Saturday, 30 April 2011

Livingston 1 -v- Dumbarton 1

My match report was first published on the official DFC website.

Sunshine and struggle at Almondvale
Amid scenes of celebration and relief, Dumbarton formally secured their place in Irn Bru Scottish Football League Division Two for season 2011-12, earning a 1-1 draw against Champions Livingston in a well-contested match.

From the outset it looked to be the kind of open and attacking game that a side with nothing to lose and another with everything to gain would play - in bright sunshine, in a lively atmosphere, and with a highly vocal, colourful away support.

However, despite plenty of early movement with the ball from both teams, there were no clear opportunities at either end. Then just after the quarter hour, two high and long floated balls from the respective number 7s caused Stephen Grindlay in the Sons goal and his Lions' opposite number Tony Bullock to tilt towards their crossbars.

On 19 minutes, Dumbarton's Pat Walker found himself receiving a through ball right in front of the Livingston goal. But he could not quite turn and shake off his marker, and the half chance drifted away.

Moments later, with the home side unable to find a way through themselves, Jon McShane burst behind the Lions' defence, turning his defender and angling his placed shot just wide of Bullock's post.

A free-kick on the edge of the area for Dumbarton produced a goalmouth scramble just after the half-hour, but Sons could not find a way through Livingston's well organised back line.

The Second Division champions pushed back strongly as the half drew to a close, striking the bar off a looping and slightly unexpected header from Kenny Deuchar.

Then just as it looked as if proceedings would draw to a quiet end for the first period, there was a flurry of activity. Pat Walker put Dumbarton one up on 42 minutes, skilfully latching on to a superbly and precisely placed in-swinging free kick from Andy Geggan.

McShane almost added a second shortly after, but was thwarted by the keeper again. Meanwhile, at the other end, Stephen Grindlay made a fine, vital stop from a Deuchar effort at point blank range.

In the second half, the party atmosphere at the Sons' supporters end continued. On the pitch, the Lions started to regain shape and composure after a ragged end to the first 45 minutes for them. But Dumbarton were not overawed, and Geggan nearly broke through as they pressed back.

Iconic Livi danger man Kenny Deuchar came off 12 minutes after the restart to be replaced by eventual goal scorer Winters. He showed clear intent, firing just over from a narrow angle. Grindlay also denied Livi midfielder Liam Fox, who replaced Bobby Barr on 63 minutes.

Dumbarton maintained their attacking prowess, however, forcing Bullock into another save at full stretch. For the Lions, a centrally situated free-kick from 20 yards went well over.

Sons created more chances and defended determinedly under pressure until in the 80th minute Robbie Winters finally cancelled out Pat Walker's first-half strike with an accomplished equaliser as Sons wheeled back.

Livingston's resurgence made for an anxious last ten minutes of the match, as Dumbarton sought to stay on level terms while waiting to hear if results involving Stenhousemuir and Alloa would go their way.

Some minutes after the final whistle, confirmation arrived that Sons would indeed escape the relegation play-offs as a result of their efforts in claiming a 1-1 draw. Both sets of fans stayed behind to celebrate, with Livingston being awarded the Division Two trophy.

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