Mar 23 2012 by Andy Galloway, Lennox Herald (main ed)
East Fife 4
Irn Bru Scottish Football League Second Division
THE two golden rules of winning a football match – take chances and defend well.
Rules which Dumbarton stuck to rigorously during the recent 10-match unbeaten run.
But not on Saturday against East Fife, whose goal blitz included a double from Ryan Wallace, a Stephen Grindlay own goal and a Scott Dalziel strike.
It’s actually bewildering to think Sons ended up with no goals after the number of chances they created.
Their midfield play was every bit as competitive as the Fifers, but time after time it ended either with inspired goalkeeping or wasteful finishing.
And the less said about the defence the better.
Had East Fife’s goals required a degree of hard work on their part, there would be some mitigation.
However, they were served up to the visitors on a plate. In fairness, the back four were missing one regular player while another was out of position.
There is, though, no excuse for the mistakes which allowed the Fifers to score. The match really could have ended up with a silly scoreline, such were the number of opportunities for both sides.
But East Fife took their chances and Sons didn’t. They at least had some defensive organisation and Sons didn’t and that was the difference.
Dumbarton boss Alan Adamson nailed it with his assertion that any thoughts of a top-four place already being certain are wide of the mark.
Anybody who has watched Sons since the start of 2012 knows what they can do – but it has to return, and fast, to secure any chance of promotion.
They were up against it after only four minutes with the first of the gifted goals.
Wallace is a quality player who should never be playing at this level – but isn’t the most physical presence.
But he fought his way through the defence to get a free header from a corner, which ended up in the net. A minute later Craig Dargo had a shot turned wide – with a goal kick given.
Wallace had two chance to extend East Fife’s lead, while Scott Agnew had a 20-yard free kick turned over.
From the resulting corner came a chance that should have resulted in the equaliser – but incredibly didn’t. Bizarrely, keeper Michael Brown dropped the ball at the feet of Dargo on the edge of the area, but the striker could only shoot straight at him.
And it wasn’t hard to guess what would happen next – twice.
The Fifers went straight up the pitch and from another corner, Grindlay fumbled the ball into his own net.
Then a minute later, Wallace beat the offside to latch onto a through ball and finish.
A game which should have been 1-1 was instead 3-0 to the visitors.
Dargo, Agnew and Pat Walker all had chances, but when all of them missed the target it was clear Sons’ luck was out. This was all within the first half hour, too.
The defence continued to flounder, with Dalziel and Bobby Linn having chances deflected off target.
The teams came out for the second half with the next goal looking crucial if Sons were to have any chance.
That optimism lasted all of six minutes as the defence was again caught square from a through ball, with Dalziel benefiting this time from Wallace’s assist.
Still the chances kept coming. Dargo had a shot off the post while Walker’s header from Agnew’s ball was saved.
Then the ball was in the net courtesy of Walker with 20 minutes left – only for an offside flag to deny him a goal. Bryan Prunty had an effort which went over and then came what was almost the final insult in terms of luck. A corner found its way to the unknowing Dargo almost on the goal line – but his finish was over.
East Fife had further chances, but Paul McQuade and Wallace shot wide when they could have done better.
But they needn’t have worried. They were the team that had all the luck on the day – they also had the finishing prowess and better, if by no means perfect, defensive work.
Those are things that Sons had not so long ago – and still do. They need to be rediscovered.
Dumbarton: Grindlay; Nugent, McNiff, Wallace (Kennedy 54), Lithgow, Gilhaney, Gray (Graham 54), Nicoll, Walker (Prunty 76), Agnew, Dargo. Subs: Lyden, Gastal.
Booked: Nugent (42, foul).
Ref: Charlie Richmond. Att: 713
Rock Star points: 3pts Gilhaney, 2pts Agnew, 1pt Walker