Dumbarton Football Club - Sons of the Rock 1872
Dumbarton (2) v Airdrie United (1)
Saturday 21st April 2012, Kick Off 3pm
Irn Bru SFL Division Two
DUMBARTON put on a hugely determined, passionate display against Airdrie United, claiming a 2-1 victory after going one behind, and setting themselves up for a heartening finale to an aspirational season.
All the goals and quite a bit of the drama came in the second period. The best Sons home gate of the season so far, 1,088, witnessed what was, at times, a pulsating match. The roar at the end was one of relief as well as delight.
A pelting downpour of rain and hail immediately before kick-off meant that what looked a good pitch started with a wet surface. Both teams struggled a little with this in an opening period that contained a good deal of action, but also periods where the encounter became bogged down in the middle of the park.
Airdrie United almost took an early lead when Ryan Donnelly, who was dangerous throughout, tried an overhead kick that went wide of the post.
The visitors began on the front foot. Having catapulted themselves into promotion play-off contention with an unbeaten run of six games, they were clearly determined to take something from this match – preferably a victory.
Dumbarton have looked uncertain and indecisive in recent weeks, but this afternoon they showed courage, skill and determination from the start. After several attacks from United, they pushed back strongly.
Scott Agnew and Mark Gilhaney combined on the right wing to produce a half-chance for Pat Walker, who could not quite find his feet in a tight situation facing Diamonds' goalie Grant Adam.
Walker and Prunty kept busy, however, assisted by trickery from Gilhaney and fast runs from Ally Graham. Captain Paul Nugent had been right to predict a muscular display from Sons.
On 10 minutes Agnew latched onto a loose ball and shot. The United 'keeper used his arm to parry it wide and Ewan McNeil cleared his lines – just.
Next Gilhaney swung in a cross that had Adam at full stretch, tipping the ball clear with his right hand.
For Airdrie United, an inswinging corner taken left-footed by William McLaren from the right by-line produced a header deep inside the penalty area by Paul Lovering. But the ball went harmlessly over the crossbar.
Both sides pressed from dead ball situations, but struggled to make a decisive impact in the final third. The visitors looked more direct, while Sons proceeded with more elaborate build-ups. There was no killer punch at the end of them, though.
On the half hour Jamie Stevenson corner found Donnelly inside the box, but again his header went over.
Experienced Dumbarton centre-back Alan Lithgow made the first of a series of important tackles when he achieved a masterly robbery of Willie McLaren, just as the Diamonds' striker was lining up to shoot in a dangerous position.
In a retaliatory attack from Sons, the ball reached Bryan Prunty, who swept it across the area. It left the visitors' defence stranded, but unfortunately no one could get on the end of it.
Further chances fell to Gilhaney, who fired straight at the 'keeper, and Prunty, who shot wide, before the break. Once again, it seemed, Dumbarton had set up more than they could finish, and had enjoyed the majority of possession without taking a lead. Were they about to be punished for this?
Airdrie United came out in determined fashion. Four minutes after the restart, Stevenson fired a warning shot (literally). It went high and just wide of the upright and corner.
Lithgow made another good tackle before Nathan Blockley steamed in from the right and shot, with Donnelly turning the ball round the post. It was a real let-off for Sons.
On 56 minutes, however, United were ahead. James Creaney was questionably adjudged to have obstructed Ryan Donnelly, after the Airdrie United striker artfully turned and ran into him.
From the resulting free kick, just outside the box, Willie McLaren struck with force and accuracy to leave Dumbarton goalie Stephen Grindlay no chance. 1-0 to the Diamonds.
Dumbarton then showed great character by remaining tight at the back and pressing forward. The reward came on 61 minutes, when Bryan Prunty found himself with a chance and managed to turn and steady at the same time, angling the ball tight and low into the net to level the score at 1-1.
By this time the home support was vocal and passionate, urging Sons on to take advantage of the swift reply. Creaney, stirred by his booking, was loudly urging on his colleagues. Thankfully that energy was directed into the game, and on 67 minutes Dumbarton took the lead.
It was another free kick that did the damage. Agnew shaped up to put the ball on the far side of the goal and the Sons strikers moved into position. Then up stepped Gilhaney to swing the ball the opposite way. Martin McNiff and Alan Lithgow rose to head it, but in challenging them Lovering clipped the ball into his own goal.
It was 2-1 to Dumbarton, and Sons fans rose to their feet to urge the team on to consolidate their advantage.
Unsurprisingly, Airdrie United pressed back vigorously. On 74 minutes Jamie Bain replaced Nathan Blockley and Scott Sally came on for Derek Holmes in a double substitution for the visitors.
Five minutes later Sons' Bryan Prunty gave way to Craig Dargo. The new man conceded a free kick on 82 minutes. It was taken right-footed by Jamie Stevenson from the left channel, finding William McLaren. But as he drove the ball home the referee's assistant flagged him for offside.
The decision infuriated Diamonds' manager Jimmy Boyle, and may turn out to be a pivotal moment in Dumbarton's 2011/12 campaign, preserving a crucial lead.
Six minutes later, Martin McNiff made an important tackle to again deny McLaren. Shortly afterwards, United's Paul Lovering, who had become something of a pantomime villain for the homes support, was booked for dissent after an offside decision.
The match became even more heated in the final minutes, with so much at stake for both sides. In a melee in the 90th minute, Ryan Donnelly was shown a red card for violent conduct, Jamie Stevenson fouled James Creaney, and Jamie Bain was booked for dissent.
The Scott Agnew came close to adding a third goal for Dumbarton, after two stabs in front of goal. But his effort was ruled out for an infringement on Grant Adam.
Ricki Lamie was brought on as a substitute for Airdrie United's David Lilley during time added on. But it was too late. The final whistle produced a great burst of celebration and relief by Dumbarton fans.
Sons now need three points from their final two games, away at Stirling Albion and at home against Brechin City, to guarantee that precious promotion play-off place.
Airdrie United April 2012
Exclusive copyright photos by Donald Fullarton.
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Dumbarton: Grindlay, Nugent, Lithgow, McNiff, Creaney, Graham, Nicoll, Agnew, Gilhaney, Prunty (Dargo 80), Walker. Subs not used: Gastal, Wallace, Gray, Kennedy.
Airdrie United: Adam, McNeil, MacDonald, Lilley (Lamie 90), Lovering, Stevenson, Stallard, Blockley (Bain 76), McLaren, Donnelly, Holmes (Sally 76). Subs not used: Duncan, Watt.
Referee: John McKendrick. Assistants: Steven Kirkland, Francis Andrews.
Irn Bru SFL Division One
Partick Thistle (0)
Next Home Match
Dumbarton v Hibernian
29 June 2013