Dumbarton Football Club - Sons of the Rock 1872

Dumbarton (2) v Inverness CT (1)

Saturday 23rd September 2017, Kick Off 3pm

Ladbrokes Championship

THIS was the last match of another year of Stevie Aitken's life.

It could be just the start of his Dumbarton team seriously impressing on this season's Championship.

Two days before his 41st birthday, the gaffer oversaw a victory against Inverness CT which made it two wins out of two in a vital home double header.

Similarly to the success over Brechin seven days before, it was a game of two halves. The first was dominated by the visitors, who only had Connor Bell's eighth minute goal to show for it.

But there was a difference from there. Sons played well for longer after the restart, picking up the three points through Dimitris Froxylias and Sam Wardrop.

And although they had to defend their lead for almost half an hour, they always looked at ease, especially after the visitors' Gary Warren became the fourth player sent off in as many games in G82.

Now, if they beat either Livingston or St Mirren in the next two league games, Sons will have the most points they've taken from the first quarter of any season in the current Championship era.

It sounds exciting - but the first half was a reminder that a reality check is always awaiting.

After Sons twice squandered possession in the eighth minute, they were punished by Bell clinically finishing with an angled shot.

He could have had a hat-trick by the end of what was generally a poor first half. On 22 minutes he beat the offside to run through, but Scott Gallacher saved smartly at close range.

Eight minutes later the ball dropped to him almost on the goal line, but Dougie Hill blocked his header.

All Dumbarton offered in response was a Craig Barr shot which went narrowly wide.

It was hard to imagine how Aitken's half time team talk could be that different to against Brechin last week. There was definitely still something in the game for Sons, but going forward it simply had to be more threatening.

And within two minutes of the restart, it was, to the fullest possible extent. The visiting defence could not head a cross clear and the ball fell for Froxylias to fire home.

Nine minutes later Bell was close to restoring the lead for Inverness, but his angled shot missed the target after taking a deflection.

And on 61 minutes came the game's pivotal moment, starting when Warren fouled Mark Stewart 20 yards out and picked up what would prove a costly booking.

There was, of course, only one man eyeing up the free kick. Froxylias was frustrated by the keeper turning his shot on to the bar, but Wardrop snapped up the rebound.

It was a feeling Sons had waited 23 years to experience - being in a winning position against Inverness CT. They now had the best part of half an hour to see it out.

With 18 minutes left, Liam Polworth almost wrested it from them again, but stabbed wide from a promising position.

Then, with 10 minutes remaining, Warren went down in the area under Andy Dowie's challenge and the whistle went. The Dumbarton end of the stand feared the worst.

But the referee was actually penalising Warren for simulation and booked him a second time. Just as everybody queried 'Wasn't he booked earlier?' the penny dropped and the red card was eventually waved.

Soon afterwards Greg Morrison had the chance to clinch it, but couldn't make clean contact with Froxylias' cross and his glancing header was wide.

In the end, it mattered not. Only seven minutes into the season, Sons are three points off the top four and six ahead of the bottom two.

Happy birthday Stevie indeed.

Dumbarton: S Gallacher; McLaughlin, Dowie, Stewart (C Gallagher 88), Walsh (Wilson 80), Wardrop, Hutton, Hill, Froxylias, Nade (Morrison 71), Barr. Subs: Ewings; Smith, Johnston, Roy. Booked: Walsh, Barr, Hill, Wilson.

Inverness CT: Fon Williams; Tremarco (Mulraney 77), Warren, Polworth, Vigurs, Oakley (Baird 86), Bell, B McKay, Donaldson, Trafford. Subs: Ridgers; Elsdon, Zschusschen, Cooper, C Mackay. Booked: Vigurs. Booked and sent off: Warren.

Referee: Colin Steven.

Andy Galloway