Dumbarton Football Club - Sons of the Rock 1872

Cumnock (1) v Dumbarton (3)

Friday 21st October 2022, Kick Off 7.45pm

Scottish Cup

UNTIL Gregor Buchanan rose to meet Ross MacLean's cross with 13 minutes left, this remained a game for the romantics of the Scottish Cup.

It had everything if you were a neutral. West of Scotland Premiership v cinch League Two, under the floodlights, in weather conditions which could be described as a leveller.

And level is what it was until that point. Even after Stuart Carswell opened the scoring from the penalty spot on 28 minutes, it was very hazardous to think Dumbarton were home and dry against Cumnock.

So that proved five minutes into the second half. The home side emerged from the interval ready to give it a real go, and Ryan Carnwath equalised to make it game on again.

As long as it stayed 1-1, the possibility remained of another Dave McGinley or Adam Nelson being out there in black and white to put Sons out of the cup to non-league opponents.

But Buchanan's powerful header swung things back in the visitors' favour before the best was saved for last.

Even though the game was now in injury time, Finlay Gray had the absolute beating of the home defence to round the keeper and slot away the goal that sealed it. Brief breaks will be taken from work at 4pm on Monday to see who Dumbarton will face in round three in five weeks' time.

Cumnock were brave and battle-hardened, but Sons had enough to see them off. After the tough last few weeks, hopefully two goals from open play can make this a turning point as the league campaign resumes.

After Joe McKee and Gray had gone close with early chances, the former had another opportunity but shot wide from 12 yards.

Then for a second game in a row, the referee was pointing to the spot in Sons' favour, McKee being illegally challenged in the air as the ball came into the box.

Ex-Dumbarton keeper Jamie Barclay may have had some idea of what Carswell was going to do, but it didn't work, as the defender found the net, just as he did six days previously.

A shot by McKee then looked as if it may squirm into the corner after the keeper couldn't hold it, but it rolled wide, with a foul given from the resulting corner.

Cumnock had not unduly troubled the visiting defence too much in the first half, but came out ready to make a go of it in the second.

And having already fired one warning when a volley just missed the target, they made it game on again five minutes after the restart.

A break upfield ended with a dangerous ball into the area, and after sidestepping a defender, Carnwath shot home.

Sons fought to get on top of the game again, but McKee and Wallace missed the target with chances. A swerving effort by MacLean was also pushed away by Barclay.

Instead, MacLean turned provider five minutes later. After a series of crosses were met only with a home jersey, he tried again, and there was Buchanan waiting to finish at close range.

The plucky home side had nothing to lose now, and drove forward, but the defensive organisation that has served Dumbarton so well this season was in evidence again.

And as the 90 minutes ended on a tough evening when away supporters were battered by rain on the terracing, it may have seemed easy to take the 2-1 win and get up the road.

Only nobody told Gray, who after the ball broke to him 10 yards inside the Cumnock half, showed the stamina of a newly-introduced substitute instead of somebody who had played the full game on a demanding evening.

His touch took him clear of the home defence, another took him around the keeper, and his third planted it in the net. Game over.

Perhaps the best reward is yet to come. Maybe, after scoring twice from open play, the knack for it just might have been rediscovered.

We will know soon enough. Annan Athletic, though, will have plenty to say about that next Saturday.

Cumnock: Barclay; McLennan, Willett, Ferry, McAusland, Wilson, McLaughlin (Ross 87), Frye (Boyd 79), Moore, Sharpe (Conn 59), Carnwath (Veitch 59). Subs: Strain; Tart, Bell, Campbell, Dolan. Booked: Frye, Carnwath.

Dumbarton: Long; Buchanan, Carswell, Orsi (Wylde 88), MacLean, Lynas, McKee (D Wilson 70), Byrne (Wallace 61), Gray, Blair, McNiff. Subs: Broun; McGeever. Booked: Blair, McKee.

Referee: Dan McFarlane.