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Dumbarton 1-2 Stenhousemuir

Scottish League Cup,* Group H, The Rock, 13/7/21.

Despite four players being out of contention due to Covid, and one more isolating, plus two injured, Sons game against Stenhousemuir in the League Cup went ahead tonight, with only three subs on the bench.

We took the lead through Ross MacLean but lost two goals in the second half, one of them came with the curse of the ex as former Son Robert Thomson (of blessed memory in the tier above) headed the winner.

That’s progression in the League Cup gone for another season then.

Two glorified friendlies away from home to get through before the league starts. Let’s hope there are no injuries.

*Premier Sports Cup

Sons 2020 League Cup Schedule

I forgot to post them here when the club put them up but Dumbarton’s Scottish League Cup* 2021/22 group stage fixtures are:

Saturday, July 10 – St Mirren (H, 3pm)
Tuesday, July 13 – Stenhousemuir (H, 7.45pm)
Saturday, July 17 – Dunfermline Athletic (A, 3pm)
Tuesday, July 20 – Partick Thistle (A, 7.45pm)

Four games in ten days – it’s a bit like the hectic end to last season.

The first is just over a month away!

*Now known as the Premier Sports Cup.

League Cup Group 2021

Gosh. This came round fast.

Sons have been drawn in a group with St Mirren, Dunfermline Athletic, Stenhousemuir and Partick Thistle in next season’s League Cup, now officially the Premier Sports Cup.

Thr group starts on Saturday July 10th. That doesn’t leave much time for our new manager – whoever he may be (I assume it’ll be a he – to get players in. Four of last year’s squad have left as it is – twoof them for group opponents Stenhousemuir.

Relief

Well. It’s been a season.

Not the one we’d hoped for, but also not the one that for a long time I feared.

Today’s 3-0 win at home to East Fife, combined with Brechin’s loss at Stranraer and Stenhousemuir’s at home to Forfar means we can not be relegated. There is even an outside possibility we could finish as high as fifth if we win our last two games, but I’d suggest that’s an unlikely scenario.

Where we would have ended up without our four wins against East Fife I dread to think. It’s a seriously odd statistic that we beat them four times this season when we lost to Brechin twice at their place and also twice to Stenhousemuir. Still, that’s what a league is all about.

A stress-free last two games of the season await but memories of Dom Thomas apart, this has been one to forget, really.

I don’t suppose it’ll be long before I get to worrying again, though. July is only three months away.

Forfar Athletic 0-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Station Park, 13/4/19.

The scoreline tells you all you need to know about this game.

Sometimes you get an entertaining 0-0 draw. Sometimes you don’t. Today we didn’t.

The nearest we came to scoring was with long distance efforts by Ross Forbes and Dom Thomas but they were fired down the goalkeeper’s throat. Calum Gallagher had a couple such off target as did the two previously mentioned.

Not that Forfar were any better. Grant Adam only had two shots to save all day.

Mind you I’d feared the worst as just when the teams were coming out the announcer said that due to an injury in the warm-up Stuart Carswell was being replaced by Boris Melingui. Carsy is so important to our midfield. It’s really an obvious miss when he’s not there. The announcer still gave out Carsy’s name as playing when he read the teamsheets again at half-time, though.

Boris was up front with Calum Gallagher pulled back into midfield where he put a good shift in (he’s like a modern day Chissie*) but his attacking partnership with Dom Thomas was therefore missing. Boris ran about well and pressed with a will but there was no spark to our play. Dom Thomas had few opportunities to run with the ball, they doubled or trebled up on him at times and his control got away from him too often. Plus he needs to play folk in when they’re better placed.

Looking at this Forfar side I’m amazed they’re pushing Raith for second spot. They looked as bad as us, with very little in the way of creativity.

So it’s all squeezed up again at the bottom. We could have done without the wins for Stranraer and Stenhousemuir. We’re four clear of ninth and the dreaded relegation play-off spot with three to play but the bottom two play each other on the last day. The highest either of them could reach is 44 points. They could both reach 42. We’re on 39.

*Ian Chisholm, late of this parish.

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.

Stenhousemuir 2-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Ochilview, 1/9/18.

There was a dreadful inevitability about this.

Apart from a few minutes after they equalised – when it looked like the score might be something like six each so fragile did both defences appear – we seemed mostly in control, yet without managing to create clear chances, but not quite secure at the back.

New loanee Jack Aitchison put himself about a bit and had some neat touches, it was his control and pass that set up Iain Russell for the cross which Rory Loy flicked on for Bobby Barr to score, but I suspect he found the game an eye-opener – not least in not getting free-kicks against adult defenders who disguise the foul well. Also new at centre-half Scott Allardice seemed nervy at times while midfielder Brad Spencer could be careless with his passing.

That equaliser posed several questions as to positioning, both of the defence and goalkeeper Grant Adam, whose tendency to flap at balls in the air and to slice right-footed clearances thankfully wasn’t too prominent in this game. He doesn’t get much depth on his kicks though.

Edited to add:- I’d forgotten the great pass Aitchison laid across the box for Bobby Barr in the second half. Unfortunately Barr pulled it just wide.

The real game changer was the substitution of Ryan Thomson by Ross Forbes. Okay manager Stevie Aitken did it to try to win the game and Forbes made two great passes and had a shot on goal within minutes of coming on but while Thomson hadn’t looked entirely comfortable and was on a booking he made a fair fist of right back but Spencer looked like he’d never played there in his life. Twice he was got at and we survived the resultant cross. Not the third time.

And so after five games we sit second from bottom and only off the bottom spot by goal difference. The four teams we’ve not yet faced are above us – in some cases considerably.

I do hope that once the injuries clear up things will improve but at the moment it’s looking like the last time we dropped down into Tier 3.

A straight fall into Tier 4 (which was followed by total rock bottom of that division the next season.)

This time around there isn’t the safety net of no relegation out of there.

Firs Park, Falkirk

This is sad viewing. The former home of East Stirlingshire FC now gone to rack and ruin.

I used to like going to Firs Park to see the Sons play there. It might have been utterly basic but it was a proper old style football ground.

It was certainly diminished by having that concrete wall built at one end of the ground behind the goal to stop the ball going on to the Retail Park’s access road but it’s really sad to see the state it’s in now.

I see the club has ended its rental agreement with Stenhousemuir at Ochilview to become tenants of Falkirk FC at the Falkirk Stadium. Imposing surroundings for the Lowland League even if Stirling University have been playing there too recently.

Postponed Game

I see Dumbarton’s away game against Hamilton Accies postponed (again) on Tuesday night has been rescheduled for 2nd April.

This is only four days after we are due to play Hamilton Accies – away!

I know we had two games in a row against Livingston earlier this year (2/02/13 and 9/02/13) but they were a week apart and at least one of them was at home.

I remember this sort of thing happening a few years ago in Div 3 vs Stenhousemuir (13/3/2007 and 17/3/2007, a 1-1 at home and 1-5 away where Stenhousemuir scored all eight of the goals) and a year later also vs Stenhousemuir (18/3/08 and 22/3/08, 1-0 at home, 1-1 away.)

This is what comes of playing other teams four times a season and postponements catching up with you.

To be fair we now have matches every midweek up till the new date.

I suppose Hamilton will have too.

The players are going to be knackered.

Cowdenbeath 4-1 Dumbarton

SFL Div 2, Central Park, Cowdenbeath, 24/3/12.

We were well beaten. Cowdenbeath may not be the best footballing team I have seen this season – Arbroath remain that – but they are probably the most effective. None of our players got a moment’s peace. Their players’ willingness to chase, harry and press, their eagerness to get to the ball, was an object lesson. This is how to deny the opposition the opportunity to play.

Add to that our continuing inability to defend set pieces and, in this game, to clear our lines or even simply pass the ball and it was a recipe for heavy defeat. Kevin Nicoll had a terrible game in midfield – absolutely awful – and I lost count of the number of times two of our players went for the same ball or one hit it against another and so lost possession. And having two smallish strikers up against tall defenders isn’t perhaps the best recipe for success.

We started brightly enough – without ever threatening their goal – but the signs at Cowden corners were there from early on. And so it came to pass that from one of those, Stephen Grindlay let the ball through him for the second game in a row. Their second came after we had again failed to clear the ball and it broke to the guy who had an easy chance.

Then, a minor miracle. Against the run of play and out of nothing Craig Dargo eventually made the most of a Joe Mbu mistake to score his first for Sons across the goalkeeper. It seemd to take an age to hit the net.

Faint hopes of a comeback were extinguished when Mbu was left unmarked from a free kick.

I was going to say we dominated the second half but that would only be true of possession. We threatened about twice and the keeper saved them both. At least we competed a bit better and started trying to stretch them wide.

Their fourth was a direct result of our (ridiculously late) double substitution as Cowden exploited the space left by Ryan Finnie’s removal to surge down the left and whip in a cross.

They should have got a fifth a minute later but somehow their forward hit it into Grindlay from 5 yards out.

After our straight losses to Cowden and Arbroath two weeks ago I had feared that after this one we’d be level with Stenny, but they lost today too.

Still four points ahead of fourth (with a negative goal difference!) but E Fife are coming up on the rails.

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