Dumbarton Football Club - Sons of the Rock 1872
Dumbarton (2) v Arbroath (1)
Wednesday 9th May 2012, Kick Off 7.30pm
Irn Bru SFL Division One Play Offs
DUMBARTON take an advantage into the second leg of their First Division playoff semi-final against Arbroath, after a satisfying 2-1 victory in front of a large, enthusiastic home support at the Rock.
Once again the Sons had to come behind after an early slip, but showed skill and determination is combating and finally outscoring a high quality Arbroath side.
Both teams looked slightly tentative at the beginning of the match, but were equally keen to take the match to the opposition.
Attacks at each end meant two corners apiece within the first five minutes. Dumbarton's efforts were thwarted, and it looked as if the same was true at the other end until an inswinging ball across the face of the box from tricky Josh Falkingham found tall Lichties' no.5 Stuart Malcolm unmarked on the far post.
His firm header left Sons 'keeper Stephen Grindlay little chance and put Arbroath 1-0 in front.
As in previous matches this season, Sons were not daunted by their early setback, but stayed calm and focussed in launching several sprightly counters.
A free-kick by Scott Agnew from around 30 yards found Alan Lithgow, who powered a header just over the crossbar. It was nearly the immediate equaliser Dumbarton wanted.
Kevin Nicoll, who worked tirelessly throughout the game, combined well with Craig Dargo and Mark Gilhaney in one of a series of further assaults, as a lively game swung back and forth.
A good cross found Dargo, whose shot went straight to the Arbroath goalie. The rebound created another half chance, but no-one was able to grab it.
Sons captain Paul Nugent then had a long punt after cutting through the visitors' defence and finding himself out on his own. The intention was good, though the ball went well over.
Then on 16 minutes, after defending further incursions from Arbroath, Sons levelled the score at 1-1. A great shot from Craig Dargo left 'keeper Darren Hill floundering, and Tony Wallace followed up to push the ball over the line for his first senior goal for the Sons. The home fans erupted with joy.
Both teams were wrestling hard to claim the game in the middle of the park, but both were also losing possession to readily.
Dargo weaved his way through the Arbroath defence and was pulled down just on edge of area. Agnew's free-kick went directly to the goalie, who held on to the ball as Dargo came steaming in. A further shot from Gilhaney in a central position went over the bar.
The game continued to surge back and forth as the half progressed. Arbroath's Malcolm and centre forward Steven Doris continued to look dangerous at corners and dead balls. Sons made several important clearances.
A loose goal kick from Hill almost gifted Dumbarton another scoring opportunity, but Brian Kerr was quick to tidy up.
When Craig Dargo was fouled again, a low free-kick from Scott Agnew was flicked on by Brian Prunty, who had also looked threatening on a number of occasions throughout the half. Hill turned the ball over, however.
Dumbarton had slightly more possession before the break, but Arbroath looked faster and more decisive in some of their raids. As the half drew to a close Falkingham burst through but was thwarted by a well-timed tackle from Martin McNiff, who was again teaming up well with the commanding Lithgow at the back.
Lithgow himself could have put the hosts ahead just before the interval, but his header inside the six-yard box was just wide.
There was all to play for as the second half got underway and the floodlights came on after what had been a bright, sunny start to the evening.
Keith Gibson replaced Arbroath player-manager Paul Sheerin shortly after the restart, and the no.14 sought to make an immediate impact. However his speculative shot was well off target.
Sons pressed back against the Lichties with some intricate passing moves, but could not quite seem to set up a clear chance. Arbroath failed to capitalise on a free-kick on the edge of the area. It still looked anybody's game.
When Colin Samuel robbed Lithgow and powered through it seemed as if Arbroath might go ahead again. His drive was impressive, but it was always swerving away from Grindlay's left-hand post.
Then just after the hour Dumbarton went 2-1 in front. Bryan Prunty finished well from inside the area after another nifty free-kick from Scott Agnew.
Liam Caddis replaced Connor Birse for Arbroath six minutes after the reverse, in an attempt to re-shuffle their attacking pack and get back into the game.
On 71 minutes the purposeful Prunty was replaced by Pat Walker, who immediately sought to inject fresh energy for Sons. David Gray, who had especially impressed in the second half against Brechin City four days earlier, got another chance on 84 minutes when he came on for Mark Gilhaney.
Grindlay made a couple of important interventions for Dumbarton as Arbroath pushed forward with urgency in search of an equaliser, and the back line continued to hold their ground.
First he took a high cross confidently, then he plucked the ball from the air after a great, sweeping attack from the Lichties again menaced Sons' goal.
Dumbarton were doing the business in their own final third, but they were beginning to play too deep against wily and determined opposition.
At the other end, another Agnew free-kick went over. For the Red Lichties, Liam Caddis and Lee Sibanda both went close in the final minutes, but the home side did not relent.
In one last responsive assault, Steven Doris turned and curled the ball towards Dumbarton's goal from a close, central position. But his shot went over. As the final whistle went the home crowd showed obvious delight.
The tie is far from over, and the visit to Gayfield on Saturday 12th May will be a challenge. But Sons go there with a one-goal advantage after a competent, successful home performance. The promotion dream is still alive.
Arbroath home May 2012
Exclusive copyright photos by Donald Fullarton.
Prints can be ordered by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by using the Contact Us facility on http://www.donaldfullartonphotos.co.uk
Dumbarton: Grindlay, Nugent, Lithgow, McNiff, Creaney, Gilhaney (Gray 84), Nicoll, Wallace, Agnew, Prunty (Walker 71), Dargo. Subs Not Used: Ewings, Kennedy, Thomson.
Arbroath: Hill, Baxter, Malcolm, Innes, McAnespie, Sheerin (Gibson 48), Doris, Falkingham, Kerr, Birse (Caddis 67), Samuel (Sibanda 84). Subs Not Used: White, Busch.
Referee: Craig Charleston. Assistants: Andy Tait, Andy McWilliam.
Irn Bru SFL Division One
Partick Thistle (0)
Next Home Match
Dumbarton v Hibernian
29 June 2013