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Dumbarton 1-1 Clyde

SPFL Tier 3, The Rock,6/11/21.

It was a mustn’t lose – and we didn’t lose.

However we ought to have won.

There were enough dangerous crosses etc for us to have got on the end of one of them and then there were two sitters; Paul Paton scooped one high and wide when he ought to have buried it, then he was through one on one but failed to get the ball past the keeper and Eoghan Stokes skied the rebound. That was really the only save their keeper had to make.

I had the fear when I realised how bad the wind was – I’m still traumatised by that game up at Peterhead – and for a long time this resembled those dreadful games we witnessed last season. We barely made an effort at shooting from range (Sam Ramsbottom had to make a good save from a wind-assisted one of theirs first half.)

Still a change of tack at a corner when Callum Wilson came on saw his driven cross deflected on and saw Eoghan Stokes burying it. That was on the cusp of injury time we ought to have held out.

So what happened?

They strolled up the park, got in a unopposed cross and two of them were queuing up to put it in. Two points dropped.

With not taking the chances we create and defending like that we’re in a relegation fight again.

All September’s optimism has gone.

Peterhead 5-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Balmoor Stadium, 2/10/21.

Ouch!

I wouldn’t normally have watched this but my younger son invited myself and the good lady over for the afternoon and dinner. Not a good afternoon as it turned out but the dinner he cooked was lovely.

I kind of knew it wasn’t going to be our day when they scored flukily early on. Their player’s shot was mishit well wide but another stuck his foot out to deflect it in. Thereafter we dominated the first half but couldn’t find the net. The wind was playing havoc and our players couldn’t seem to judge it well. Still, 1-0 down at half-time was recoverable.

Two nil down three minutes later wasn’t, a cross swung into the box met at the back post. Then Ryan McGeever tied himself in knots at another cross and only succeded in letting it hit off him into the path of the attacker.

The wind was so bad that at one point a Sam Ramsbottom goal kick reached halfway to the halfway line and then blew out for a corner kick! It looked like our players suggested to the ref that the conditions were such that the game should be abandoned but at 3-0 I doubt he was going to do that.

Their fourth wouldn’t have happened at 1-0 or 2-0, their player just swung at the ball from a tight angle and it screamed in off the post.

The fifth was a penalty where I thought their player had just fallen down rather than being fouled but the Pixellot camera angle and distance from the action make it difficult to tell.

Bizarrely I thought we actually played quite well – even the Peterhead stream’s commentators admitted this was not a 5-0 game – and I was impressed by the players’ commitment even at 5-0 down. The wind took away our best weapon as our crosses into the box didn’t find their targets.

So, nine games in, we’ve played everyone else and we’re fifth – possibly sixth if Montrose beat Queen’s Park tomorrow.* And our goal difference is back down to 0.

We’re equal points on third but only three points above eighth. It’s a ludicrously tight league.

*Perhaps not likely since Queen’s haven’t lost yet.

Dumbarton 3-2 Peterhead

SPFL Tier 3, The Rock, 4/5/21.

Never underestimate the ability of a football club to put its fans through the wringer. 1-0 up, drawn back level, then 2-1 down and into despair, before 2-2 and then an injury time winner. The lead in this changed hands twice. That doesn’t happen often.

But where did this effort come from? We looked good early on, scored when we were on top, Jaime Wilson on the shoulder of the last defender (but in our own half!) running onto the through ball and putting it past the keeper with an early shot.

Then we fell out of it. Perhaps there was thought of holding onto the lead but the way we had been playing up to then we could and should have scored again.

Instead we were our own worst enemies failing to clear the ball properly before losing it and our defensive organisation. Admittedly Sam Ramsbottom had anotehr very good save just before that.)

The second half was mostly woeful, though, the tin lid being put on it when we lost the ball at our penalty area level and a looped hanging cross lured out Ramsbottom who couldn’t claim it and it was headed in.

There then seemed to be a grinding inevitablity to things and a limp surrender to relegation (okay, to the play-offs,) was unfolding. Then a Ross Forbes corner was hammered into the net by Morgyn Neill’s head (why had Forbes played all those short free-kicks earlier?) and the unlikeliest of comebacks was on.

Urgency had become the order of the day. As in the Forfar game last week the manager threw the kitchen sink at it with two late substitutions.

Fulfilled in fairy-tale fashion in the first minute of injury time when Ross Forbes hooked the ball into the area almost without looking. Jaime Wilson did not look favourite but he threw his head at the ball and buried it.

That’s the first time in the league this season we’ve scored more than twice and also the first time we’ve come from behind to score. It’s the first time we’ve gone behind and not lost.

I suppose that supplies some reason for hope if we do end up in the play-offs.

But that fate depends on how Clyde get on on Thursday.

Clyde 2-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Broadwood Stadium, 1/5/21.

Expletive deleted.

This was the very definition of a “must not lose” game – and we lost it. And also allowed the goal difference margin to collapse to only one in our favour.

Clyde will now know what they have to do to avoid the relegation play-off spot when they play East Fife on Thursday.

I would not be at all surprised though if we won on Tuesday against Peterhead. It’s the sort of thing we do.

Also, and I may be doing them a disservice here, but Peterhead, being safe, may have downed tools. (After all, they did lose to Forfar today.)

It would only prolong the agony.

If we don’t win that one of course then we’ll be in that relegation play-off ourselves – and I do not fancy our chances.

Falkirk 1-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Falkirk Stadium, 30/3/21.

Well I didn’t see this coming. I didn’t see it at all. After Saturday I just wanted to crawl away into a darkened room so didn’t avail myself of Falkirk’s live stream. (It was £13.99 a pop too, A bit steep.)

From the comments on Pie and Bovril the Falkirk fans seem to think it’s their managers’ fault. (Yes they have two.)

They also said Sam Ramsbottom was man of the match. He apparently made four good saves. (Though one Falkirk fan disagrees, saying he only had one.)

The other surprising thing is that we scored. New boy Rabin Omar after a route one kick up the park according to the club website.

An unexpected and welcome point but we need three in every game at the minute.

Unfortunately Clyde won away at Peterhead so we’ve gone down a place, and they’ve got a game in hand on us too. Forfar got themselves a similarly unexpected point to ourselves at Partick.

Those losses at home in the past two league games are really hurting now.

Airdrieonians tomorrow night at home is the latest must win.

If we did it would put serious pressure on them.

So we most likely won’t.

Dumbarton 0-1 Peterhead

SPFL Tier 3, The Rock, 27/3/21.

Well this was a must win – and we lost it.

OK it was a great strike but perhaps we shouldn’t have been allowing it. It came from Adam Frizell losing the ball in their half with trying to be too tricky. Not much is coming off for him at the moment, but that’s true for the whole team.

Their goalie didn’t have a save to make the whole game. Not that Peterhead had many efforts on goal. Typical the one that counted came from a former Son, Ben Armour, who’s making a habit of scoring the only goal of a game against us. He’s yet another player whose talents we never seemed to be able to harness when he was with us.

Looking at our fixture list I can’t see where even a single point is going to come from. And Clyde pulled back a point on us today too.

It’s beginning to feel awfully like a relegation season. And yet on total goals conceded we would be third in the league. That stat shows where our trouble lies. No creativity in midfield. On goals scored we’re rock bottom.

Tuesday night at Falkirk could be brutal for which I will not be tuning in.

Then there’s Airdrie at home on Thursday evening. Another eye-bleeding watch no doubt.

The hope’s not killing me just now, since I have none at all.

Dumbarton 0-1 Forfar Athletic

SPFL Tier 3, The Rock, 20/3/21.

Well.

It turns out this was a must-win after all.

It wasn’t just a defeat. It was a calamity. They came to within two points of us and Peterhead won to stretch their lead over us to five points. Our game against them (next up in the league) has now become a real must-win.

What’s more Forfar showed very little to suggest they are or will be a good side.

The trouble is neither did we.

Even making allowances for the lack of games this was dire. Both teams will be lucky to avoid relegation. I hardly think Clyde can be worse than us both.

To cap it all, Stefan McCluskey is now going to have an operation and will be out for the season. As if we didn’t have few enough bodies already.

Make no mistakee; this was the performance of a side doomed to relegation.

In the absence of Rico Quitongo, Tomas Brindley filled in at left back. He was okay but at least twice was in a great crossing position with players free in Forfar’s box and miserably failed to get the ball in to them. Too many passes in midfield were misplaced. There was some neat link-up play at times but it never led to anything. Everyone had a game to forget – except for one player, who has a very cogent reason to remember it, as a warning.

For the goal was utterly preventable. I would say it was comical but it was worse than that. It was totally abject. New signing Sam Ramsbottom had hit three out of four clearances against one of our players already as well as getting away with several other low kick-outs. But while having plenty of time to make sure his kick would be well-placed he did it again, clattering the ball against poor Ryan McGeever’s back, from which it rebounded goalwards. Ramsbottom’s dive after it was futile. He only helped carry it into the net.

Ramsbottom will now linger in my mind (along with Peter Shaw of dreaded memory) as being just about the worst goalkeeper I’ve ever seen in a Sons jersey. He was woeful. Not just his kicking, his ball catching skills also leave a lot to be desired, he seemed to punch or palm away just about everything that wasn’t the easiest of catches.

I would say that it would be for the best if we lost in the Cup against Huntly on Tuesday, to save us the fixture pile-up, except for the effect such a defeat would likely have on morale.

My mood is despairing.

And So It Begins Again

Today, at 3 pm, Sons will play a competitive football match for the first time in 91 days. That’s more than a normal close season.

I really don’t know what to expect. A little ring-rustiness certainly.

I hope, though, that opponents Forfar Athletic will be equally ring-rusty, as it’s something of a crucial game, if not quite a must win for us.

It’s more like a must not lose. If Forfar get the three points they’ll only be two points behind us, albeit having played a game more. Far too close for my liking.

Clyde are only those two points behind us and they have a game in hand. That game, however, might be a problem for them as it means that in these Covid times they have to squeeze it into the already packed schedule.

In that context, Peterhead, two points above us but with two extra games played, have an advantage over us in that they’ll have more rest time over the next few weeks.

Still, I’ll be in front of the live stream* at kick-off today, fingers crossed, mentally anguished.

*Any gremlins permitting.

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.

Dumbarton P-P Airdrieonians

So another postponed game, the third this season and the second in a row – with the possibility of a fourth next Saturday if Huntly cannot get their 1st round Cup tie against Cumbernauld Colts on before then.

Mind you, when I saw the weather forecast for Dumbarton for the week just gone and that the temperature would not rise above 0oC until about 3 pm today I knew this would be off.

So we are now in eighth place, just one above the relegation play-off spot and with Clyde in ninth having a game in hand (they have had even less luck with getting games played than we have.) Admittedly, Peterhead are only two points above us and we have two games in hand over them.

I’d still prefer to have more points on the board, though.

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