Loons back in relegation mire

FORFAR Athletic’s topsy-turvy season saw them slip back into the battle to avoid the drop into the Scottish third division on Saturday (writes Alan Ducat).

A single goal defeat at Dumbarton, coupled with Albion Rovers’ shock one-nil victory over Cowdenbeath, means Dick Campbell’s men have real fight on their hands if they are to steer clear of the bottom two places in the second division.

Although the Loons have a five-point cushion over bottom dogs Stirling Albion they are only a single point clear of Albion Rovers with five games to go.

And the run-in is far from easy. East Fife, a team on the fringe of a promotion place-off spot, are visitors to Station Park this coming Saturday, but then comes two exceptionally tricky matches away to the leading sides in the table, Arbroath and Cowdenbeath, on successive Saturdays.

Then comes what seems set to be the all-important match, at home to Albion Rovers on the last Saturday in April, the season ending for the Loons at Stenhousemuir on Saturday. May 5 - if they manage to avoid the play-offs that could leave them battling to avoid the drop!

Forfar could have made their task that little bit easier had they got some sort of result in a tight match at New Strathclyde Stadium on Saturday past.

As it turned out, a goalkeeping blunder saw them slump to a single goal defeat.

The first half was one of few chances, with the best opportunity falling to Forfar striker Dale Hilson as he fired wide from 12 yards. Third-top Dumbarton gradually began to take control in the second half and were denied by a good save from Paterson, who punched away Alan Lithgow’s close-range header.

Paterson would soon be the architect of Forfar’s downfall, however, when, in the 56th minute, he diverted Scott Agnew’s left-wing corner into his own net to put the home side ahead.

The keeper’s error proved to be a fatal one as Dumbarton held on to take all three points, and leave the Loons hovering just above Albion Rovers in the table.

Forfar boss Dick Campbell was left annoyed not just by the Paterson howler but his side’s lack of cutting edge.

“Our keeper has thrown one into his own net,” commented Campbell. “He should have prevented the corner that led to the goal in the first place.

“The goal-keeping issue has been a problem for me all season and it has come back to haunt us again.

“I felt we should have been in front at half-time but we were poor in the final third of the pitch.”

Dumbarton - Grindlay, Finnie, Creaney, Lithgow, Kennedy, Mptata (Graham), Gilhaney, Agnew, Nicoll, Prunty (Walker) and Dargo.

Forfar Athletic - Paterson, McCulloch, Shaughnessy, Tulloch, Ross, Gibson (Byers), Hegarty (Bolocheweckyj), Hilson, Low (Ross Campbell), Templeman and Motion.