Dumbarton Football Club - Sons of the Rock 1872

Dunfermline Athletic (5) v Dumbarton (1)

Saturday 17th July 2021, Kick Off 3pm

Premier Sports Cup

LOOK at it this way. Yes, it was a disastrous start, but not even the worst one made by Dumbarton to a League Cup match this century.

You don't have to be that old to be able to recall Livingston coming to Cliftonhill, where Sons were ground sharing, in August 2000 and running in three goals in the opening seven minutes on their way to a 4-0 victory.

There is no getting away from it, though. Sons have a long list of tough watches at East End Park over the years and, try as they did, this was another for the collection.

Had this been a boxing match, the stretcher would have been called for and the smelling salts applied long before the last bell of the night.

Dumbarton, so badly hamstrung by injuries and isolations, just had to go out there and give it everything they had. Unfortunately, by the time they had any sort of grip, they were 2-0 down.

After Nikolai Todorov had scored a slightly fortuitous opener for Dunfermline, Dom Thomas made what seemed an inevitable contribution to his former side's downfall. When he did that, barely three minutes had elapsed.

The Pats were kind enough to wait until the 29th minute before adding a third through Craig Wighton, and a Gregor Buchanan own goal early in the second half, made it four.

Despite a well taken goal by Ross MacLean to get themselves on the board, Sons continued to come under relentless assault and a Kevin O'Hara header made it five.

Had that tally been added to, there could have been little, if any, cause for complaint, so dominant were the home side. But they stopped at five, although that made it no less tough a watch for anybody of a Dumbarton persuasion.

Young full backs Sam Muir and Kirk McKnight were pitched into an extremely tough challenge and took it on manfully, able to leave the field with their heads held high.

But no sooner had they and their teammates entered it than Dunfermline's assault on their goal had begun, with devastating early results.

With the time being counted in seconds, Kyle MacDonald sent over a low ball which Sam Ramsbottom got a hand to. Unfortunately it was deflected up on to Todorov's leg and rolled agonisingly into the net.

Barely two minutes later a cross from the left broke to Thomas in the area and he twisted and turned to finish. Who on earth knew he was capable of such skill?

Ryan McGeever tried to respond with a long distance shot which was saved, but shades of that Livingston game were creeping in when Aaron Comrie met a cross at the back post. Fortunately, Ramsbottom stood up well, conceding only a corner which came to nothing.

Dumbarton then did start to play a bit going forward, with Conner Duthie and Eoghan Stokes each having a shot, but neither unduly troubling the home goal.

The thing was that Dunfermline continued to trouble theirs, and eventually another cross came in from the left, with Wighton charging in to power home a header. Just when it looked like one goal would give Sons a lifeline, game well and truly over with an hour left.

They fought on, with a MacLean shot just missing the upright before a challenge denied Kristoffer Syvertsen (pictured) from close range.

All that could really be hoped for in the second half were no more goals, but once again the home side started strongly, with Buchanan's clearance denying Todorov a second.

But just a minute later, he put through his own net from a Josh Edwards cross, with Todorov waiting to score his second in any case.

Sons did not fold, though, and after a slack pass in midfield, they had one back. MacLean cashed in by running into the area to score with a fine angled finish.

But Dunfermline were not finished either. Thomas, Wighton and Comrie all had further chances to add to the lead while Kevin O'Hara was well denied by Ramsbottom at close range.

He wasn't to be denied, though, heading home a cross from the right with 20 minutes remaining.

The Pars could have had more, the pick of their remaining chances being when Ramsbottom did well to get down and save another header by O'Hara.

One of those days. A tough watch, and a tough lesson for some young players, but one of those days.

Sons' interest in the competition is now officially over, but they'll have players back for Tuesday's final tie, away to Partick. We'll see then how much of a tough learning exercise this was.

Dunfermline Athletic: Mehmet; Comrie, Edwards (Fenton 85), Graham, MacDonald, O'Hara, Wighton, Todorov (Todd 75), Allan (Pybus 46), Thomas, Watson (Gaspuitis 46). Sub: Fon Williams.

Dumbarton: Ramsbottom; McGeever, Buchanan, Carswell, Duthie, Stokes (Wilson 67), MacLean, Syvertsen, Muir, McKnight, Hopkirk. Subs: Erskine; Maley.

Referee: David Dickinson.

Andy Galloway