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Dumbarton 1-1 Stranraer

SPFL Tier 3, The Rock, 28/12/19.

I thought we were going to get away with it when we scored with five minutes to go, with Ryan Tierney slotting home – especially since we held out for 48 minutes last week.

But it wasn’t to be, and they equalised almost straight away.

Given we only had 13 players available, a pretty bare bench with only two on it – one of them a goalie – a draw’s not a bad return; even if Stranraer are bottom of the league and hadn’t so much as drawn a game in ages.

Down to sixth again though, but the gap to the relegation places is about twice as large as to fourth place.

I hope manager Jim Duffy has a cat or two to bring out of the bag when the transfer window opens in the New Year, though; we need bodies.

Hopefully decent ones.

Dumbarton 3-1 Forfar Athletic

Scottish Cup,* Third Round, The Rock, 23/11/19.

Well, we’re through. This was an odd game though.

After a fairly even start we scored after a neat move culminated in Isaac Layne passing to Adam Frizzell who still had a lot to do, beating a man before shooting. It appeared to deflect a little but still it seemed the keeper might have done better.

We immediately fell out of it, surrendering the midfield and allowing Forfar to flood forward. Consequently it wasn’t a surprise that they equalised but it was a shocking goal to lose, as nobody seemed to put in a challenge before the cross which was headed out to a Forfar player totally unmarked on the edge of the box. His curled shot was just watched into the net by everybody.

Despite Forfar having most of the game they didn’t actually force Connor Brennan in goal into any saves after that except for dealing with crosses and the like. (I use ‘dealing with’ in the widest sense as in one case he palmed the ball out almost straight to a Forfar player who thankfully didn’t make the most of it.)

In what seemed like our first foray up the field in a long time we won a corner. Stefan McCluskey swept in the corner for Ryan McGeever to power a header into the bottom corner.

It was soon all over as the most Route One goal you’ll ever see came when their centre half misjudged a Connor Brennan kick-out and Isaac Layne latched onto the ball to drive it past the advancing keeper.

At 1-1 I was dreading them scoring as we could really do with them not getting the confidence boost a win could have brought. The way we played today I doubt we’d have got back in the game. Unfortunately Stranraer achieved just that likely boost against Dunfermline today. Let’s hope that it’s short-lived.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be too harsh as we were missing the influential Joe McKee today. His general play and delivery from crosses and set-pieces is a big asset. Also out was Rhegan Tumilty, I assume because his parent club doesn’t want him cup-tied.

*William Hill Scottish Cup

Stranraer 0-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Stair Park, 19/10/19.

Well, it’s a welcome clean sheet – our first in the league this season – and I didn’t expect us not to win but yet still go up one place in the league. The only disappointment is we didn’t score. But you can’t have everything.

So we’re now in a promotion play-off place, again. On goals scored ironically.

Early days still, though.

Dumbarton 3-1 Stranraer

SPFL Tier 3, The Rock, 24/8/19.

Well. Not counting chickens or anything but the mood around the Rock and with the players must be a lot better after the last two games. We don’t have a great record against Stranraer either so it was a fine result.

New loan signing Reghan Tumilty seems to have made a good impression on the fans. Long may that continue.

And Brechin’s low points record is safe (from us anyway.)

Some odd results today. Maybe this division will be a lot tighter this year than people thought.

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.

Raith Rovers 4-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Stark’s Park, 23/3/19.

We just weren’t at it for this game.

Mind you, the line up was odd with Carsy playing at centre back and Michael Paton in midfield. Neither Ross Perry nor Brian McLean could have been available at centre half despite no mention on the club website of them having problems.

We had a fair bit of possession in the first few minutes without making anything of it. Then the doors fell off. A quick movement up our right led to a good first time strike hitting the back of our net. But we had been carved open far too easily.

They began to look faster and sharper than us, getting to second balls quicker.

Their second followed a misjudgement by Craig Barr who failed to cut out a through ball. David Ferguson’s last ditch challenge only fed the ball to the scorer.

Grant Adam had no chance with either shot. His kicking had started off OK but soon started to become atrocious. It’s a liability.

Hope blossomed when a great ball inside the full back allowed Bobby Barr to the bye-line and his cut-back was netted by Calum Gallagher.

If we’d held out to half-time we might perhaps have made a game of it but Grant Adam came out for a ball he’d no hope of ever getting, letting ex-Son Kevin Nisbet head into an empty net. Last effort of the half. That was game over.

I wondered at the restart if our goal would survive more than the ten minutes it had in the first. It didn’t. Nine minutes in they got past the defence too easily again. Grant Adam parried the shot – but only to Nisbet’s head. Game really over.

We looked utterly disjointed, loads of hoofed balls to nowhere, misplaced passes galore, Dom Thomas reverting to ‘hit it at the earliest opportunity’ even when playing a pass was the much better option. Even so I was surprised when he was hooked off in favour of Iain Russell but Beany almost scored with his first touch, the ball crashing off the bar. It looked easier to score. That’s the sort of day we had.

Four of the teams around or below us picked up points as well. We could be back in eighth place on Tuesday when Stranraer play Brechin.

This looks like going down to the wire.

Memorable Weekend

I had a wonderful weekend, thank you for asking.

My eldest son tied the knot. (Literally; it was a part of the ceremony.) He and his now wife tailored things very much to their own preferences.

Like his younger brother’s nuptials nearly three years ago now – blimey, though things in the wider world haven’t improved any in the interim and they looked bad enough back then – there was beer involved.

Not that the piss-up was in a brewery this time, rather it was in an old farmyard. But beer there was. Made by the happy couple’s own fair hands.

Beer bottle

Very nice stuff it was too. And there was some left over. I took two bottles home which will need to be drunk before it goes off….

And the mighty Sons of the Rock won at Stranraer, moving from bottom to third bottom and leapfrogging our hosts in the process.

Our first win anywhere since early December and our first away since August. Not to mention going against our truly abysmal record at Stranraer as a whole.

This is one of those results which might rekindle hope. I’ll merely temper that with the observation that the two teams below us both have a game in hand on us with the result that one of them would go above us whatever the result of that game if it were to take place right now. So in effect we’re ninth and by no means out of the relegation woods.

And there’s a tough run of fixtures coming up against teams in the top five.

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.

Draw for Next Round

The highly unusual occurence of a third round Challenge Cup tie has given us a home game against Stranraer on the first full weekend of October. This sees manager Stevie Aitken come up against his former assistant Stephen Farrell.

Stranraer have always been something of a bogey team for us – usually at their place but our home record against them is a bit iffy too.

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