Wednesday, 19 January 2011

What comes around turns around

Something to cheer for a change...
If the match against Stenhousemuir on 15 January was a 'must-win' one for Dumbarton (that we lost), then last night's game with Alloa Athletic was a case of 'no, really, this time we must win' (and we did, 4-1). As Alex Ferguson once eloquently put it, "Bloody hell! Football."

Beforehand, the runes - looking rather more like ruins - hadn't seemed too promising, and many Sons supporters arrived at Strathclyde Homes Stadium with a barely disguised air of resignation about them. If we couldn't beat the second bottom side, how would it be against one in the top half?

But then we need to keep reminding ourselves: the Second Division is a ten club setup, and to be frank there's no side that looks streets above the others - not even current leaders Ayr United (who, incidentally, deserve hearty congratulations for beating SPLers Hibernian 1-0 at Somerset Park in the Scottish Cup tonight, having held them at Easter Road).  And so it proved to be. Alloa had flashes of superior skill and sharpness, but overall Dumbarton contained them, grew in confidence as the goals rolled in, and played some good touch football in the latter stages of the second half.

I gather that gaffer Alan Adamson reckoned afterwards that the decisive issue was the finishing, and that the performance was not much different from the one Sons put on against Stenny. I have to say that, from where I was sitting, I disagree. Not with the first point, but with the second. For much of this match Dumbarton looked a different proposition to the nervy outfit on Saturday who sometimes lacked shape, often missed their passes, and hesitated in their decision-making. "Who were those guys in yellow who turned up this evening?" asked one wag on the way out this evening.

Mind you, there was one horrid extraneous moment at half time, when smoke started to drift over the stand carrying the unmistakable odour of burning rubber. Ugh, a fire!  It turned out to be some tyres, and not too close to SHS. I confess that I had one of those embarrassingly revealing 'football fan moments', in that my very first thought was, "Oh no, please don't let the game be abandoned... not when we're 2-0 up for a change!" - followed rapidly by the correct response: "I hope it isn't serious, and that no-one is hurt."  (It wasn't, they weren't).

Since the printed programme (supplemented by an insert) was one dating back to the original postponement on 30 November last year,  I was also relieved that this convincing victory vindicated the wisdom of what had looked before the game to be a startlingly inappropriate headline on my article of seven weeks ago: Moving in the right direction.

So let's keep the direction charted against the Wasps at Methil this coming weekend, as we face  relegation rivals East Fife (who, from our perspective, were thankfully dumped 4-2 by Livingston tonight, having led 1-0 at the break). Meeting the Fifers gives Dumbarton the chance to make up ground lost against Stenny - and to capitalise on all that good work against Alloa.

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