|Dumbarton press forward|
Dumbarton were in the end well beaten by Airdrie United in a tough contest at the Excelsior Stadium, going down 2-1 to a second half resurgence from the home side – having led 1-0 at the break.
With both teams keen to secure points and goals for their respective ambitions at either end of the table, the opening quarter hour of the game was an edgy affair.
Airdrie United had more of the initial play. With Dumbarton looking unsettled at the back, they threatened on several occasions. Phil Johnston, in particular, made a number of darting, angled runs.
At the other end, Sons occasionally harried their opponents, but without creating much more than a half chance for the vigilant Pat Walker.
Then on 16 minutes Jordan Halsman broke the deadlock for Dumbarton with a delightfully struck free-kick from the edge of the Diamonds' penalty area, just after the home side had failed to capitalise on a similar dead-ball situation at the other end of the park. 1-0 to Sons.
Moments later, United's Scott Morton connected with a chipped ball from near the corner flag, but his header flew past Sons 'keeper Michael White's far post.
The match tipped back and forth for the remainder of the half. Ryan McCord went close for the Diamonds just after the half hour, but Dumbarton pressed back with increasing determination – beginning to control the match in midfield and looking more secure at the back, before suddenly wavering again under several late waves of attack.
Graeme Owens won a free-kick for Airdrie in an almost perfect central position minutes before the break. But fortunately for Sons, he hit the ball well over the bar.
Michael White pulled off two superb stops early in the second period, preventing United from getting back into the game, after the home side restarted with energy and purpose. For the first save he tipped a sharply-angled shot just off the near post. Then moments later he dived to block a close range effort on the ground.
In between, Pat Walker burst through the centre for Sons, attempting to chip Diamonds' Mark Ridgers at pace, but lobbing just too high. Jordan White had another chance denied by the home side's 'keeper not long after.
Meanwhile, at the other end, Dumbarton were increasingly riding their luck as the Airdrie United resurgence continued apace. Johnston struck wildly at one opportunity, several goalmouth scrambles ended in chances going begging, and another long free-kick from the far side was skied over Sons' bar.
In an open game, both sides continued to create chances. Nicky Devlin, James Creaney and Ben Gordon made good clearances for Sons, and White again stopped McCord – who turned out to be just offside.
The Diamonds continued to come forward in strength as Dumbarton clung on to their single goal lead tenaciously. A contentiously awarded free-kick 30 yards out gave McCord another opportunity, but he struck the ball safely into the Sons' keeper's arms.
Coming on to replace number 9 Jordan White with nearly 20 minutes to go, Dumbarton substitute Derek Carcary nearly made an instant impact. Latching on to a ball worked out of a throw-in, he placed it with power, and high to Ridgers' right, inching it just over.
Then a double disaster struck Dumbarton. On 76 minutes, Airdrie substitute Scott Sally came charging in for a high cross. Michael White mistimed his run out, and the Diamonds' striker nudged in an equaliser with his shoulder.
The ball was in the back of the Dumbarton net again four minutes later, as Scott Martin bundled in from close range after McCord had been given free range on the far side. 2-1 to Airdrie United.
Sons pushed back. Craig McLeish came on for Ryan McStay, but the visitors had run out of time.
The result leaves Sons still fighting to keep out of the relegation play-offs, albeit with a six-point advantage over Stenhousemuir, who have a superior goal difference, with three games each still to play.