into that six yard danger area. It bounced off a Brechin player and towards the goal. It felt like it took ages before trundling into the back of the net. It’s the sort of goal a team concedes when nothing is going for it. Brechin must have been gutted.

Yet overall we deserved the win I would say, especially for our first half dominance. Special mention to Kyle Hutton, who gets a lot of stick from Sons fans but more or less ruled the midfield today. His long passing can be awry but when he keeps it short things are better.

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