Stanton returns to see off Sons Old boy hits a double for United
Fraser Clarke An early double from former S o n s ma n S a m S t a n t o n consigned Dumbarton t o a winless Oc t ober i n t he Championship after a below par per formance allowed Dundee United to claim all three points.
Cl ear l y buoyed by hi s t eam’s showing at Cappielow l ast week, Stevie Aitken kept faith with the same starting 11 for just the third time this season.
There was one notable addition to the matchday squad however, with Stuart Carswell returning to the bench having missed the last six weeks after nose surgery.
There were further positive signs in the warm-up too, with long-term injury victim Danny Handling – who has featured just twice since joining in late July – able to take part in light training.
Unfortunately, any positivity in the home end evaporated after just 77 seconds.
Andy Dowie l o s t p o s s e s s i o n cheaply in the middle of the park and t he ball f ell i nto t he path of former Dumbarton hero Stanton, who demonstrated the sort of skill that made him a big favourite at the Rock with a stunning curling effort f rom 20 yards that f ound the top corner of the net.
Dumbarton’s response to the early setback was slow. Sons looked to lose confidence and struggled to string more than a handful of passes together, while the trickery of King and Smith on the wings were causing Sam Wardrop and Chris McLaughlin plenty of problems.
Tom Walsh did manage to force Harry Lewis into action for the first t i me. The Southampton l oanee caused a brief panic in the box after spilling the former Rangers winger’s high cross under little pressure.
Dowie was f ortunate t o t urn a wicked Scott Fraser free-kick beyond his own post, however Sons wouldn’t be so lucky from the resultant corner.
Fraser’s quick delivery caught out the Dumbarton defence and, while they attempted to get themselves organised, St anton managed t o squeeze a shot through Mark Stewart and Scott Gallacher for his second of the game. At the other end of the park a tame Dimitris Froxylias effort that was easily held by Lewis was as close as Sons came.
After such an i neffective f i rsthalf showing, Aitken found himself forced into a change at half- time – wit h t he i njured Walsh being replaced by Ross County l oanee Greg Morrison.
The switch was an interesting one which saw for ward Mark Stewart move out wide in place of Walsh and Morrison lead the line alone.
Given t he availability of t hree out and out wingers on the bench, and the fact that Morrison is still searching for his first goal for the club, it was also one that appeared less than obvious.
United should’ve sealed the three points as Scott McDonald broke clear of the Dumbarton defence, however his effort was well saved by namesake Gallacher at the expense of a corner.
Any lingering hopes of a comeback were then well and truly killed off a f t e r 6 3 minutes a s Cra i g Bar r picked up his second booking of t he ga me i n s omewhat bi z a r r e circumstances.
The f or mer Gretna man went d ow n u n d e r what l o o k e d l i k e, a t b e s t , mini mal c o nt a c t f r o m St e war t Murdoch, wi t h r e f e r e e Craig Charleston waving away his appeals before stopping play and rewarding his theatrics with a second yellow card.
Barr’s sheepish reaction suggested that the decision was the correct one, with the moment of madness now forcing him to sit out next week’s crucial visit to Brechin.
It was also a decision that killed off the game as Dumbarton packed t h e ms e l v e s i n t o a r i g i d 4 - 4 - 1 formation and allowed United time and space to stroke the ball about with ease.
Scott Gallacher did well to deny Stanton a hat- t r i ck with a smart l ow save i n what was t he game’s last serious chance of note, despite the best efforts of man of the match Froxylias to get Dumbarton on the scoresheet.
Aitken now has t o l i f t his side ahead of one of the biggest games of the season this weekend as the Sons make the long journey north to face fellow part-timers Brechin City.
Dumbarton ........ 0 Dundee United ... 2
Battle for the ball Dumbarton’s Kyle Hutton in action against Dundee United’s James Keatings
Pitch battle David Wilson goes in for the ball against Dundee United’s Billy King