Saturday, 24 October 2009

The power of three

First published in Sons View, 23 October 2009, Dumbarton -v- Arbroath

It’s now three games since the Sons last made a match day appearance at the Rock, and boy don’t we feel better! Three wins in a row - including lifting the Stirlingshire Cup against Stenhousemuir – has provided a tremendous boost after a very difficult start to the season. It would be foolish to say that all is now well. You can never stand still in modern football. But at last we’re heading in the right direction.

After last week’s convincing 3-1 victory against Alloa Athletic (who had beaten us by the same score on 8 August), I found myself thinking further about the provenance of the number three for the Sons this season. Apart from the stats I’ve already mentioned, seven of our league matches this term have involved one or other of the teams scoring three goals. Only three haven’t. We’ve also recorded victories on each of the last three away trips.

What would be good now would be three home wins in a row to rectify the displeasing ‘zero’ on that front, starting this afternoon against Arbroath – who also beat us 3-1 at Gayfield back in August, you will recall. Obviously that means we owe the Red Lichties three back, starting as soon as possible after 3pm today. By my reckoning we also have a quartet of players who are on the threshold of notching up their first three goals this season, and naturally we await the first Dumbarton hat-trick. I suppose that should have come on the third Saturday in October rather than the fourth, but you can’t have it all.

Not everything about this three lark ends up going your way, you will have noticed. We’ve lost three games at home so far, for example. That said, there’s always a compensating factor. Like being only three points short of the trio of play-off places, for example – and not finding ourselves wholly fixated on the other end of the table. We are also grouped with three other teams on 11 points.

Thinking in threes can start to warp your mind in other ways, too. When I was retuning the radio last week I winced as I found myself accidentally listening to a track from a less-than-stellar album called ‘The Power of Three’, put out a few years ago by a reformed version of the old prog rock trio Emerson Lake and Palmer (known to their detractors as ‘cumbersome, fake and trauma’), featuring Cozy Powell on drums. I’m not sure that it lasted three minutes before I made it to the off button! Just in case I’ve offended someone in this regard, I should mention that one of ELP’s best efforts is called… yup, ‘Trilogy’.

Right, back to the action this afternoon. Our opponents from Tayside will share with Sons a desire to put further points and goals in the bank and navigate towards a more secure position in the Second Division, which is proving very tight at the moment. Apart from leaders Stirling Albion, who are five points clear, and Brechin and Cowdenbeath, who are chasing hard, the other seven teams in the league are all covered by just four points. So a couple of matches can make a big difference, as we have already seen over the past fortnight.

After ten years rising up to the First Division and then sinking back to the Third (they sank to the basement in 2005 after being beaten by Dumbarton – yes, you guessed it, 3-0), the Red Lichties consolidated themselves in seventh place in the Second Division last year. They won promotion to this level the season before the Sons, while we were busily trying to avoid the wooden spoon.

Arbroath now come to the Strathclyde Homes Season on the back of a 1-0 defeat to the Blue Brazil, who they beat in the first stage of the 2007-8 play-offs, as it happens. Like Dumbarton, their fragile form this season means that they have been better on the road than performing on home turf. Apart from the hard-fought 2-2 draw against the Binos on 10 October, the Lichties have endured eight defeats in their last nine outings, so they will be very keen indeed to try to reverse their poor form. It should be a strongly contested game.

OK, I’ll see some of you on the third Saturday in November, when Peterhead visit us and I’m next able make a trek up to SHS from The Far Post.

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