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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.

Dumbarton 1-0 Cove Rangers

SPFL Tier 3, The Rock, 12/12/20.

Our first ever game against the visitors – and we got a welcome win.

It probably wasn’t that long ago but I can’t remember the last time we beat a team above us in the league.

Watching on the live stream is a peculiar experience. It seemed even more nerve-racking than actually being at a game. It didn’t help that, once again, as against Clyde, we were holding out for a win – this time only for 40 mins rather than the majority of the game.

It was fairly even in the first half but I felt Cove always looked more comfortable on the ball than us. We had the first effort on target though, a fairly centrally aimed Ross Forbes free-kick. Our failure to score despite some pressure (and no truly clear-cut chances) is the sort of thing that can come back to bite you. And it almost did as Cove forced Kevin Dabrowski in goal into two very good saves indeed and a further block outside his near post. Then Rico Quitongo danced round the defender on the bye-line and cut it back to Jaime Wilson who hit it fiercely but nearly straight at their keeper. Half-time 0-0.

Not long after, we were ahead – from an unlikely source. Nat Wedderburn – a strong presence in midfield throughout – bulleted a Ross Forbes corner into the net on 50 minutes, his first goal for the club.

From then on Cove pushed forward and we did not seem to be able to find an out ball. Hence the racked nerves. They did hit the post late on and it seemed the ball must go in but it trundled along the goal line for what seemed like ages before Stuart Carswell cleared it sideways – Kevin Dabrowski having to dive over his clearance.

We did manage to venture forward in the last few minutes but the final whistle still came as a relief.

So we’re now two points off third place and five clear of ninth.

It’s a tricky visit to Montrose (in fourth) next week though.

Dumbarton 0-3 Falkirk

SPFL Tier 3, The Rock, 24/11/20.

My second experience of live-streaming. It was slightly less odd than before. The emotional engagement is diluted compared to actully being at the game.

We had more possession for the first ten minutes or so but never really threatened their goal. It’s always ominous when you know the opposition is likely to be good but don’t show anything. Sure enough once they came into it we were more or les on the back foot.

Their first was a good cross but the guy who scored it, coming in at the back post, was totally unmarked.

Their second – a great strike from a free-kick – I thought came from a foul that wasn’t a foul. Whether Kevin Dabrowski in goal might have done better is difficult to tell on a live stream. He is a bit susceptible to long-range hits it seems. He was also beaten by a shot from well outside the box which hit the bar.

In the second half things just went downhill. Ryan McGeever had had to be substituted at half-time, then Adam Frizell, then Rico Quitongo and finally Nat Wedderburn all for injuries it seemed. We’re lucky we’ve got ten days before our next game for the chance to recover.

Even so, sub Denny Johnstone managed to hit the post in an attack which the stream mostly missed, then a fine Robert Jones cross from the bye-line was headed wide by Jaime Wilson.

Their third was another defensive shocker from us, a long through ball from that Wilson chance wasn’t dealt with and their player managed (luckily?) to evade Dabrowski’s attempt to steal the ball as he went round him.

Very late on Johnstone again had a strike which the keeper tipped round the post at full stretch. Even later Wilson played in Robert Jones for a sitter but he took too long to hit it and allowed the defender to block it wide.

So in a game where Falkirk more or less strolled it we could have scored three times – and that with players shoe-horned into positions not their usual. But we didn’t score at all.

The good start to the league season feels like a long time ago now.

Dumbarton 1-0 Clyde

SPFL Tier 3, The Rock, 3/11/20.

This is the game postponed from Oct 24th and my first view of live streaming. An odd experience. Things were a bit flat with no fans to make noise.

I cannot complain about the result or the efforts of the players though.

During the first ten minutes we were hardly in it as Clyde seemed to have most of the possession but were not making much of it. Indeed in the first half I don’t think big Kevin Dabrowski in our goal had a save to make.

We went ahead in almost our first real attack. A geat through ball by Jaime Wilson was taken up by new signing Adam Frizzell (in his second spell with the club.) His finish was a delight as he dinked it over the keeper.

We were on top for the rest of the half, ought to have had a penalty when Rico Quitongo was shoved in the back as he looked to be about to shoot but the ref saw nothing wrong with it, and then Frizz forced a great save from their keeper after he’d worked the shooting opportunity in the box.

In the second half we had much less of the ball. Clyde threw the kitchen sink at it, moving four men up top when they were attacking. As a result we fell back to protect our box – it’s a natural response of footballers, I suppose. It was here that Dabrowski made the saves he had to – mostly from long range efforts it must be said. There were a couple of scares with miscommunication between him and the defenders in front. Hopefully with a few more games together that will be ironed out. There was also one effort that Kev fumbled a bit. We did get up the park for a couple of corners from one of which Ryan McGeever had a shot which the keeper again did very well to save.

All in it was a nail-biting 45 minutes but the win is very welcome. Clear in third in the table this early is an unusual place for us to be. The benefits of a back four kept over from last season I suppose.

Dumbarton 2-0 Forfar Athletic

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

That should do it. Forfar can still reach 54 points and we’re on 38 but they’ve averaged less than a point a game up to now so if they kept that up they’d only get to 35. We’re now 22 points ahead of Stranraer so they’re definitely out of sight. We’ll be in Tier 3 again next season I should think. (I can’t see us reaching the promotion play-off places.)

We dominated the first half and played some pretty stuff at times but never really threatend their goal until a cross reached Stefan McCluskey whose close effort from near the bye-line was saved by the keeper and went for what all the Sons fans near me thought was a corner – as did the linesman – but the ref gave a goal-kick. I suppose it could have rebounded back off McCluskey but it didn’t look like it.

The goal wasn’t long delayed, a neat move leading to a header into the path of Ross Forbes who finished it well.

Ir was much the same in the second half with Forfar having a bit more of the ball but mostly being woeful with it. Conor Brennan only had one save to make, from a long-range effort.

The clincher was again a good move with Jai Quitongo hammering home after a neat P J Crossan pass following a Forbes through ball.

Stefan McCluskey had the best game I’ve seen from him but he still doesn’t have much end-product and too often takes a negative option. Rico Quitongo continues to make strides at left-back; he’s a much improved player from the one of the beginning of the season. His brother Jai can clearly play a bit, with a good touch, but he has a tendency to go up blind alleys or overdo things. And Stuart Carswell looks to be coming back to his best. He’s been off the boil for a long time. I wonder if he’s been carrying an injury.

Clyde again on Saturday at their place. (Weather permitting.)

Annan Athletic 0-1 Dumbarton

Scottish League Cup* Group E, Galabank, 13/7/19.

A win! A win I wasn’t expecting – certainly not after only signing five of the players on show within the previous forty-eight hours.

But this ought to be tempered with caution. Annan were far from impressive even if they are only one tier below us. But compare last season’s equivalent game at Spartans – two tiers below us – where we only got a draw.

With nine new players starting I had no idea who was who to begin with – apart from Kyle Hutton and Stuart Carswell, the latter now Sons captain and the stand-out player on the park.

We had the better of the early stuff, several efforts on goal (Annan’s first did not arrive till 40 mins in – their second was only a couple of minutes later but both were wide of the mark; indeed, crosses aside, Jordan Pettigrew in Sons’ goal did not have a save to make in the entire game) and a lot of corners in our favour but I still never felt our defence was comfortable. Too many years watching Sons does that to you.

New right back Lewis Crawford – a local lad – was solid and got forward well, he had our first shot on goal but it was blocked and not long after a header which unfortunately was straight at the keeper. He’s no Sam Wardrop though. Rico Quitongo on the other flank seemed defensively sound and got forward too.

Paul Crossan (P J Crossan on the club’s squad list) looked effective on the wing, reminiscent of Andy Stirling in build. He cut inside well and looks to be an upgrade on Bobby Barr.
Ryan Tierney up front held the ball up impressively but whether he’ll be able to do it against better defenders remains to be seen. He took his goal well though. Neither of our front two is on the tall side but Tierney still managed to win quite a few balls in the air. Mati Zata in midfield, though, looked like a fish out of water, not really getting into the game at all.

An Annan fan sitting near me said to his mate sometime during the second half that Dumbarton looked organised. How that’s so is a miracle given our lack of time together or maybe it’s just a reflection of Annan’s lack in that regard. Or (at the risk of getting ahead of myself and despite Sons fans less than enthusiastic embrace of the signings so far) do we simply have better players than them?

Three games against teams in higher divisions now before the league starts. Make the most of the win.

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