Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Stenhousemuir 2 -v- Dumbarton 2

My match report first appeared on the official DFC website. 

Another goalmouth scramble
In a game of sharply contrasting highs and lows, Sons claimed a point from a 2-2 draw away against Stenhousemuir, when only 20 minutes from the end it had seemed they were on course for a comfortable victory after leading by two clear goals.

Dumbarton showed most of the initial purpose, coming out of the starting blocks with real pace, and pushing the home team firmly onto the defensive.

Sons' best early chance came when Pat Walker burst through on 8 minutes and steamed a shot past Ally Brown in the Stenhousemuir goal, only for the ball to ricochet off the far corner and upright.

By then Craig McLeish and Jon McShane had already threatened with a wide strike and looping header respectively, as the eager visitors milled around the opposition area, trying to find a way past a packed defence.

It was around the quarter hour before Stenny started to come back. There was a minor scare for Dumbarton when a seemingly harmless ball almost caught Stephen Grindlay off balance, but the big 'keeper stretched his arm out and recovered well.

As the half progressed, Sons started to give the ball away needlessly, despite gaining more of the possession, and Stenhousemuir grew in confidence visibly.

On 24 minutes Pat Walker broke again, but his probing pass across the face of the area could not find another Sons player far enough forward, with McLeish just beyond range.

A slightly scrappy period of play ensued, with neither side able to maintain shape in the middle of the park. Sons had a let-off when Scott Dalziel hit the bar with Grindlay stranded.

For Dumbarton, Ryan McStay struck another effort wide of the post on 37 minutes. But Stenhousemuir, though often pinned back, continually denied Sons the space they required.

The home side came out fired-up for the second half and began to create all kinds of problems for an uncertain looking Sons back line. It was almost a reverse mirror of the opening of the game, when the visitors had looked dangerous.

Then suddenly Dumbarton turned a corner. A fine run and through ball from Mark Gilhaney found Jon McShane in a good position to slice a curving shot past the Stenhousemuir 'keeper to put Sons one up on 50 minutes.

More home pressure followed, however. Dumbarton conceding two perilous free kicks on the edge of either side of the area, but both of them came to nothing.

On 68 minutes, with nerves jangling among the away support, McShane again asserted himself in front of goal with a thunderous strike to give Dumbarton a 2-0 lead.

Two minutes later the pendulum seemed to swing further in Sons' favour when Stenhousemuir went down to ten men after a straight red card for a late challenge as the ball went out of play by Ian Thompson.

Only a miraculous one-handed save from Ally Brown prevented Dumbarton from going three up, as they began to use the space to search for further advantage.

But in the space of less than four minutes disaster struck. First, a challenge from Andy Geggan conceded a penalty that enabled Eric Paton to pull a goal back from the spot for the home side. 2-1 on 80 minutes.

Then Stenhousemuir caught the Dumbarton defence flat when run at with pace from the wing, and Mike Hunter charged in to head decisively past Stephen Grindlay to equalise on 83.

Sons tried hard to regain the lead against Stenny's ten men, with two opportunities going wide and the men from Larbert pushing back to find unexpected space with which to torment Dumbarton's back line.

The score stayed 2-2 in the final minutes. With other results going the right way the damage was not as bad as it could have been, but it still leaves Sons in need of good performances and results in successive home games against fellow-strugglers Alloa and Peterhead.

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