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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 2-2 Raith Rovers

SPFL Tier 2, The Rock, 2/5/15.

Not bad for an end of season game with nothing riding on it (except pride, players’ contracts, points and the money that comes with them.)

The first half was pretty uneventful till Garry Fleming hit the post with a shot from just outside the box. It rebounded, hit the goalie’s back and fell into the path of Jordan Kirkpatrick who tucked it away. Raith came into it more towards the end.

In the second half Raith equalised when they cut their way right through our defence and the forward finished very tidily.

Beyond feeling the cold I hadn’t much noticed the wind in the first half but it badly affected Danny Rogers’s kicking from the outset of the second. This culminated when he hit the ball straight to a Raith player who promptly chipped it back over him into the net in a great finish. Rogers’s kicking is a major weakness in his game.

Raith were on top but things chnaged when young Donald McCallum came on for Jordan Kirkpatrick. The goal stemmed directly from McCallum skipping past the full back. His cross was headed straight to Scott Agnew who performed that rarity scoring with his right foot.

Ryan Clark got a few minutes on the pitch too. He had a strong run ended by a cynical clip on his heels. Welcome to the adult game, son.

So the season ends on a slightly less gloomy note after five losses in a row. How easy it’s going to be to keep the club’s best part-time team in Scotland tag next season is anyone’s guess. With Livingston’s great escape on Saturday there will be a maximum of one other such club in our league for 2015-16. I suspect the manager may move on soon; he’s already lasted longer than most Sons bosses of recent times. I’d take eighth place right now, before a ball is kicked.

Livingston 1-2 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Almondvale Stadium, 21/3/15

What an odd game.

We started brightly and had two efforts on goal from Garry Fleming neither of which were on target. Then Chris Turner dangled his leg out to stop a Livi player getting past and was booked. An unneeded foul which I said to Onebrow would be even more unnneeded if they scored from it. So what happened? 1-0 Livi. Danny Rogers seemed a bit immobile as it went in.

There followed a succession of fouls by Livi layers on ours all of which went unpunished – even the one that resulted in Darren Petrie having to be substituted. Dylan Easton came on but this wasn’t really the sort of game where he could shine as Livi were very physical. Despite that it was two more of our players who got booked. In Mark Wilson’s case it looked to me as if he played the ball onto their player. I thought it wasn’t till late in the game that the ref saw fit to book any of their players but the BBC says one was yellow carded after 45 mins. The worst refereeing decision came in the second half when Garry Fleming was given offside despite the fact that he had run on to a pass misplaced by one of their players.

From five minutes into the second half Livi were time-wasting. That was an irritating spectacle. I was thinking we’ve beaten way better Livi teams than this.

The time-wasting came back to bite them late on when Scott Agnew drove a free-kick into the net. Is that Aggie’s first goal from a free-kick since we got promoted to this division?* It wasn’t even in the corner, hit on the goalie’s side of the wall, but I wasn’t caring.

No time-wasting by Livi now. But it was us who scored again, Garry Fleming latching on to a ball after a set piece wasn’t fully cleared and fairly belting it into the net. He simply wanted it more than the defender.

So a win that sees us 11 points clear of 8th place with 7 games left (with Alloa only having 18 points to play for and Cowdenbeath 24.) Livi are 17 points behind us with only 21 to play for. I think we won’t finish last, then.

*Edited to add:- Apparently not. I seems he got one in the 4-1 demolition of Hamilton Accies last spring. I wasn’t at that game.

Raith Rovers 2-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Stark’s Park, 17/1/15

If you had told me at half-time that we would come near to taking a point out of this game I would have laughed. We were woeful. No organisation, no bite, no shape, no nothing. All we had to show for it was a couple of long-range efforts from Garry Fleming. We badly missed Chris Kane up front. There wasn’t even Colin Rhyming Slang – on the bench throughout – to contest (contest?) for the ball. Though new loanee Stuart Findlay looked good, reasonably quick and comfortable on the ball. I think we were supposed to be playing 3-5-2 but it was all over the place really and they were able to get in behind us too easily.

Chris Turner had probably his worst game for us that I have seen. He’s not the player he was last season. It was his clumsy challenge that gave away the penalty and he simply wasn’t up to speed all game. There doesn’t seem to be anybody in the squad to allow him a rest what with the injuries to Jordan Kirkatrick and Mark Gilhaney.

Having said all that, Raith ought to have put us away. They didn’t and instead of going for the jugular second half opted for containment and hitting on the break. As a result we came into it. We actually looked like a team and had several Scott Agnew efforts for encouragement. One of those was parried by the keeper and Mitch Megginson pounced to score the rebound. A few minutes later the keeper spilled a cross under pressure from Garry Fleming and Mitch had a gaping goal, easier than the one he scored. He hit it too hard and it went over, off the bar. In stoppage time their keeper made a great save and in the subsequent passage of play a defender headed it off the line. On another day…..

Then again, Raith had missed a golden opportunity earlier in the half on one of their breaks upfield and also hit the post but a symptom of Raith’s second half approach was that even at 2-0 they had started time wasting.

Archie Campbell, despite his pace, doesn’t look the answer to our striking deficiencies.

Improvement next week is vital. Or at least to play for the whole game the way we played in the last twenty minutes yesterday.

Cowdenbeath 1-3 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Central Park, 27/12/14.

A good and well deserved three points. We pretty much dominated this game and ought to have had it put to bed in the first half but all we had to show at the interval was a wonderful finish from Colin Rhyming Slang. Yes, you read that correctly. He had earlier blistered a shot just wide. He was having a good game.

Our line-up was a bit odd seeming with Archie Campball in for Mitch Megginson on the right and Garry Fleming playing wide left.

I thought our failure to put more than one away would come back to haunt us when we allowed them more possession in the second half and they duly scored. Danny Rogers saved their only other chance soon after but then we scored – from a corner! – Lee Mair heading in Scott Agnew’s delivery, though Sons fans were so far away in the corner of the old stand that no-one was really sure who the scorer had been until the internet was checked!

Then the clincher. Chris Kane (who had a poor game by his standards) was put in behind the defence by Colin Rhyming Slang’s pass, tripped by the defender and even though he was heading away from goal the ref gave a red card. Sons fans had the perfect angle to see Garry Fleming’s bullet head for the net. Unstoppable. It was almost a carbon copy of Gylfi Sigurdsson’s goal for Swansea on Boxing Day except the keeper didn’t take a step to his right first.

There were two more notable Colin Nish efforts, one hitting the post, and we had chances beyond that as the ten men struggled a bit to contain us but the ball wouldn’t go in.

Sixth at the New Year. That’s more than acceptable.

Alloa Athletic 0-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Recreation Park,1 6/12/14

A welcome win – second away win in a row – an even more welcome clean sheet, and breathing space between us and eighth place.

We could have gone behind early on as Alloa hit the post and the ball screwed back across the goal to go out for a goal-kick. Danny Rogers also had a good save with his legs in the first half. The only goal came from the aftermath of a corner which was cleared out to Mitch Megginson who spurned the obvious ball back out to Scott Agnew and advanced to cross the ball for Andy Graham to nod it to Chris Kane. That close in and in space Chris doesn’t miss.

Kaneo could have had a hat-trick in this game as he went close several times in the second half but mostly from outside the box. Jordan Kirkpatrick, on as sub for Chris Turner, had a fine strike saved by the keeper.

But I spent most of the second half looking at my watch as we didn’t really show any sign of putting the game away and Alloa had a lot of the ball (without, it has to be said, ever looking really dangerous) and the defence always looked vulnerable against a pacy break. It was us, not them, who looked as if we’d had a big game in midweek.

I’ll take a scrappy one-nil any day though.

1Indodrill Stadium? I think not.

Hibernian 3-2 Dumbarton

Scottish League Cup, Round 2, Easter Road Stadium, 26/8/14.

A case of might have been. Two-nil up with less than fifteen minutes to go you would expect not to lose; but of course we did.

The first half I thought Hibs looked sharper and more threatening but apparently we had more possession (from Boghead Ranter – about halfway down the page.) They seemed to have more space but we held them off. That is a hellish green they have for a shirt though, not Hibs-like at all.

Garry Fleming had a good game but against opponents like this his limitations were highlighted. His strengths through, particularly effort and putting himself about gave their defenders problems. Colin Nish looked more up for it than usual and came onto a game. I thought Scott Taggart was good at centre half – in the first half anyway. In the second our defence was too far away from the Dumbarton support to be sure of anything about it.

The second half was a bit different. We suddenly had a period of domination and got the goal, Scott Agnew’s corner headed back across goal by Nish and Mitch Megginson reacting quickly to hook the ball in on the volley.

The second followed another Agnew corner, again knocked back and Garry Fleming’s tenacity (He was fouled but we weren’t going to get a penalty) meant the ball rebounded to Mark Gilhaney who hit it. The ball ricocheted off at least two Hibs defenders before just crossing the line.here was some confusion for a second or two before the ref – or perhaps the linesman – gave it.

Curiously at that point – at least 25 minutes to go – some Hibs fans decided to leave!

In retrospect that goal came too early. If we had gone two up later it might have killed them. As it was they had a long time in which to come back. Nish’s substitution (by Jordan Kirkpatrick) may have been the turning point. Suddenly our one tactic for getting the ball out had gone and we were pressed back more and more. In addition we began to look tired, especially Garry Fleming whose own substitution was about ten minutes too late.

When they scored it only invited more pressure but unbelievably the second was more or less a carbon copy of the first; a cross headed in by the impressive but all but unmarked El Alagui. I don’t remember seeing a striker as good as him all last season. Ater that there was only going to be one winner – and I didn’t want it to be in extra time. One small mercy then.

Three goals lost in less than twelve minutes isn’t good, even if we were tiring against a full time team. But when we had a go at them they looked vulnerable and we showed we can score.

However, we’re losing at least three goals a game; no matter whom we play and no matter the centre back pairing.

This is beginning to look like an amalgam of the 2010-11 and 2012 -13 seasons. And beginning to feel horribly like a relegation season. Things need to change soon.

Brechin City 0-1 Dumbarton

Scottish League Cup, Glebe Park, 2/8/14.

This was not an advert for the beautiful game. Very few chances were created between the two sides. A Brechin player looked to have a tap-in in the first half after their wide man got round David van Zanten far too easily and squared the ball but somehow the guy in the centre contrived to miscue so badly the ball went for a throw in.

We didn’t seem very direct – I can’t see that way of playing succeeding in the league this season, but then again for years we’ve needed to tighten up at the back and this was a clean sheet.

I can only think of their keeper having the one save – punching it out wide from a Scott Agnew free-kick. Our goal came from the resultant throw-in; the scrappiest goal you’ll ever see, Andy Graham’s effort ricocheting from two defenders’ bodies before crossing the line.

Chris Turner didn’t look fully fit to me. Archie Campbell was lively when he came on and got behind their defence a few times. Mitch Megginson screwed a great cut back from him wide. New on-loan keeper Danny Rogers didn’t have much to do – one good save apart – but seemed confident enough.

Improvement required for the Raith game on the 9th, though.

Dumbarton 3-3 Raith Rovers

SPFL Tier 2, The Rock, 22/2/14

I’ll take this – even though we were one up twice – as it keeps our unbeaten run in 2014 going and we were also one down at one point.

Nice to see Scott Agnew get on the score sheet. It’s his first non-penalty of the season. I don’t know if he’ll keep his place once Chris Turner is fit again though.

But… Cowdenbeath won again. The gap from us in fourth to them in ninth is only eight points. Safety is still a long way off.

Yet a draw next week at Palmerston will keep us fourth.

I hope the prospect of the Aberdeen Cup game the week after won’t be a distraction.

Alloa Athletic 0-1 Dumbarton

Scottish Cup Round 5, Recreation Park, 8/2/14.

We dominated the first half of this and only had one hairy moment when Stephen Grindlay made a good stop and Paul McGinn didn’t look favourite for the rebound but still managed to scoop it away. The goal was well worked, Scott Agnew did brilliantly to bring the ball down and then hooked it across goal for Colin Rhyming Slang to volley in from close range. Then Chris Kane won himself a penalty – almost a carbon copy of the incident in the recent league game but this one was more definite. Unfortunately his shot was a carbon copy of the previous one and the keeper saved it (while injuring himself in the process.)

The second half was a bit more even but we were really troubled only twice – another great stop from Stephen Grindlay and an absolutely magnificent goal line clearance from Andy Graham after it looked a certain goal. Scott Linton hit the bar with a belter but the game was pretty scruffy and scrappy in the latter stages.

So a Cup quarter-final to look forward to. When was the last time we had one of those? Was it 1979? I don’t remember one since.

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