St Mirren 1 - 0 Dumbarton: Alex Rae resurgence continues

HAVING not taken three points in Paisley since the tail-end of last season, St Mirren have now won three home games in a row as they grind their way towards Championship safety and mid-table rebuilding.

St Mirren scorer Lawrence Shankland, right, celebrates with Jack Baird. Picture: SNS
St Mirren scorer Lawrence Shankland, right, celebrates with Jack Baird. Picture: SNS

Dumbarton would, in contrast, ­relish being in such a nothing ­position, with themselves and ­Livingston surely battling it out to avoid a ­relegation play-off.

That there has been improvement since Alex Rae took over from Ian Murray just before Christmas is beyond dispute, although it would have been harder to get much worse.

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Despite the upturn in results there is however a long road to travel for the Buddies, as while replacing wholly convincing home losses with utterly unconvincing home wins looks and reads better, they still look light years away from a team able to even contemplate earnestly getting amongst the promotion issue.

Rae conceded it was an encounter low on quality, but heaped praise on the work-rate of his team. He said: “It wasn’t a great spectacle, however I cannot ask for more from my players in terms of effort.

“We won with the little bit of quality on show. It was a brilliant goal, good link-up play and a great finish.”

However, Dumbarton boss Steven Aitken felt his injury-hit strugglers were worth a share of the points.

He said: “We more than matched them and certainly didn’t deserve to lose. Losing is disappointing as we came here and our game plan worked for long spells, but it is an unforgiving league.”

Against a Dumbarton team playing without a recognised striker the home team did have the better chances in a laborious opening half.

But had the visitors offered more incision beyond some impressive solo forays from on-loan Rangers winger Tom Walsh it could have been a different story.

St Mirren’s Kyle McAllister wasted the best of the openings when he fired into the side-netting and Lawrence Shankland was unfortunate to see the boot of Mark Brown repel his close-range effort, with only a Frazer Wright header troubling Jamie Langfield in the Buddies’ goal.

One goal always looked likely to win what was a fairly insipid encounter, and the decisive strike arrived just after the hour.

David Clarkson linked up with Shankland, with the Scotland Under-21 striker producing a thumping finish from a tightening angle to round off the game’s one flash of quality.

Clarkson should have doubled the lead soon after but slashed wildly over even though he had time to take a touch.

Dumbarton worked hard, but never convinced they could dig out a leveller, with only a Walsh drive coming anywhere near bringing about a share of the spoils.