Dumbarton Football Club - Sons of the Rock 1872

KEEPER BEATS THE PAIN BARRIER

Saturday 18th March 2017

IT was, barring one slip, one of the best performances of Alan Martin's career.

And it very nearly didn't happen.

The Dumbarton keeper saved James Keatings' penalty in today's 2-2 draw away to Hibernian, as well as pulling off several other top class stops.

Ultimately it was only enough for a point as Martin Boyle got the home side's leveller after a long ball caused Alan problems.

But he had something else troubling him earlier in the afternoon - a groin injury which very nearly stopped him playing.

Only some last-minute work with the physio ensured he was able to play. Even then, he left the dressing room well behind the rest of the team, and sub Jamie Ewings warmed up straight away just in case.

Alan said: "I injured my groin on Thursday night in training. I didn't feel too bad at first today but on my first dive in the warm-up, my groin and thigh had all seized up.

"I could hardly move and although I wanted to get through it, at about 2.30pm I didn't think I was going to make it. I told Jamie to get ready in case he had to play.

"I told the manager I was in agony and couldn't risk myself. He said that the referee told him it was too late to make a change and it would have to be classed as a substitution.

"He suggested that I could get some rub for it. I spent about 10 minutes with the physio and that helped me loosen up. I felt OK after a few kicks of the ball. I was gritting my teeth at times but I managed to get through.

"It was a roller coaster game for us. It was going brilliantly until we lost the second goal.

"It was a game where if somebody had offered you a draw before the game we'd have thought that was great. But going into the last 10 minutes we were holding them.

"I just slipped and couldn't get back up. But it's another point on the board.

"If the second goal doesn't happen then I'm on cloud nine - it's probably one of my best ever performances. Instead I walked off the pitch feeling like we'd been beaten.

"We weren't exactly in control of the game but we were doing well to hold them. But we will take the point and move on to the next game."

While Sons obtained an excellent result in Leith, there was frustration that all three teams below them - Raith, Ayr and St Mirren - all won.

Next week's trip to Ayr was always going to be huge - and Alan insists that nothing has changed.

He added: "It was devastating when we heard the results elsewhere.

"There are now only about five points between five teams. All could be relegated automatically or through the playoff.

"It's one of the most exciting leagues out there. I don't think there are many leagues out there which are as close as that.

"But we are still in a decent position and as long as we get a result at Ayr next week, we still will be.

"You can't rely on other teams to do you a favour - not in such a close league.

"We had expected Ayr would lose today, and if they had, we would have more of a cushion. But we still do have a gap and if we win next week that gap will increase.

"Alternatively we could also be on the same number of points. But the teams near us have still to play Hibs and other teams around the top.

"We are still in good spirits - I think that's shown in the last two games. The boys are all desperate to get the job finished."

Andy Galloway