Dumbarton Football Club - Sons of the Rock 1872

Inverness CT (1) v Dumbarton (0)

Saturday 24th March 2018, Kick Off 4.15pm

Irn-Bru Cup

AND they all lived...well, that's the thing.

It was almost a fairytale, from the 'Once upon a time' against Rangers Colts to the drama of Oswestry.

But for Dumbarton, the 'happily ever after' is missing. How likely was it when Scott Gallacher made THAT save with eight minutes left?

Their name was surely on the Irn Bru Cup. The stars were all in line and this was their day against Inverness CT.

It wasn't.

Extra time would have been demanding, with some players so tired towards the end that they struggled to get out of neutral.

However, Sons had just about done enough to earn it - until Carl Tremarco made himself their villain of the afternoon.

When Daniel Mackay's low ball found him unmarked at the back post, in the second minute of injury time, the fairytale was left unfinished.

All the excitement ahead of the game, all the hope that Sons could do it, disappeared with barely a swing of a left back's boot.

There was never clear daylight between the two teams at any stage. Caley Thistle simply did the one thing that wins games, and they did it at the cruellest possible time.

The Road to Perth, and the experience of Dumbarton's first current national cup final for 121 years, will live with hundreds of people for decades to come.

It just doesn't have the ending that was wanted.

In the first half Sons were dominant in terms of chances and any time Inverness CT got forward, their efforts were dealt with.

Stuart Carswell and Iain Russell had chances deflected wide before Russell sent in a low ball which Calum Gallagher glanced across goal.

Then Russell was again the one trying to finish, this time from David Smith's cross, but couldn't hit the target with his header.

Caley Thistle did threaten late in the first half, but Gallacher was up to the task when Connor Bell and Liam Polworth got shots away.

The second half was more of a scrap, with Inverness CT more on top. Iain Vigurs narrowly missed the target from distance before Danny Handling's angled shot for Sons was saved.

With 11 minutes left, Craig Barr's shirt was visibly almost pulled off as he went for a corner. Referee Andrew Dallas chose to award a free kick to Caley Thistle.

Frustratingly, he was pointing to the spot at the other end three minutes later when Chris McLaughlin handled Aaron Doran's free kick.

Vigurs stepped up for the penalty, but Gallacher again met the challenge, saving low to his left.

By now Dumbarton were toiling physically, but still resisting strongly. After Joe Chalmers shot narrowly wide, Gallacher saved from Doran.

Then Mackay sent in a low ball from the right with the final whistle imminent and...that was that.

At least Sons could travel home with some consolation, not least the support of the crowd of over 4,600 which would still have been ringing in their ears.

They are also Scotland's best part-time team once again after Brechin City's relegation was confirmed.

Truth be told, though, that outcome wasn't the one they wanted if only that or victory in the final was possible. It was like losing the winning lottery ticket and finding another that wins you a tenner.

The history book has an exciting new chapter, albeit an ultimately fruitless one. But there is still something left to aim for.

Dumbarton: S Gallacher; Smith, McLaughlin, Dowie, Carswell, C Gallagher (Stewart 73), Walsh (Burt 80), Hutton, Handling, Russell (Froxylias 66), Barr. Subs: Ewings; G Gallagher, D Wilson, Hill. Booked: McLaughlin, Dowie, C Gallagher.

Inverness CT: Ridgers; Tremarco, Chalmers, Warren, Polworth, Vigurs, Oakley, Mulraney (Doran 69), Seedorf, Bell (D Mackay 77), Donaldson. Subs: Esson; Calder, Elbouzedi, Trafford, Brown. Booked: Tremarco, Donaldson.

Referee: Andrew Dallas.

Andy Galloway