Dumbarton exited the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Cup at the first hurdle, with defeat to St Mirren’s under-21 side.
In a match attended by just 279 fans, with many boycotting the game in protest against the inclusion of youth sides in a senior tournament, there was little quality on display – with Josh Jack’s excellent first-half free kick proving the difference.
After a turgid opening 30 minutes that saw Isaac Layne flash the only real chance of the match well beyond Dean Lyness’ goal, it was the visitors – coached by former Dumbarton defender Allan McManus – who took the lead.
Mati Zata conceded a clumsy foul on the edge of the area, with Josh Jack whipping the resulting free-kick beyond Jordan Pettigrew in the Dumbarton goal.
As the game neared half-time Dumbarton suffered a double injury blow, first losing captain Stuart Carswell and then the experience Jordan McMillan to muscle related issues. Rico Quitongo and Kyle Hutton replaced the duo.
The switches seemed to spark Sons into some form of life too, with Mati Zata unlucky to see his low effort turned away by Lyness, before Huttont tried his luck with a 35 yard piledriver that was touched wide by the Saints ‘keeper.
In the second-half it was again Jim Duffy’s men who were on top, with a neat move setting Rico Quitongo free down the left. His cross was flicked on by Ryan Tierney to Isaac Layne, however the Englishman couldn’t quite turn the ball goalwards.
Conor Scullion was next to try his luck, however he saw his effort from Joe McKee’s corner hacked off the line by a St Mirren defender.
An even more glorious chance then came and went on the hour mark.
Quitongo and Ryan Tierney linked up to present the ball to Layne, however five yards out and with time and space, he contrived to hit the post with Lyness helpless.
Sons were then dealt a third injury blow, with Joe McKee becoming the third player to pick up an injury – with the former Morton midfielder replaced by PJ Crossan in Dumbarton’s final switch.
Crossan was immedietely involved, hitting the by-line before teeing up a cross for Layne – however he couldn’t quite stetch enough to touch the ball into the empty net.
And that proved to be Dumbarton’s final golden opportunity, as the well organised and stuffy young Saints held on to progress.
Despite the result however Dumbarton manager Jim Duffy was keen to highlight the positives from the performance.
He said: “I’m bitterly disappointed because I thought we controlled the game for large spells, as we maybe should’ve done, but we missed two or three glaring opportunities and their goal was a really good goal.
“In the first-half we totally controlled the game, in the second-half as the game wore on you see the players getting a little bit frustrated because you can sense the game is ebbing away, and then they start rushing things a bit, but if you’ve not won games recently and your confidence is low then you can get a bit fragile.
“Overall though I thought the performance was better, without being great, there’s a wee bit more calmness about the play.
“It’s not easy when you’re not winning games, everyone wants to rush things, but there was a wee bit more control on the game.”
Dumbarton’s quest for a first league win, and first goal since mid-July, now sees them travel to Peterhead this Saturday in Ladbrokes League One.
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