Dumbarton Football Club - Sons of the Rock 1872

Dundee Utd (2) v Dumbarton (1)

Saturday 22nd October 2016, Kick Off 3pm

Ladbrokes Championship

SOME said it all before the game.

About what happened after the last time Dumbarton beat Dundee United. Eight goals, Peter Dennison, Craig Brewster and all that.

In the end, United did exact revenge on Sons at Tannadice, just as they did 21 years ago.

But on another day, they wouldn't have. Had Dumbarton got one of those things they call a break, it could have been very different.

Seven days after the morale sapping defeat to Ayr United, a lack of luck could definitely be bemoaned here.

For the second consecutive meeting of the sides, Mark Docherty opened the scoring. Unfortunately this time his own team-mate, Alan Martin was the beaten keeper from a header which took the unluckiest spin off the midfielder.

When William Edjenguélé scored United's second shortly afterwards, that seemed to be that. The hosts had laboured, but had control of the game.

But Sons' fighting spirit was rediscovered and after Robert Thomson scrambled home a goal back, they threatened to level  and perhaps even win the game.

Unfortunately, while pride had long been secured, points couldn't. Dundee United's early second half performance had done just enough for them.

In terms of battling qualities, spirit and steel, this was just about all manager Stevie Aitken could have asked for after the Ayr game. A response to that forgettable afternoon it certainly was.

The one area where they went wrong? Not scoring when they were on top.

For long spells, Dumbarton were dominating against the side relegated from last season's top flight. They just couldn't get in front where it mattered.

Now they know what they need to add in four huge games to come. That sequence starts with games against the two teams who, for now, are isolated with them in the bottom three - Dunfermline and St Mirren.

Those are followed by a home double header against Morton and Raith Rovers. All of those games are tough, but Sons will feel points are possible.

To gain them, there is only one thing they need to add to this performance.

A measure of luck, and a bigger quantity of fine goalkeeping, was certainly with them after six minutes. After Tope Obadeyi squared for Scott Fraser 12 yards out, the United man couldn't miss.

Only he did. Martin got a hand to his effort at close range and that was enough to turn it on to the post, with the loose ball scrambled clear.

After 17 minutes came another near miss, this time for Dumbarton when the ball dropped to Garry Fleming in a crowded goal area. The goalkeeper was equal to his effort.

Soon after, a Thomson header was pushed away, before Martin again brilliantly denied Fraser, this time from a 25 yard free kick.

After Martin also saved from Nick Van Der Velden, the resulting corner saw Gregor Buchanan head Coll Donaldson's header off the line. He then had a shot inside the opposite penalty area, but the keeper saved again.

But seven minutes into the second half, fortune deserted Sons. Docherty's header from Fraser's corner would have gone clear 999 times out of 1,000.

This was the 1,000th occasion, as a wicked spin on the ball took it out of Martin's reach.

Sam Stanton came closest to levelling with a 20 yard shot which was saved, but on 66 minutes United looked to have sealed it.

It came from another Fraser corner, with Martin initially saving Willo Flood's effort but unable to deny Edjenguélé from the loose ball.

However, six minutes later the game was back on again, as it deserved to be.

Andy Stirling's ball into the area could have been a cross or a shot at goal. Whatever he was looking to do, the ball fell to Thomson, who forced it home.

Shortly afterwards appeals for a foul on Stanton by Donaldson, approaching the edge of the area, went unheard by the officials.

Apart from a narrow angled Van Der Velden shot which rolled past the far post, Sons rarely looked like conceding again.

But they couldn't score either.

In terms of performance, this was pride restored.

Now, with four vital games coming up, it's all about points.

Dundee United: Bell; Dixon, Donaldson, Fraser, Obadeyi (Coote 87), Telfer, Edjenguélé, Flood, Andreu, Van Der Struijk, Van Der Velden. Subs: Zwick; Dillon, Murray, C Smith, B Smith, Allardice.

Dumbarton: Martin; Docherty, J Thomson (McCallum 86), Buchanan, Todd (Stirling 66), Fleming (Stevenson 79), R Thomson, Stanton, Harvie, Barr, Smith. Subs: Ewings; Pettigrew, Wright.

Referee: Craig Charleston.

Andy Galloway