Saturday 24th July 2021
THIS time next week, the ball will really be rolling.
Nine weeks after he became Dumbarton manager, Stevie Farrell will start business in the real bread and butter of the season.
A trip to Broadwood to face Clyde will be his first assignment as Sons gaffer in League One, after a Premier Sports Cup sectional campaign which could be described as challenging.
Matchday one forfeited. Matchdays two and three undertaken with the squad seriously hit by injuries and isolations.
Matchday four played with a fuller squad, but in 27 degrees without a water break, and despite a spirited and promising performance, another defeat to a stronger side.
That is all in the past now, though, and when the action starts next Saturday, Dumbarton’s squad will hopefully be even fuller and good to go at the main challenge of the season.
It is matchday five in the Premier Sports Cup today, but Sons are the idle team in their group. With the boots hung up for the afternoon, Stevie will instead spend the afternoon at Cappielow, scouting Clyde as they play Morton in their final sectional tie.
Speaking to www.dumbartonfootballclub.com, the manager said: “I was a lot happier on Tuesday. You saw the difference with the players back, although they were not fully fit.
“In the first half we looked a right good side with the way we passed the ball and moved it about, and with the positions we took up.
“We had 55 per cent possession and forced seven or eight corners. If we do that in League One, playing that sort of football, we will give ourselves a chance.
“We’ve got to look at things as a whole. We’ve not been preparing for one or two games over the last five or six weeks; we’ve been preparing for a season.
“I don’t get too despondent in times of difficulty and I don’t get too inflated when results are going our way. You will always have highs and lows over the season.
“The players know that the games against Stenhousemuir and Dunfermline were not really a true reflection of our squad – we had many of the squad missing.
“We now have most of them back and have Pat Boyle, Andy Geggan and Paul Paton, all of whom have a major part to play, to return.
“We think Paul and Andy will probably be back in full training this week, but whether they will be in time for the Clyde game is debatable as they’ve had time out.
“Pat is also due to start running again this week. All three are set to be back sooner rather than later and we look forward to that.
“When we have the full squad available, we will be in a good place. We are creating chances and if we keep playing on the front foot we’ll be OK.”
Stevie gives the team instructions during a water break at Dunfermline last Saturday. Copyright Andy Scott Photos 2021.
Stevie hopes to add one final piece to the jigsaw this week – a striker who is set to complete the squad.
However, the potential value of such players makes that a difficult search, although there are options available.
The gaffer also confirmed that a trialist full back who took part in the friendly matches will not be signing.
Stevie continued: “Strikers are hard to come by. They cost the most money and there is a reason for that as they are the ones putting the ball in the net. We know and understand that.
“But we have a couple of targets and are looking at a couple of things. We’ve brought a couple of amateurs in to make sure we could fulfil the games we had to.
“The trialist full back will not happen. His previous club wanted a fee for him as he is under 24, and that was something we weren’t prepared to do, and couldn’t do. We wish the player and his agent all the best.”
Stevie also confirmed that in his head, the teamsheet for next Saturday’s game is mostly written, barring anything happening in terms of player availability.
And ahead of facing Clyde, another ‘C’ word is the watchword going into the new League One campaign. Consistency.
In what is set to be a closely-contested division, the gaffer is only too aware of the importance of one good result followed by another, and another, for as long as possible.
That will not be easy to achieve against nine opponents with exactly the same ideas, but Stevie has confidence in what he has assembled.
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Joe McKee was one of those to return at Firhill on Tuesday. Copyright Tommy Hughes 2021.
He added: “The boys have been out with illness and injuries, but all being well, players will be coming back. We had a good training session on Thursday with really high intensity and it’ll be similar on Tuesday and Thursday to ensure we’re ready to face Clyde.
“In my mind, I’ve probably got most of the team picked for that game.
“I enjoy the League Cup, even with the difficulties we’ve had this season. The players involved in the three games have had some valuable game time against very good opposition.
“That will stand us in good stead, but the league is everything. We know we are in a difficult league where all 10 teams are capable of beating each other.
“We know we’ll have to be at our very best to get points on the board, but I believe in this squad. I am confident with them going into the league season, although there will be ups and downs.
“I’ve been in League One and Two, and the Championship, and in all three of those consistency has been important.
“If you go on a run of two or three games unbeaten you can find yourself in the top half. But it’s that tight that with two or three defeats you find yourself in a battle.
“I really don’t think there is a lot between the squads. A couple of teams should be favourites with full-time resources but that’s not always proven to be the way.
“We’ve got to ensure consistency to our game, week on week, and if we do that we’ll give ourselves a chance.
“A target for the season is between me and the players, but we know where Dumbarton finished last year and our first aim is to ensure that doesn’t happen again.
“If we can move ourselves higher up the table than that, and get a run of results together and a good spirit, then I believe the squad is capable and you just never know what can happen.”