Fixture: Dumbarton Riverside FC 1-0 Dunbar United Colts
Competition: Scottish Youth FA Cup, Round 3
On a desperately unlucky Saturday afternoon for the visitors, Dunbar United Colts travelled to face Dumbarton Riverside FC in the third round of the Scottish Youth FA Cup, going down to a narrow 1-0 victory in difficult conditions.
After accumulating 22 goals in their opening two rounds, the Dunbar team arrived confident that progress would be made, although that was dampened as they arrived to a very narrow pitch that was almost unplayable in places due to heavy overnight rain. The warm-up saw the pitch already beginning to cut up which would do this young Dunbar outfit no favours with their slick passing game.
The referee finally arrived and the match kicked off a few minutes late of the scheduled 13:30 kick off. From the start, conditions looked tricky for the players, with Knox, Renton, Cooper and Dixon all resembling Bambi on ice as the underfoot conditions looked to thwart any creativity. Nerves also looked to be playing a part as the normally reliable distributors Hall, Smillie and Kielty struggled to pick out a Dunbar jersey. Ford down the right also found the sloping pitch difficult to adapt to as he found the side-lines more than his intended target down the right.
The first real effort at goal was from the home side, but the long range effort found the safe hands of Purves who reached up and grabbed the ball. Dunbar’s first effort was a Kielty free-kick as the fussy referee blew for a foul within Kielty territory, which can be anywhere up to 40 yards from goal. Unfortunately, the free kick was fired over the bar.
Dunbar were struggling to string a few passes together with the threat of Renton and Cooper looking well nullified by the conditions and two good full-backs. Smillie and Kielty were strong in the tackle but over anxious in distributing and possession was lost.
Dunbar were looking more in control and are notorious slow starters so the supporters who travelled close on 100 miles to support the players still looked relaxed. The first sight of Dunbar’s passing game saw Pickles and Hood build from the back – a ball down the channel from Hood saw Knox race onto and collect. His excellent squared ball into the middle saw Dixon shoot narrowly wide of the goal as the game saw the first piece of real quality. The pitch was quite short in length as well as narrow and Dumbarton were keen on exposing Pickles and Hall with long balls over the top which Purves was alert to.
The final ball was still lacking and Dunbar made early changes to spark some life into the team. Twist came on to introduce energy into the midfield.
The change did see Dunbar enjoy a bit of possession but generally in areas away from goal as Ford, Kielty, Twist and Cooper tried to link down the right.
To those who have watched Dunbar this season, it did look as though the opening goal would see the floodgates open, but the home side were very much up for the match. They were defensively well-organised and strong in the tackle.
As half time approached, Knox again injected some pace into the game. His run down the left saw him escape his marker. He continued his run towards goal and a well struck shot went wide when it looked for a second as if it had sneaked in at the near post.
HT: Dumbarton Riverside 0-0 Dunbar Utd Colts
Within minutes of the second half kicking off, Cooper was forced from the field with a niggling hamstring strain. Foggo was introduced down the right as Renton resumed duties down the left.
Dumbarton enjoyed a bit more possession in the second half and, having reduced the power on the long ball, Ford, Pickles, Hall and Hood were forced into action defensively.
Conditions underfoot were still restricting the quantity of chances being created, as the ball was sticking in the midfield trenches.
Hood down the left was forcing the play more and he was trying his hardest to create openings as he linked with the recently introduced Mclean. Indeed, Mclean seemed to find the conditions more suited to his game as he looked comfortable with the ball at his feet.
Dunbar then saw their luck summed up as Hood found himself in space on the edge of the box. From a corner that was not cleared, he collected on his left, turned the defender before firing in with his weaker right foot. The ball beat the goalkeeper, before hitting the inside of the post. The ball ran along the goal line before the home defence cleared.
Kinghorn came on and he too looked in good touch for the visitors despite the lack of space. However, Dumbarton were creating more chances and the first clear opportunity should have served as a warning to the visitors. The Riverside striker was played in on goal and his shot was brilliantly saved by Purves who kept his side in the tie.
Still Dunbar created pressure, although shots at goal were at a premium. They forced enough pressure to win corners and the delivery from Foggo was perfect – on more than one occasion he curled it in to land on the edge of the 6 yard line, absolutely demanding a match winner to step forward. Dunbar looked to get in the way of each other a few times at corners although one corner just beat the head of Hood who did enough to put off Knox who could only nod it wide with the goal at his mercy.
Sure enough, the next move from Dumbarton saw a replay of their previous attack. The ball was similar, the timing of the run the same but on this occasion the finish was precise as the Dumbarton striker finished well into the corner of the net, sparking scenes of celebration.
Dunbar looked rattled. In a game where they looked as if they played well within themselves but always likely to step up a gear, time was now against them. Sure enough, frustration was beginning to tell as a poor challenge from Knox saw the Dumbarton player unhappy with the challenge. Knox was equally unhappy with the attention from the Riverside player and the referee stepped in to book the Dunbar Captain.
With time running out Dunbar tried to force things and went 3 at the back but the Riverside team defended for their lives. Kinghorn was left with the final chance for the visitors but his effort from the left of the area was fired wide. The final whistle saw the home team celebrate their biggest win of the season and take their place in the next round of the competition. Best for Dunbar on a day which saw several high quality players dress up for Halloween as average ones was Hood, whose shot alone warranted a result in his favour.
FT Dumbarton Riverside FC 1-0 Dunbar Utd Colts
The Dunbar team are in a run of very tricky fixtures just now and next week sees them battle it out with local rivals and table-topping North Berwick for a place in the quarter-finals of the region's premier competition, the appropriately named South East Region Cup.