Stirling Albion 0-0 Dumbarton - Sons secure spot in League One playoff final

Stirling Albion 0(1)-0(2) Dumbarton (11 May 2024, League One Playoffs): Sons' Finlay Gray is clattered by a defender.
Sons' Finlay Gray is clattered by a defender. -Credit:Lennox Herald

Boss Stevie Farrell stressed that his Sons have achieved nothing yet, as they booked a spot in the League One playoff final.

After seeing off Stirling Albion, Dumbarton face Spartans tonight (Tuesday) in the first leg in the battle for promotion to League One - before making the return journey to the capital on Friday evening.

And whilst delighted with his side, Faz insisted there is no time for any celebrations just for making the final.

“Football is a cruel game. They can’t take any plaudits for today. There’s still plenty of work to be done. We stay sombre, professional and fully focused on Tuesday”, he said.

“It was always going to be tense. We deserved our win on Tuesday night, but we knew Stirling would be fighting for their lives and would throw everything at us.

“In the first-half I thought we were the better side and were unlucky not to be in front.

“In the second-half they went for it with just two at the back. We knew they’d have a spell and I reminded the boys at half-time of how many clean sheets we’ve had this year.

“Defensively we knew we could deal with the onslaught. And we were excellent. All of the players left everything out there.”

Dumbarton 2-1 Stirling Albion (SPFL League One playoffs, 7 May 2024): Jinky Hilton celebrates opening the scoring
After netting midweek, injury ruled out Jinky Hilton. -Credit:Lennox Herald

Farrell was forced into one change from the side which had triumphed 2-1 in the first leg, with a hamstring niggle ruling out Jinky Hilton - and David Wilson taking his place.

The switch looked to have little impact on Sons play however, as they started on the front foot against a nervy looking Binos side who knew their League One status was hanging by a thread.

Tony Wallace was first to threaten, but his hooked volley from the edge of the box missed the target.

A clever short corner routine then found the onrushing Gallagher Lennon, but his goalbound effort was blocked by a collection of red shirts.

David Wilson’s cute pass then sent Michael Ruth clear, and the forward cut inside before hammering an effort over the bar.

A Sons breakthrough felt like only a matter of time, with Finlay Gray charging from well inside his own half - before taking one touch too many on the edge of the area, allowing the danger to be cleared with Ruth perfectly placed for a pass.

Stirling Albion 0(1)-0(2) Dumbarton (11 May 2024, League One Playoffs): Stevie Farrell and Frank McKeown watch on from the Sons bench.
Stevie Farrell and Frank McKeown watch on from the Sons bench. -Credit:Lennox Herald

That looked to wake-up the hosts, who reminded Sons of their threat after 21 minutes - as they passed up a golden chance to take the lead.

A corner caused mayhem in the Dumbarton box with Dale Carrick’s mis-hit shot falling perfectly for Kyle Banner six yards out - but he air-kicked the ball and the chance was gone.

At that point Stirling were dealt a blow as winger Josh McPake - who had been the biggest threat midweek pulled up with an injury, and he was replaced by Kieran Offord.

As the Binos adapted to their new shape, Sons responded, with Kalvin Orsi’s cross flicked towards Ruth by David Wilson - but the former Aberdeen man saw his low shot hooked off the line by Callum Crane.

At the other end, Crane then tried his luck from range, but looped a volley narrowly wide.

Another surging run from Gray then saw him shoot straight at Binos keeper Mark Weir, before the chance the visitors had been waiting for came and went.

Tireless running from Michael Ruth saw him chase a lost cause and cross for David Wilson - but the ex-Bino missed the target from point blank range with the goal at his mercy.

It looked like that could prove a costly miss, as the home side started the second-half with a new shape that brought fresh intensity.

Just three minutes after the whistle a sharp move down the left opened up space for Rudi Molitnikov, but he cracked the outside of the post with his effort.

Stirling Albion 0(1)-0(2) Dumbarton (11 May 2024, League One Playoffs): Kalvin Orsi went close late on, but was denied by keeper Mark Weir.
Kalvin Orsi went close late on, but was denied by keeper Mark Weir. -Credit:Lennox Herald

Sharp goalkeeping from Jay Hogarth then saw the on loan Rangers youngsters alert to head clear a long ball as Dale Carrick burst in on goal, before the former Hearts striker hammered high and wide on the rebound from a good position.

Terrific play from the Binos on loan St Mirren attacker Kieran Offord then created space for Dale Hilson, but he couldn’t repeat his Tuesday evening trick and smashed into the side netting.

And it was almost Sons who had the final say, as Kalvin Orsi went on a jinking run from deep, but was denied by a strong arm from Binos stopper Weir.

Six minutes of injury time brought no further chances at either end, as Sons ran the clock down with clever play in the corners - to book their place in a playoff final for promotion for the first time since 2012.