Dumbarton 0 - 1 Dunfermline: Sons rocked by early goal but make Pars work to earn victory

Dumbartons Chris Turner tussles with Dunfermline forward Ryan Wallace. Picture: SNS

Dumbartons Chris Turner tussles with Dunfermline forward Ryan Wallace. Picture: SNS

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Dunfermline swept back to the top of the First Division yesterday with a win over a luckless Dumbarton. A first-minute goal by Andy Barrowman proved to be the clincher which means the Fifers are top on goal difference, although level on points with Morton, while Partick Thistle are two points back but have two games in hand.

With the swirling wind whipping off the confluence of the Rivers Leven and Clyde, and the heavy clouds threatening rain which duly arrived to drench the second half, the greyness of the conditions was dispelled by the floodlights and, it should be said, some entertaining football.

Quality play was in evidence from both sides at times, although the error count was far too great to make this a top-drawer match. Still, Aberdeen and former Scotland manager Craig Brown was not the only one who sat in the stand engrossed throughout a match full of sterling effort and end-to-end play in an open game – and no, Brown would not be drawn on who he was scouting.

Dumbarton, seeking a hat-trick of wins under new manager Ian Murray, were unchanged from the side which shocked promotion-seeking Morton at Greenock. Dunfermline manager Jim Jeffries brought back captain Jordan McMillan, Andy Barrowman and Alex Whittle for Joe Cardle and the benched Ryan Thomson and Andy Kirk.

The match was just 50 seconds old when Dunfermline took the lead, Whittle’s low cross from the left wing bobbing through the defence to Barrowman lurking at the far post, who turned the ball in.

With that goal disadvantage and looking at their respective positions in the league, neutral observers might have concluded that bottom side Dumbarton were in for a drubbing. But the Sons are a changed outfit under Murray and gave as good as they got for the rest of the 90 minutes, even if the visitors gained the more serious opportunities to score.

Garry Fleming was gifted a chance to equalise within seconds, the visitors’ defence sleeping while he broke into space only to shoot tamely at goalkeeper Paul Gallacher. Fleming then set up 
Steven McDougall, whose low shot was blocked bodily by McMillan, who never looked entirely comfortable after that and was replaced at half-time by Thomson.

Dumbarton’s top goalscorer, the tireless Jim Lister, had his 20-yard shot after nine minutes superbly saved by Gallacher, who just reached the ball low to turn it on to his right goalpost.

At the other end, Josh Falkingham’s cross was missed by inches by Barrowman and Whittle returned the loose ball with interest to Shaun Byrne, whose goalbound curling shot was saved quite magnificently by the high-leaping Jamie Ewings.

Fleming’s airshot as he looked set to score and Mark Gilhaney’s very narrow failure to connect with a McDougall cross came either side of Ewings’ brave save at the feet of Ryan Wallace.

Dumbarton’s two best players, Scott Agnew and Lister, combined to allow the latter a header that looped off Callum Morris’s back and ended up just over the bar.

The second half proved slightly less entertaining in the pouring rain, with Dunfermline dominating the early exchanges. Andy Geggan sent in a long-range effort after 66 minutes but his shot went just wide before Wallace also broke clear only to be foiled by Ewings diving full length to save his shot.

Barrowman should have done much better than sclaff his 76th-minute shot wide after good work by Wallace. Dumbarton’s best effort was an Agnew free kick from nearly 30 yards that dipped over the bar.

The Sons tried mightily for an equaliser but, in truth, created few chances late on, while Byrne took one for the team in the closing minutes when he was booked for hauling down Lister just as the Dumbarton man looked ready to run clear, Lister himself being booked for his robust response to the foul.

Dumbarton manager Murray thus lost his unbeaten record in the league but rightly pointed to the changed days for the Sons of the Rock. He said: “It was disappointing to lose the early goal, but that’s two wins and a battling performance in the league and earlier in the season clubs were coming here and winning easily.”

Asked about Dunfermline’s recent financial problems which saw late payments to players, their manager Jim Jefferies said: “That is another reason why the players deserve immense credit. They put it to one side and played their part. It would nice to think the club could play its part and make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Dumbarton: Ewings, Devlin, Forsyth, Graham, Lithgow, Turner, Gilhaney, Agnew, Lister, Fleming (McCusker 62), McDougall (Prunty 73). Subs not used: Nicoll, Smith, Grindlay.

Dunfermline: Gallacher, McMillan (Thomson 46), Jordan, Dowie, Morris, Geggan, Whittle (Dargo 85), Byrne, Barrowman, Wallace, Falkingham. Subs not used: Kirk, Potter, Hrivnak.

Referee: I Brines. Attendance: 1,043.


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