Dumbarton 2
Stirling Albion 1
League 1 Play Offs (Semi final 1st leg)

2 - 1
Stirling Albion 

League 1 Play Offs (Semi final 1st leg)
Tuesday, May 7th, 2024
Dumbarton Football Stadium. Att. 900
7:45 PM Kick-off

James Hilton (12)
Tony Wallace (pen.) (84)
Dale Hilson (27)

Team Managers
Stevie Farrell
Darren Young

Starting Eleven
19. Jay Hogarth
26. Sean Crighton
5. Mark Durnan
28. Gallagher Lennon
21. Cian Newbury
14. Tony Wallace
18. Finlay Gray
17. James Hilton
7. Kalvin Orsi
12. Carlo Pignatiello
23. Michael Ruth
Mark Weir
Paul McLean
Cammy Clark
Ross McGeachie
Jordan McGregor
Kyle Banner
Callum Crane
Josh Cooper
Josh McPake
Dale Hilson
Dale Carrick

21. Patrick O'Neil
2. Aron Lynas
4. Blair Malcolm
6. Ryan Blair
10. Aaron Healy
20. Callum Wilson
8. David Wilson
9. James Graham
27. Marc Kelly
Kieran Offord
Greig Spence
Aaron Weir
Lewis Milne
Adam Cummins
Blair Currie
Rudi Molotnikov

David Wilson for James Hilton (70)
James Graham for Kalvin Orsi (83)
Greig Spence for Dale Carrick (68)
Kieran Offord for Dale Hilson (77)
Lewis Milne for Josh Cooper (77)
Adam Cummins for Paul McLean (86)
Rudi Molotnikov for Callum Crane (86)

None. Dale Hilson (23)
Jordan McGregor (64)
Paul McLean (72)
Kyle Banner (72)
Josh McPake 990)

Red Cards
None. None.
Match Officials

Ross Hardie (Referee)
Steven Traynor & Elliot Husband Powton (Assistants)
Peter Stuart (Fourth Official)

Match Report

Tony Wallace’s late penalty gave Dumbarton a first leg advantage in a pulsating playoff clash with Stirling Albion at The Rock.

The attacker’s 15th of the season proved the distance between the sides after a fiercely competitive 90 minutes, which saw Sons take an early lead through Jinky Hilton - only for Dale Hilson to level for the visitors midway through the half.

And boss Stevie Farrell was keen to stress that it was only half-time for his side, with the scene set for a powderkeg 90 minutes at Forthbank on Saturday.

The gaffer said: “We’re pleased to win the game and I thought over the piece we deserved to win. But ultimately it’s only half-time.

“I’m sure Stirling Albion will be saying that, and I would’ve been saying it if we’d been a goal behind. There’s nothing in it.

“It was two fairly evenly matched teams. We’ve came out on top, but it means nothing for Saturday. We’ll have to be at our best to finish the job at Forthbank.

“If we’re going to be successful on Saturday then we’ll need to be just like we were tonight. We have to be brave and we have to have moments that go our way.”

After rotating his squad heavily for the final day of the season defeat to Peterhead, boss Farrell had a full strength lineup available for a warm evening at The Rock.

And after suffering semi-final heartbreak in each of the previous two seasons, Sons started the game like a side with a point to prove.

Jinky Hilton looped an early effort into the arms of Binos keeper Mark Weir in the first opening of note, before a slick move saw Sons take a 12th minute lead.

Carlo Pignatiello picked up a loose pass and drove into space, before sending cousin Kalvin Orsi free down the right wing.

The winger burst beyond a challenge before delivering a pinpoint cross for Hilton to bullet a header beyond Weir and into the net.

Orsi looked a man in the mood, and a terrific run saw him breeze beyond two red shirts before having a cross hacked clear.

Having looked shellshocked by the early setback, Darren Young’s visitors then drew level with their first meaningful attack of the game.

Despite claims for handball, Cammy Clark pass found Dale Hilson - and he cut inside before drilling a terrific low effort beyond Jay Hogarth and into the net.

That looked to give the visitors a lift, as they began to enjoy plenty of the ball in Sons’ half - but a Kyle Banner shot that was bravely charged down by Cian Newbury was as close as they came.

And it would be Sons who finished the half the stronger.

Michael Ruth’s cute flick dropped perfectly for Tony Wallace, but his volley lacked conviction and was easily held by Weir.

Another terrific Orsi run then saw the winger caught by a late Josh Cooper challenge - with referee Ross Hardie waving away furious appeals for a foul from the Sons bench.

The attack continued however, with Michael Ruth eventually getting a shot away in a packed box that was hooked off the line by Stirling’s Ross McGeachie.

Early in the second period the Binos came close as the ever-dangerous Josh McPake saw his free-kick loop up off the wall and into the roof of the net.

That was as close as either side would come until the 70th minute however, as the game became a physical midfield battle.

Gallagher Lennon’s deep cross found goalscorer Hilton, who lashed into the side netting. It would be Hilton’s final contribution before being replaced by David Wilson.

However it was Sons’ second replacement who would have a more immediate impact as, just seconds after coming on, James Graham burst beyond a collection of challenges and found Wilson in the box - with the ex-Bino upended by a mistimed Paul McLean lunge.

After a lengthy delay as Binos players protested the decision, top scorer Tony Wallace calmly sent Weir the wrong way from 12 yards.

That set the tone for a frantic final 10 minutes - which brought a host of chances at both ends.

Graham showed superb pace to burst in beyond the Binos defence and square for the onrushing Finlay Gray - but he curled narrowly off target.

Only sharp goalkeeping from Weir then denied impressive Rangers youngster Graham after another blistering run - whilst at the other end another loan Ranger, keeper Jay Hogarth, was alert to touch away a Rudi Molotnikov effort from point blank range as Sons held on.

Match report written by Fraser Clarke

Squad Statistics (as at May 7th, 2024)

2023/24 All Time
Jay Hogarth (GK)20 19 - 19 -
Sean Crighton34 432432
Mark Durnan31 26 - 26 -
Gallagher Lennon18 181181
Cian Newbury18 20 - 20 -
Tony Wallace33 45158018
Finlay Gray22 3958211
James Hilton26 397397
Kalvin Orsi27 3411173
Carlo Pignatiello24 423835
Michael Ruth22 41134113
David Wilson (sub)29 3521017
James Graham (sub)19 102102

League Table (as at May 7th, 2024)