Thursday 29th July 2021

THE Premier Sports Cup didn’t go to plan for Dumbarton. But for Ross MacLean, there were plenty grounds for optimism.

He only took the first two games of Sons’ sectional campaign in the competition to show that he’s good at doing what matters most in attack.

In the end, those counted for little, with all three ties that Dumbarton actually played ending in defeat, with Ross’s two goals being the only ones they scored.

But that was only the appetiser. Now it’s time for the main – a marathon lasting until at least the end of April.

Saturday’s game at Clyde is episode one of 36 in this season’s cinch League One. Although Ross is hopeful of three points, he insists on recognising it’s only a fraction of the challenge ahead.

He knows that challenge has to be a consistent one if Sons are to make a positive impression this season. Three points are nice to celebrate, but soon they must be in the past with the focus on the next three at stake.

Although he is the early pacesetter in the race for the club’s top scorer prize, Ross also says that it’s a team game, and that’s how Dumbarton will approach things.

Speaking to www.dumbartonfootballclub.com, Ross said: “We’re looking forward to it. We feel as if the cup games did us a bit of an injustice with the players we had out through injury and isolation.

“But the full squad are back together and we’ve had a week to prepare for the game, with no fixture last Saturday.

“There were a lot of positives to take from the cup games possession wise. I think we played some good football but defensively we were a bit all over the place, just because we were short on numbers.

“We’ve had a lot of experienced boys out of the team, but we’ve had this week to work on in and it should come together well. I think we’ve put it right in training and we’ll see soon enough if we have.

“It’s been nice to score goals but it’s all about the team for me. If I can chip in with a goal I will be happy but the most important thing is getting the win.

“It’s Dumbarton we’re going out and playing for, not ourselves individually, so we’ll just be happy with the three points if we can get them.

“I wouldn’t say Saturday’s game is hugely important because it’s a 36-game season, but it’s always a high point to get off to a winning start.

“It takes a bit of pressure off you, but Saturday won’t define our season. We need to find consistency throughout the season and if we can keep a clean sheet, that’s a good start. We need to find the balance between that and scoring goals.

“If you keep a clean sheet, you don’t lose the game. Consistency will be key if we are a solid unit for every single game.”

Ross in action in the Premier Sports Cup tie at Dunfermline, where he scored Sons’ consolation goal. Copyright Andy Scott Photos 2021.

Some League One teams had better luck in the Premier Sports Cup, although ultimately none made the last 16. Cove Rangers beat Inverness CT while Alloa Athletic defeated Livingston and Airdrieonians saw off Motherwell.

However, Ross insisted that cup results will have no bearing on how the league will pan out over the next nine months.

And he’s confident he’ll be joined on the scoresheet for the season by some of his team-mates before too long.

He added: “You can’t really judge from the cup games, because a lot of team use it for players’ fitness. We know already how hard the league is going to be; they are all good sides.

“But I feel we are a good side as well and that it will be really tight this season and being a solid unit will be really important for us.

“I’ve no doubt goals will come from other members of the squad. You’ve seen the chances we’ve created in the games so far.

“Kalvin Orsi was out of the first two cup ties we played, but the other two wingers were getting shots on target and the centre halves were coming up and winning headers.

“If we get more clinical, we’ll get goals from all over the pitch. As long as we are creating, everybody will chip in.”

Andy Galloway

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