After another weekend of frosty pitches had halted our Groundhopping journey we were back on the road again for the short journey down the M8 to Dumbarton for their match against Brechin. The home side sat comfortably in mid-table division 2 but were in something of a slump having lost their previous three games. Their opponents Brechin were still hanging to hopes of a play-off place come the end of the season. Dumbarton had been promoted the previous season with an impressive late run to gain promotion but then suffered a dreadful tragedy when club captain Gordon Lennon died during the summer break.
Their ground, The Strathclyde Homes Stadium (or The Rock to their supporters), was built in 2000 and consists of just one standard build stand, similar to that at St Mirren and East Fife. Unlike the Fifers however the stadium is in a far more picturesque setting with it situated at the very foot of Dumbarton Rock and views of the river winding its way past the town itself. After the customary photo at the main entrance we took our place amongst the Sons armed with a piping hot pie and Bovril.
After an initial shaky first five minutes the home team settled into the game and began to play with some pace and purpose. Most of their joy seemed to come down the left side with Stevie Murray impressing, just as he had done at Bayview some weeks ago. However it became increasingly apparent that Dumbartons final ball was a big weakness and so despite finding themselves in useful attacking positions they could never fully capitalise. The best opportunity fell to Derek Carcary when he beat the offside trap but his lob over the out rushing Craig Nelson looped beyond him and the goals. To be fair the home side werent helped with a very dubious refereeing decision when Carcary seemed to be felled in the box only for the official to wave play on. The incensed fans vented their anger as the teams departed at a goalless half time.
Brechin came out with a bit more intent in the second half and 12 minutes in found themselves one goal to the good. Rory McAllisters powerful free-kick at the edge of the box was well parried by goalkeeper Michael White but with his defence static Kevin Byers nipped in and prodded the ball somewhat unconvincingly in. Bizarrely, Sons manager Jim Chapman let rip a ferocious verbal volley at his keeper when it was really his dozing defence who shouldve bore the brunt of his anger. Dumbartons best chance to level fell to the experienced Dennis Wyness but his free header from 4 yards out fell tamely into the goalkeepers arms.
The game petered out from then on with Dumbarton claiming the dubious honour of having most Gerrards this season, an astonishing 8 balls disappearing out the ground in the second period alone. They did put some pressure on Brechin in the closing stages but Roddy Hunter nodded wide at the death and with that they faced the fourth defeat in succession whilst Brechin kept their promotion dreams alive.
Journey - 5
Pie - 8
Bovril - 8
Ground - 5