Murdo MacLeod on Dumbarton: Survival, gaffers & ‘terrific’ Thompson

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Victory over Greenock Morton on Saturday gave a huge boost to Dumbarton’s survival hopes. And following a habit of late-season revivals and the current form of star striker Robert Thompson, I’m backing the Sons to survive the drop in the Ladbrokes Championship once again.

I have fond memories of winning promotion to the second tier with the Sons back in 1995, and it’s nice to see the current crop playing at this level under a talented manager in Steven Aitken. Here’s my thoughts on all things Dumbarton…

Big-game displays point to Sons’ survival

There’s definitely enough quality in Steven Aitken’s squad to suggest that they’re going to be alright.

You saw that when they went to Easter Road a few weeks back and led twice, eventually coming away with a 2-2 draw. And now they’ve secured a victory against Morton, who are flying high this season.

A lot of people point to their part-time status and say ‘it’s going to be tough for them’, but Dumbarton are used to defying the odds, year after year. They produce those big performances and get the right results at the vital times.

Last season’s feats stand them in good stead

We saw the Sons avoid the relegation play-offs in the Championship last season, with crucial victories over Queen of the South and St Mirren in the final weeks of the campaign. And that stands them in great stead again here.

And it’s not just last year. Back in 2013-14, they looked set to go down at one point, and then won six of the last 10 games. So there’s a real history at the club of stepping it up at this time of the season.

That squad won’t have any fear heading to Tannadice or hosting Falkirk in the coming games. They’ll save themselves and escape the bottom two spots in the table.

No shortage of attacking skill, but defence needs fixing

I was at the Bet Butler Stadium when they beat Falkirk 2-1 earlier this season, and watching Dumbarton live, you could see they had quite a lot of attacking flair. And they’ve shown that on a number of occasions since.

Bringing in Ian Durrant as a coach has also been a good move for the side, and has helped them gel as a team and improve on a technical level.

I think some of the bigger sides have maybe underestimated Dumbarton a bit this season, and they’ve taken advantage of that.

Defence has been an issue, with the leakiest backline in the division – but a clean sheet against Morton last weekend shows they’re on the right track.

Talented Thompson is best of the bunch

Last year, Garry Fleming was the man making the difference in the big games for the Sons, and this year Robert Thompson is doing the same. He’s been in terrific form lately, with five goals in as many games.

He’s scored a lot of important ones, including that late equaliser against St Mirren and the first two goals when they beat Raith Rovers 4-0 last month. If he can just get one or two more now, then I think that’ll confirm Dumbarton’s safety.

There’s six games left for him to reach double figures in the league – with nine and counting so far. So he’ll be desperate to add to his tally, and I’m sure he’ll manage to do so.

Aitken is the man to take Dumbarton forward

I think Stephen Aitken and Ian Durrant are a good double-act. But there’s no doubt Stevie is a very good manager in his own right. And keeping Dumbarton in the Championship this season would be another big success, and gives him another year under his belt.

Do that, and I think he has the squad at his disposal and the experience now to push on and improve their position next season.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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