Dumbarton Football Club - Sons of the Rock 1872

Dundee Utd (2) v Dumbarton (2)

Saturday 29th April 2017, Kick Off 5.15pm

Ladbrokes Championship

FOR 14 minutes, it was officially on. Survival Saturday.

As it is, Dumbarton have one foot in next season's Championship. The other foot will be there next Saturday barring results which would have Guinness scrambling for the record books.

After Anthony Andreu headed Dundee United in front, some would have had this down as a matter of how many. Anybody who did has not seen how hard Sons have battled this season.

Robert Thomson equalised and when Lewis Vaughan put them in front, Sons were heading towards survival with a game to spare.

Thomas Mikkelsen denied them that prospect with a late equaliser. For the first time in Dumbarton's five years in the Championship, the crusade to stay up will not officially end until the last day.

A point at home to Falkirk will do the job. They might not even need that if Raith Rovers cannot beat Ayr United, overturning 10 goals in the process.

St Mirren would also need a result at Hibernian on the day the Easter Road side receive the league trophy if they were to overhaul Sons.

It all looks good — but it's not Survival Saturday until the job is officially done. One final day of drama in the scheduled league season awaits.

Within four minutes, home striker Simon Murray could have single handedly had Dumbarton 2-0 down. He skied his first opportunity after 40 seconds when the ball broke to him in the area.

Then he connected with a low ball at the back post, but again missed the target.

Sons got a grip and avoided any further close calls until the 21st minute. However, it was the moment that put them up against it.

Andreu connected with Blair Spittal's corner and despite keeper Alan Martin making contact with his header, it found the net.

Last year's Survival Saturday started with Dumbarton going a goal down to St Mirren. Nothing to worry about.

And within five minutes they were almost level when Thomson's header from Sam Stanton's corner went over at the far post.

There then followed a critical 60 seconds, starting on the 33rd minute, when it became even clearer this was not Murray's day. His header was on target, but Martin did magnificently to push it away.

That could, arguably should, have been 2-0. Within a minute it was 1-1.

Thomson has already scored at Tannadice, where he learned his trade as a youth player, this season. He again showed his former club what they were missing, connecting with Stanton's flick and heading home.

It was the spark Sons needed.

Five minutes after the leveller, they were awarded a free kick 20 yards out. With United lining up their wall, Christian Nade took it quickly to send Vaughan clear, but the home keeper saw the danger.

The ball spun loose but the angle was too narrow for Vaughan to score with the follow-up.

The second half began in the same way as the first 45 minutes ended. Vaughan's narrow angled shot was saved before Andy Stirling looked to have found Thomson with a low ball. However, he could not connect at the back post and the chance was gone.

But after Sons survived a Murray effort which drifted wide of the far post, Survival Saturday 2017 was on.

Stanton played Vaughan in, and from a narrow angle, he made no mistake. Twenty six minutes were all that stood between Dumbarton and guaranteed Championship survival.

Everybody knew what a defensive effort it would take, but still the chances came. Stanton was twice denied by the keeper, while Stirling broke through only to shoot straight at the keeper.

The minutes were being seen out, but with 12 of them remaining, life became a bit more difficult again.

Ali Coote's initial shot was saved by Martin, but when the ball spun loose, Mikkelsen was there to equalise.

From there, it was about taking a point and moving on to next Saturday with the odds in Sons' favour. United were pushing hard and any gaps at the back could be disastrous.

With a minute left, Andreu's shot looked on target, but Darren Barr did enough to deflect it away. From the resulting corner, Mikkelsen headed just over.

It ended all square. Round 35 ended with things looking positive for Dumbarton.

They are 90 minutes away from meeting their goal.

Dundee United: Bell; Durnan, Donaldson, Spittal, Murdoch, Murray, Flood, Kuate (Coote 72), Mikkelsen, Andreu, Robson. Subs: Zwick; Dillon, Dixon, Nicholls, Telfer, Allardice. Booked: Spittal, Donaldson.

Dumbarton: Martin; McCrorie, Buchanan, Carswell, Thomson, Stanton (Smith 89), Harvie, Barr, Stirling, Vaughan (Docherty 75), Nade (Fleming 83). Subs: Ewings; Lang, C Gallagher, Nuttall.

Referee: Nick Walsh.

Andy Galloway