Dumbarton Football Club - Sons of the Rock 1872

Arbroath (1) v Dumbarton (1)

Saturday 4th May 2019, Kick Off

League One

TO most people inside Gayfield, this match was just a sideshow.

It was events from 5pm onwards which mattered to Arbroath as they played their final 90 minutes before moving up to the Championship. And who could blame them?

But the Dumbarton squad as we know it wanted one last hurrah on the day, and nearly managed it.

Calum Gallagher marked his player of the month award, announced on the morning of the match, with the opening goal on 53 minutes.

Seven minutes later, though, Cammy Ballantyne's final act as a Sons player was to be sent off for handling Greig Spence's shot on the goal line. It may well have been a fantastic save; unfortunately for him he plays outfield.

Conor Brennan guessed the right way but could not keep out Michael McKenna's penalty. In a mirror image of events 27 years ago, Sons and the Red Lichties drew 1-1 before one side celebrated with the league trophy it had won. It was Dumbarton in 1992, this time it was Arbroath.

While the home side are looking forward to meetings with the next level of opposition next season, for Dumbarton it is about pushing to match that next season.

Some big decisions lie ahead in the coming weeks and there may well be more than just Ballantyne, who subsequently joined Montrose, and the four loanees, for whom this game was their last for the club.

A lot of waiting and seeing remains to be done, but whoever is at the club next season, the aim is to improve on this season's sixth-placed finish, as positively as things have gone since mid-January.

Luke Donnelly and Ryan McCord missed early chances for Arbroath before Brennan blocked from Gavin Swankie at close range.

A minute later Gallagher sliced wide after getting to a long ball before Brennan again saved to deny McCord.

Stuart Carswell then thought he had opened the scoring, but his bending shot rebounded from the post.

Gallagher, and then Mark Whatley, narrowly missed the target for each side but the former had better luck on 53 minutes.

Dom Thomas provided the final assist of his time at Dumbarton, playing the ball back from the goal line for his strike partner to stab home.

But on the hour mark, Alamo scenes in front of Brennan's goal resulted in Spence's shot being nudged away by Ballantyne's arm. Red card produced, penalty dispatched by McKenna.

It wasn't for the want of trying that the result stayed that way. Bobby Barr was denied by a miraculous close range save on 65 minutes before Brennan turned Ricky Little's volley over.

Iain Russell, still awaiting his 200th goal in football, thought he had it with two minutes remaining, but was ruled offside after getting to Thomas' through ball.

He then shot over from the edge of the area in the final chance of the season.

In 12 months' time, where will Dumbarton be? Who knows, maybe they had a glimpse of it after the match.

But a lot of work is in store ahead of trying to do that.

Arbroath: Jamieson; Gold, Whatley, Little, Hamilton, McCord (Wallace 71), McKenna, Donnelly (Doris 67), Spence (Linn 71), Swankie, Kader. Subs: Hill; Denholm, Thomson. Booked: McKenna.

Dumbarton: Brennan; Ballantyne, McLean, Carswell, Hutton (Van Schaik 58), Gallagher, Forbes, R Barr (Russell 67), Ferguson (Armour 86), Thomas, C Barr. Sub: Adam. Booked: Hutton, C Barr. Sent off: Ballantyne.

Andy Galloway