Dumbarton Football Club - Sons of the Rock 1872

Dumbarton (1) v Arbroath (1)

Saturday 5th May 2018, Kick Off 3pm

Championship Play-Off Semi-Final

SEASON 2017/18 started on Tuesday, July 18.

It all comes down to two games within four days, nearly 10 months later.

Dumbarton will be playing their 52nd and 53rd competitive games of the season after taking the battle for Championship survival right to its last knockings.

Which is exactly what Arbroath did to them in this semi-final second leg. The Angus side were beaten on aggregate, but they pushed Sons all the way.

When Dougie Hill headed Dumbarton in front after nine minutes, the Red Lichties needed two goals just to force extra time.

They had one of them 17 minutes later and spent the remaining 64 pushing relentlessly for the second — or even a third.

In the end, a strong Dumbarton resistance at the back was enough. In knockout football, it is result over performance every time.

In the end, Craig Barr's injury time winner on Wednesday proved to be the tie's decisive moment.

Now only Alloa stand between Sons and a seventh season in the Championship. It has been more of a marathon than some would have liked, but it is on the edge of being achieved.

But only after two final rounds of sweat and guts against the Wasps.

Dumbarton started the second leg against Arbroath as they finished the first — on the attack. And just as in the first leg, a centre half found the target.

After Andy Stirling's cross bent towards goal but was turned over, Tom Walsh swung in the resulting corner and Dougie Hill headed in the opener.

Another unlikely source of goals came close to grabbing a second, but Liam Dick was twice denied by the keeper.

Then, after several players could not get a shot away, Stuart Carswell did, but it was deflected wide. Stirling then blasted over from the resulting corner.

It all looked positive, but Arbroath soon gained control.

Bobby Linn forced a fine save from Scott Gallacher before Mark Whatley narrowly missed the target.

But Gavin Swankie then punished a poorly executed passback by intercepting the loose ball and finishing.

The rest of the first half passed by without major incident, but the second almost caught fire straight away. Walsh found space to meet Stirling's cross and his shot beat the keeper, but was cleared off the line.

Still Arbroath were dangerous, though, with Ryan Wallace twice testing Gallacher with low shots from the edge of the area.

Gallacher was equal to each of them, but was tested harder by Wallace's effort from wide on the left, which he scrambled to push wide.

As the visitors pushed forward, they left gaps at the back, and when Stirling set up Liam Burt 20 yards out with a gaping goal, that was almost the moment.

He missed the target, but it did not matter.

It all now comes down to two games with Alloa.

Dumbarton: S Gallacher; Smith, Dowie, Carswell, Walsh (Burt 75), Hutton (G Gallagher 46), Hill, Handling, Dick, Russell (Nisbet 57), Stirling. Subs: Ewings; D Wilson, Stewart, Froxylias. Booked: Stirling.

Arbroath: Hutton; Little, Hamilton, O'Brien, Martin, Whatley, Linn (Denholm 70), Yule (McCord 80), Wallace, Swankie, McKenna (McIntosh 73). Subs: Gomes; Gold, Kader, Skelly. Booked: Hamilton.

Andy Galloway