Airdrieonians 1 - 4 Dumbarton

League - Promotion Play-Off Final 2nd Leg
Sunday, May 20th, 2012, 4:05 PM at Excelsior Stadium
Attendance: 2,914
Referee: Alan Muir
Airdrieonians v Dumbarton, May 20th 2012, Excelsior Stadium
Airdrieonians Dumbarton 

Goalscorers
Derek Holmes (35) Craig Dargo (9)
Craig Dargo (21)
Mark Gilhaney (45)
Tony Wallace (65)

Team Managers
Jimmy Boyle Alan Adamson

Starting Eleven
Grant Adam
Ewan McNeil
Keiran Stallard
David Lilley
Paul Lovering
Jamie Stevenson
Sean Lynch
Nathan Blockley
Willie McLaren
Derek Holmes
Ryan Donnelly
Stephen Grindlay
Martin McNiff
Ryan Finnie
Tony Wallace
Alan Lithgow
James Creaney
Kevin Nicoll
Mark Gilhaney
Scott Agnew
Craig Dargo
Bryan Prunty

Bench
Andrew Duncan
Scott Morton
Ricki Lamie
John Boyle
Jamie Bain
Jamie Ewings
Dominic Kennedy
Mark Lamont
Ally Graham
Pat Walker

Substitutions
Ricki Lamie for Keiran Stallard (32)
John Boyle for Sean Lynch (56)
Jamie Bain for Ryan Donnelly (56)
Pat Walker for Craig Dargo (61)
Mark Lamont for Mark Gilhaney (63)
Ally Graham for Bryan Prunty (83)

Bookings
Willie McLaren
Paul Lovering
Craig Dargo (22)
Tony Wallace (23)
Mark Gilhaney (45)
Kevin Nicoll (55)
Pat Walker (77)

Red Cards
Jamie Bain (80) None.

Appearances & Goals To Date
Stephen Grindlay (GK) 255 apps -
Tony Wallace 35 apps3 goals
Alan Lithgow 40 apps4 goals
James Creaney 63 apps -
Martin McNiff 82 apps3 goals
Ryan Finnie 15 apps -
Scott Agnew 42 apps13 goals
Kevin Nicoll 34 apps1 goal
Mark Gilhaney 71 apps18 goals
Craig Dargo 12 apps7 goals
Bryan Prunty 41 apps17 goals
Mark Lamont (sub) 13 apps -
Pat Walker (sub) 67 apps13 goals
Ally Graham (sub) 20 apps2 goals

Starting Lineup
Youngest Player:Ryan Finnie (17 years 95 days)
Oldest Player:Craig Dargo (34 years 146 days)
Average Player Age:25 years 147 days
Domestic Players:11 (100.00 % of starting eleven)

Matchday Squad
Youngest Player:Ryan Finnie (17 years 95 days)
Oldest Player:Craig Dargo (34 years 146 days)
Average Player Age:24 years 215 days
Domestic Players:16 (100.00 % of matchday squad)

First Team Debuts

Milestones

IN a fitting denouement to an extraordinary season, Dumbarton turned on the style with a convincing 4-1 win against Airdrie United at New Broomfield.

The 6-2 aggregate win in the Irn Bru SFL First Division Play-off Final secured the Sons a place in second tier of Scottish football for season 2012/13.

When the men from the Rock visited the Excelsior Stadium for the first game of the 2011/12 league campaign on 6 August 2011, the outcome was a desperately disappointing 3-0 defeat, followed rapidly by a 5-1 hammering at home against Stirling Albion.

The reversal of fortunes and the huge leap forward for Dumbarton that has taken place in the intervening ten months was there for all to see in this final encounter between the Sons and the Diamonds.

Dumbarton came out of the starting blocks determined to build on the 2-1 first leg lead secured at the Rock on Wednesday 16 May. Airdrie United, too, appeared fired up for a special occasion.

After some immediate pressure from the home side, Sons pushed back. Craig Dargo shot enthusiastically but somewhat wildly over the crossbar in the visitors' first attempt on goal.

Bryan Prunty combined with Dargo in another rapid raid, but the ball was run out by United's back line.

Then Jamie Stevenson, who had been threatening for Airdrie United in the first match, put in a long, low shot from the right hand side of the field. Sons 'keeper Stephen Grindlay judged the situation well, allowing the ball to go comfortably wide.

On 9 minutes Dumbarton found themselves in front, on what was to prove a magical afternoon.

Scott Agnew's cross was perfectly controlled and struck by Craig Dargo, whose measured chip beat oncoming goalie Grant Adam and evaded a final defending lunge.

Airdrie United were clearly not prepared to roll over and pressed back. But Sons remained solid and organised in the final third marking tightly, closing down quickly and tackling firmly.

Eleven minutes later Dargo burst through the Diamonds' defence and made it 2-0. The large, vocal away support was in dreamland. Once again it was a well-taken goal, driven into the lower left-hand corner of the net.

The home side responded quickly, but could not find a finish. Willie McLaren grasped at one of two slender chances for the Diamonds, both going wide. There was also a half-hearted penalty claim for a quite legitimate block by a Sons' defender.

Just after the half hour it looked as if Dumbarton might go three ahead on the afternoon. Dargo robbed an opponent, checked in a central position, turned, and set up Mark Gilhaney. But the No. 6 could not quite control the ball quickly enough to get a decisive shot in.

It was Dargo, once again, who took a 32-yard punt minutes later, as Sons enjoyed their superiority, moving the ball speedily from the middle of the park to the front.

At the other end, 'keeper Stephen Grindlay made a fantastic stop from McLaren. Stevenson followed up, but fired wide.

Then just as Dumbarton began to look unassailable, Airdrie United struck back. In the midst of a goalmouth scramble, Derek Holmes forced home McLaren's assist to make it 2-1 on 35 minutes.

Sons did not relent and remained organised and measured on the ball, with Finnie turning several Diamonds attacks into opportunities to push back.

A confident switch across the park set Tony Wallace off on a good run, but the ball was run out for a goal kick.

On 40 minutes Scott Agnew made a great run through the centre, setting up Wallace, who was denied at the last minute by a lunging tackle and a boot into touch.

A decisive moment in the game came when the Diamonds were awarded a free kick in a central and dangerous position on 45 minutes, some 20 yards out. But McLaren squandered the chance, firing the ball into Sons' wall.

Then on 47 minutes Mark Gilhaney's efforts were finally rewarded. This time Wallace was the provider, weaving through close to the goal-line, and Gils made no mistake with a well-timed finish to give Dumbarton a commanding 3-1 lead.

In the second half, Airdrie United needed to push forward, but risked leaving themselves even more vulnerable at the back.

Nevertheless, the Diamonds continued to threaten, while Alan Lithgow and Kevin Nicoll continued to boss the game from the back and drive Sons forward again, with James Creaney looking to make overlapping runs.

The ever popular Pat Walker replaced double goal hero Craig Dargo on 61 minutes and was soon in on the action.

He surged through the Airdrie United defence, looking set to score, but showed just a fraction too much of the ball to his opponent.

Bryan Prunty also had a couple of chances, and Grindlay made another excellent save as the Diamonds' front line desperately sought recompense for a frustrating afternoon in which McLaren and Paul Lovering also received cautions from referee Alan Muir.

On 65 minutes Wallace's endeavours paid off when he nimbly converted Prunty's pass to give Dumbarton a 4-1 lead and effectively clinch the match and the final.

The party began in earnest on the terraces, and at one point Walker had to help neutralise a yellow flare thrown over-exuberantly onto the pitch.

There was still a job to be done for Sons, however: controlling the game in the centre of the park, ensuring no more damage was sustained and looking for opportunities further to exploit opportunities up front.

There was no further scoring, but the misery continued for Airdrie United when Jamie Bain collected a red card, perhaps a tad harshly, for an undoubtedly rash challenge on Creaney.

The day clearly belonged to Dumbarton, though. After the final whistle the celebrations on the pitch lasted a good 15 minutes as Alan Adamson's men wrote another page in Dumbarton's illustrious history by securing promotion to the First Division.

It was an outcome that no one would have predicted at the beginning of a long, tough campaign; but it was thoroughly deserved in the end.

Match report by Simon Barrow

Programme cover / Team sheet