Dumbarton Football Club - Sons of the Rock 1872

St Mirren (1) v Dumbarton (1)

Saturday 8th April 2017, Kick Off 3pm

Ladbrokes Championship

THERE you have it, then. Roller Coaster Saturday.

Every inch the nerve-shredding afternoon it was expected to be. Most of Dumbarton's attention on events in Paisley, a measure on what was going on in Ayr and Dunfermline.

And after it all, they ended it in a better position than they did before.

St Mirren, with everything to play for in their bid to complete the great escape, threw everything at them and took an early lead through Kyle Magennis.

Even after Lewis Vaughan equalised for Sons, there was more pressure to face from the spot a few minutes later, but keeper Alan Martin, for the second penalty in succession, did the job against Rory Loy.

Half time arrived with all three games level. Then Dunfermline led against Raith Rovers and, soon afterwards, Queen of the South were winning at Ayr United. Short of a winner for Dumbarton, all was falling into place.

It didn't come in the end as St Mirren continued to battle and forced Martin into action. But they found him in almost infallible form, and all that they added to their match stats was the late sending off of Adam Eckersley for a second booking.

Honours even then, and Sons, by virtue of Raith and Ayr's defeats - which ended 1-0 and 2-0 respectively - took that.

The opening goal could have arrived even earlier than it did, and for either side. Dumbarton threatened first, with Darren Barr's header hitting the top of the bar and going over.

Gary MacKenzie then headed wide when well placed for the Buddies, but on 11 minutes the home side gave the roller coaster journey its first turn.

They found Sons reluctant to challenge as they passed their way through, and when the ball came to Magennis 10 yards out he struck home low at the near post.

Dumbarton were almost immediately level - they just hadn't reckoned on Saints' Gary Irvine being the man to do it for them. His sliced clearance was narrowly wide, with the corner coming to nothing.

Little goalmouth action followed until the 37th minute, when Sons levelled. Robert Thomson's header was only half cleared in the direction of Vaughan, who fired home.

However, just four minutes later there was controversy. A tussle in the area between Barr and Stephen McGinn resulted in a penalty being awarded, to the frustration of the players and the fans behind the goal.

Loy stepped up to the spot, Martin stepped up to the mark, punching the effort clear to his right.

Early in the second half he was called into action from another dead ball, pushing Stevie Mallan's free kick clear.

At the other end, Andy Stirling's low drive caused the home keeper problems, but he got across to turn it wide.

Just after the hour mark Martin again showed why he is so highly rated by the Sons support, turning another Mallan effort over at point blank range.

Vaughan then looked to be nudged off the ball by Jack Baird in the area about to go for goal, but the referee showed no interest in the appeals.

A late Josh Todd effort from distance, which Martin again saved, was as close as either side got to a goal in what remained of the game.

The game certainly was engrossing, compulsive viewing and ferociously contested, but it lacked in clear chances for either side as the afternoon drew to a close.

Just before full time Eckersley challenged too ferociously for the referee's liking, and as it was his second yellow card, it meant a slightly early end to his afternoon.

And that was it. Unlike last week against Morton, Vaughan's goal may be appreciated by his parent club Raith Rovers. Had he not scored it, the Kirkcaldy side would be level on points with St Mirren.

Four games to go. There are more twists to come, but Sons are in a strong position.

St Mirren: O'Brien; Stelios (Sutton 55), Irvine, MacKenzie, Mallan, Smith, Baird, Loy (Gordon 89), McGinn, Magennis (Todd 82), Eckersley. Subs: Langfield; Webster, Quinn, Fjelde. Booked: Stelios. Booked and sent off: Eckersley.

Dumbarton: Martin; McCrorie, Buchanan, Carswell, Thomson, Stanton, Harvie, Barr, Smith, Stirling, Vaughan (Nade 76). Subs: Ewings; Lang, Gallagher, Prior, Nuttall. Booked: Harvie, McCrorie, Carswell.

Referee: Steven Kirkland.

Andy Galloway