DUMBARTON manager Alan Adamson last night toasted his side after they ended a 17-year wait to return to the First Division with a convincing win against Airdrie.
Adamson said: “I couldn’t have asked for any more from the players. Last season was all about staying in the Second Division and to get promotion this season is an incredible feeling. We struggled a bit at the start of the season but have got stronger all the time.”
The Sons made a dream start on nine minutes when Craig Dargo ran onto Scott Agnew’s pass and spotted Diamonds keeper Grant Adam off his line. The experienced striker went for the lob and it flew into the net despite the attempts of Airdrie defenders backtracking towards the goal-line.
Dargo doubled Dumbarton’s lead on 21 minutes when he pounced on Nathan Blockley’s deflected clearance and side-footed the ball beyond Adam.
Dumbarton’s Stephen Grindlay denied Sean Lynch with a parrying save from his eight-yard shot following Jamie Stevenson’s cutback. But Airdrie did grab a lifeline when Derek Holmes shot through a ruck of players on 35 minutes after the Sons failed to clear Jamie Stevenson’s corner.
Hopes of a comeback were quickly snuffed out when Mark Gilhaney slotted home following a determined run and cross from Tony Wallace.
Now 5-2 down on aggregate, Airdrie went close on 55 minutes with Blockley heading wide from a good position from Stevenson’s cross.
However Wallace put the outcome beyond doubt when he converted Bryan Prunty’s pass on 66 minutes to make it 4-1 and 6-2 on aggregate.
Manager Jimmy Boyle threw on John Boyle and Jamie Bain for Lynch and Ryan Donnelly in an attempt to get back into the game.
Bain crossed for Boyle on 72 minutes but Grindlay saved superbly with his feet from the 15-yard shot.
But Dumbarton were always threatening with pace and sharp passing, and could have scored more, with Prunty and Pat Walker going close.
Airdrie’s day got even worse nine minutes from time when Bain was shown a straight red card for a late challenge.
Adamson reserved special praise for Dargo, who played despite suffering from a hamstring injury. “He was 75 per cent at best but I thought it was worth the risk because of his experience and goal threat,” the manager said.
Airdrie manager Jimmy Boyle said: “I can only apologise to our supporters. To go down so badly in such an important game is extremely disappointing.”
Airdrie Utd: Adam; McNeil, Lovering, Stallard (Lamie 33), Lilley, Lynch (Boyle 56), Stevenson, Blockley, Holmes, Donnelly (Bain 56), McLaren. Subs not used: Morton, Duncan.
Dumbarton: Grindlay; Finnie, Creaney, Lithgow, McNiff, Gilhaney (Lamont 64), Wallace, Nicoll, Prunty (Graham 84), Agnew, Dargo (Walker 61). Subs not used: Kennedy, Ewings.
Referee: A Muir.