Dumbarton withstood a second-half bombardment by Arbroath to secure their place in the Championship play-off final against Alloa.
It was a tense afternoon for the home side whose manager Stephen Aitken said: “It’s a big relief because I thought Arbroath were the better side and had more energy than us. I have to give credit to my team because they dug deep and have done so many times this year.
“I’m delighted for the players that their Championship status is still intact.
“I’m not surprised that Alloa have won because Raith effectively lost the league title on the last day and it’s difficult to pick the players up. Alloa are a good side – they have lots of players that I know and it will be a difficult game.”
The Sons led 2-1 after Craig Barr’s injury-time winner on Wednesday night and they doubled their aggregate advantage when Dougie Hill, pictured, opened the scoring after only nine minutes. After David Hutton had tipped over a looping Andy Stirling shot, Hill met Tom Walsh’s corner to bullet a header into the net.
Dumbarton continued to dominate but wasted numerous chances to finish the tie as a contest. Iain Russell dwelled too long before his shot was blocked while Stirling wasted a golden opportunity, firing wildly over the bar.
Arbroath started to push men forward in a bid to salvage their promotion hopes and were rewarded when talisman Gavin Swankie levelled thanks to a gift from Andy Dowie, who attempted to cushion a header back to goalkeeper Scott Gallacher but he failed to connect properly and Swankie managed to prod home.
The Lichties were in the ascendancy following their equaliser and Bobby Linn drew a fine low stop from Gallacher before captain Mark Whatley fizzed a shot narrowly over the bar from 25 yards just before the interval.
Dumbarton sat deep in the second period as Arbroath piled forward. Gallacher made several fine stops including a pair to keep out low efforts by Ryan Wallace.
Arbroath tried valiantly to force the game into extra time, Gallacher making another sprawling save to deny Wallace once more before Thomas O’Brien’s looping header agonisingly struck the bar as the Gayfield team’s promotion hopes were dashed.
Visiting boss Dick Campbell said: “Games are about 180 minutes and I think that goal in the 96th minute on Wednesday night was what won the tie.
“I thought we were the best team. We lacked a bit of quality in the final third but if we are 73 per cent possession away from home, that shows how good we were.”