Dumbarton Football Club - Sons of the Rock 1872

Dumbarton (2) v St Mirren (1)

Saturday 23rd April 2016, Kick Off 3pm

Ladbrokes Championship

IT might have been good for the nerves if Dumbarton had achieved their goal earlier in the season.

But if survival had already been clinched, this might not have happened.

The kind of afternoon which not only ensures you hit your target, but it's done in a way they'll be talking about for some time.

It WAS Survival Saturday. With survival, and a fifth season in the Championship, secured by a player who's been there since day one in the second tier.

Garry Fleming's stunning volley on 54 minutes was the moment that clinched the three points, with Calum Gallagher's opener for St Mirren equalised by Keith Watson's own goal.

By virtue of that, and Queen of the South's 3-1 win over Livingston, Sons can start planning for a fifth consecutive Championship season.

As a part-time side which has competed with the likes of Rangers, Hearts, Hibernian and Dundee to achieve survival four years on the trot.

This wasn't just a day of celebration. It was one of real, raw pride.

With kick-off delayed by 15 minutes due to traffic problems in the area, events in Dumfries had a headstart on those at Dumbarton.

But even with that, the first blow of the afternoon was struck by St Mirren. On 10 minutes a headed clearance fell to Gallagher, whose shot from the edge of the area found its way into the net.

Sons' response was almost immediate, but Steven Saunders' header from Mark Docherty's corner hit Fleming on the goal line and bounced clear.

Even allowing for that, St Mirren were on top. Only a challenge by Gregor Buchanan kept David Clarkson from putting away a tap-in, while Lawrence Shankland was put through but kept out by Jamie Ewings at close range.

At the other end, Fleming latched on to Buchanan's header but sliced his shot wide.

Then news broke that Sam Stanton had given Livingston the lead over Queen of the South. As it stood, Sons could not finish the job on the day even if they turned it round to win.

However, after surviving more near misses from Stephen Mallan and then Shankland again, they gave it a real go.

And six minutes from half time came a move which deserved a finish.

Watson probably wouldn't have wanted to be the man to supply it, but he did so by turning Docherty's low ball past his own keeper.

So midway through the afternoon, one goal each for Sons and Queens would mean that everything was on track.

Within three minutes of the second half at Dumbarton, both teams had hit the woodwork. The home side went first when Paul Heffernan was put clear only for his low finish to hit the post.

Having just gone close, Sons then survived in similar circumstances when Shankland hit the bar from 25 yards.

But following that came a change in atmosphere. The favour Sons needed down the M74 was being done, with Derek Lyle equalising for Queen of the South.

All Dumbarton needed to do was score. A tap-in would do. In fact, it was more special than that.

After the ball broke to him on the edge of the area, Fleming thrashed home his third goal against the Paisley side this season.

If Sons could hang on for 36 more minutes, and Queens for around 26, it would also be the goal that secured survival with two games to spare.

As it turned out, events at Palmerston took care of themselves. Lyle scored again and Gary Oliver added a third.

Now it was all down to Sons, who had a narrow escape with 18 minutes left. Buchanan, for the second time in the afternoon, made the big intervention, clearing off the line when Gallagher's shot had Ewings beaten.

Rocco Quinn, and then Gallagher again, had shots which missed the target. But Dumbarton saw it out.

The season has featured two wins, possibly three yet, over Scotland's double cup finalists, and three over the newly-relegated club, plus other highlights.

It has the ending it deserves.

Dumbarton: Ewings; Docherty, Saunders, Buchanan, Fleming, Barr, Routledge, Lindsay (Gallagher 75), Heffernan (Nade 71), Wright, Walsh (Waters 86). Subs: Brown; Taggart, Cawley, McCallum. Booked: Fleming, Barr.

St Mirren: Langfield; Naismith, Webster, Mallan, Watson, Gallagher (Thompson 83), Clarkson (Morgan 66), Shankland, Quinn, Irvine, Cooper (Stewart 81). Subs: Willison; Goodwin, Carswell, Baird. Booked: Mallan.

Referee: Kevin Graham.

Crowd: 1,387.


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Andy Galloway