Dumbarton Football Club - Sons of the Rock 1872

Arbroath (1) v Dumbarton (2)

Wednesday 2nd May 2018, Kick Off 7.45pm

Championship Play-Off Semi-Final

IN January 2012, Dumbarton ended a long winless run by beating Arbroath with an injury time goal.

It gave them the momentum to go on and make it a memorable season when they won the play-offs for a place in the second tier of Scottish football.

May 2018 - Dumbarton ended a long winless run by beating Arbroath with an injury time goal.

Could it?

Where it was Pat Walker six and a half years ago, it was Craig Barr this time around. In the third minute of injury time his header was saved, but he reacted quickest to stick the rebound away.

For most of the night it looked like Saturday's play-off semi-final second leg would be a straight knock-out tie, with no away goals rule.

Calum Gallagher's header on 55 minutes was equalised nine minutes later by Bobby Linn. Chances came and went for each team until Barr's late heroics.

Saturday will still be nerve-shredding stuff, but it is advantage Sons - all that could be asked for on the night.

While the second half was exciting, the first was rather pedestrian fare. On 15 minutes a Danny Handling header was touched away by the keeper. It fell to Tom Walsh, but he was flagged offside.

Colin Hamilton and Ryan Wallace each narrowly missed for Arbroath before another Walsh effort, this time onside, flashed across goal and passed.

Just before half time there was a real escape. Wallace charged down Scott Gallacher's clearance and set up Michael McKenna, but the midfielder shot wide.

Sons had defended against the wind in the first half and hoped to use it to their advantage after the restart. Typically, the wind died down.

But 10 minutes after the interval, Andy Stirling's cross found Walsh at the back post. He headed it back to the edge of the six yard box where Gallagher was waiting to head home.

The lead, though, lasted only nine minutes, as a free kick came into the area and Linn got there first to power home a header.

Arbroath were now moving again and Blair Yule forced an excellent save from Gallacher before Gavin Swankie blasted over when well placed.

A Stirling cross bent towards goal and rebounded from the post, but the home side were still dangerous and with 13 minutes left, David Smith cleared off the line twice. A third effort, this time from Linn, was pushed over by Gallacher.

In the final 10 minutes Dumbarton ramped things up again. Stirling shot narrowly wide after beating two defenders before Iain Russell sliced past from close range.

When Hamilton put Liam Burt's low ball over his own bar with a minute to go, that seemed to be it. All back to Sons' place on Saturday to do it all again with a blank canvas.

But when Smith's cross found Barr in the third added minute, it was advantage Dumbarton.

The job has still to be finished and will take a great deal of work to be complete. Sons, though, have the edge at the start of play.

How are your nerves for Saturday?

Arbroath: Hutton; Little, Hamilton, O'Brien, Martin, Yule, Linn, McKenna (McIntosh 78), Wallace (Hester 80), Swankie, Denholm (Gold 70). Subs: Gomes; Skelly, Kader, Whatley. Booked: Martin, Swankie.

Dumbarton: S Gallacher; Smith, Dowie, Carswell, C Gallagher (Russell 72), Walsh (Burt 80), Hutton, Handling, Dick, Stirling, Barr. Subs: Ewings; G Gallagher, Stewart, Froxylias, Nisbet.

Referee: Nick Walsh.

Andy Galloway