Threadbare Dumbarton side rescue a point at the death

ON the face of it, Saturday’s draw may seem like two more home points dropped by Dumbarton – in a league that they are expected to be challenging for.

One week after a John Baird double saw Forfar leave the C&G Systems Stadium with all three points, Arbroath left with one and came within a whisker of leaving with all three.

In truth it was well-earned point from a threadbare squad against a side that had won emphatically their first two league matches of the season.

For a start, manager Stevie Aitken was missing his first- and second-choice right-backs, meaning that midfielder Ryan Thomson was asked to play in an unfamiliar role.

Added to that, central defender Craig Barr, who has been playing through injury for the last couple of matches, was forced off with 10 minutes remaining. This meant the introduction of Andy Little at centre-half, himself playing against medical advice, though he finished the match in attack as Dumbarton pressed for their equaliser.

Then there are those such as Rory Loy who missed pre-season and who will need a few more weeks to get fully up to speed.

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Dumbarton started the match with just two fit subs, and if the injuries continue to pile up, quipped Aitken, he may have to dust off his own boots.

With the promising Cammy Ballantyne and back-up Ross Perry both not fit to play, it was up to Thomson to fill in on the right side of defence.

He was given a torrid time by Bobby Linn during spells, not helped by a relatively early booking he picked up for a foul on the wide man. And it was Linn who opened the scoring – forced inside when Thomson should have shown him down the line.

While the goal was hardly a sucker punch, Dumbarton had started the match well. They had a goal chopped off for offside and tested Darren Jamieson on a few occasions.

To their credit, after going behind and being under the cosh for large parts, Aitken's side continued to try to play football, were a constant threat at set-pieces, and were eventually rewarded for their persistence.

On two occasions a sloppy pass from Kyle Hutton saw the away side break – just two of a number of chances that Arbroath should have capitalised on and put the game to bed. Dick Campbell’s side also felt aggrieved they were not awarded a penalty when Willie Dyer appeared to deliberately impede Omar Kader when he was through on goal.

In the end it was one of the two fit subs that came to the rescue. Ross Forbes is another recent recruit who appears to be a smart piece of business by Aitken. He was outstanding in the opening-day victory over East Fife and could have hat a hat-trick of assists that day had Michael Paton converted his effort rather than striking the post.

Forbes has now started the last two matches on the bench and his introduction on Saturday gave Dumbarton the bit of quality they needed to rescue a point.

Aitken had described the previous week’s defeat as a badly needed “wake-up call” and described the performance as “night and day from the Forfar game”.

Whether or not Dumbarton are able to stretch their budget to one or more signings, especially in defensive areas, remains to be seen. If they can, and get more of their current squad back to full fitness, after a mixed start to the season, they should be up there challenging for a promotion spot come towards its end.

Cowdenbeath's Sheerin continues scoring streak

COWDENBEATH striker Jordyn Sheerin scored his seventh goal of the campaign at the weekend, his third in the last three games. Before Saturday’s win, the 29-year-old had netted six of his side’s seven goals so far this season.

The 4-0 victory was the Blue Brazil’s first league win in three attempts and their first by that margin since 2014.

After two horrendous seasons for the club, in which they have twice survived via the League Two play-off, a decent showing in the Betfred Cup – along with astute recruitment – suggested that Cowdenbeath could be dark horses for the title this time around. 

However, defeats to Clyde and Annan in their first two league matches, along with defeat to East Fife in the Irn Bru Cup, dispelled the early season optimism somewhat.

Bringing the likes of Jason Talbot, David Cox and Jimmy Scott to the club – along with retaining Sheerin on a permanent deal – means that Gary Bollan’s side will no longer be a soft touch, though they will need to guard against that becoming a disciplinary issue. 

The National:

Kyle Miller’s red card for throwing a punch on Saturday was their second of the season already, while Cowdenbeath have more yellow cards than any of the other 41 clubs in the SPFL.

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Worryingly for Bollan, Sheerin picked up an injury in Saturday’s win and there is as yet no word on how serious it is. He will be hoping that his striker doesn’t spend too much time, if any, on the sidelines as his goals and hold up play, both severely lacking form before his arrival, will be a vital part to any success they do have. 

In the build-up to Saturday’s match, Bollan said that his side needed to stop giving away cheap goals and, after conceding 12 goals in their four previous fixtures, will be as happy with the clean sheet as much as he is with the four goals.