Friday 4th August 2017

AS part of Sons 24, we are once again taking an in-depth look at the nine teams who stand between Dumbarton and the points they need to achieve their goal this season.

Runners-up in the final Championship table last season, Falkirk are next under the microscope in the penultimate part of the series. The Bairns have been challenging for promotion for the last few seasons and are determined to see themselves over the finish line this time around.

Please note that the views in this article are not necessarily those of Dumbarton FC, its board or any staff.

Dumbarton v Falkirk: Saturday, December 23; Saturday, April 21.

Falkirk v Dumbarton: Saturday, August 12; Saturday, February 24.

Last season’s meetings with Dumbarton:

Saturday, August 27 2016- Falkirk 1 Dumbarton 0
Saturday, December 17 2016 – Dumbarton 2 Falkirk 1
Saturday, February 25 2017 – Falkirk 2 Dumbarton 2
Saturday, May 6 2017 – Dumbarton 0 Falkirk 1

Season 2017/18 so far: Betfred League Cup sectional matches –

Saturday, July 15 – Falkirk 4 Stirling Albion 1
Saturday, July 22 – Inverness CT 0 Falkirk 2
Tuesday, July 25 – Falkirk 4 Forfar Athletic 0
Saturday, July 29 – Brechin City 0 Falkirk 3

Signings: Alex Harris (Hibernian); Rory Loy (Dundee); David Mitchell (Dundee); Robbie Mutch (Aberdeen).

First four league games: St Mirren (A); Dumbarton (H); Dunfermline Athletic (A); Queen of the South (H).

The run-in (last four league games): Dunfermline (H); Dundee United (A); Dumbarton (A); St Mirren (H).

Analysis: They’ve been in a Scottish Cup final and, in the four seasons since the promotion play-offs were established, they’ve failed to make them only once. But all that counts for very little if you are Falkirk, who since relegation in 2010 have had a return to the top flight as their main goal. This will be their eighth bid to do so and the longer the wait goes on, the keener they are to get back to Scotland’s top flight.

Their preparations towards doing so have begun positively with the retention of most of last season’s squad, although the loss of Luke Leahy to Walsall is a blow, and quality additions to it. The fact that they have signed two goalkeepers over the close season suggest that the talents of Danny Rogers in goal have now been lost to his parent club, Aberdeen, after two seasons with Falkirk. Sons boss Stevie Aitken, though, knows what a quality replacement the Bairns have recruited in David Mitchell, who flourished at Stranraer under the Dumbarton gaffer’s management.

Another player Falkirk were delighted to recruit – and who St Mirren were gutted to miss out on – is Rory Loy. The striker may have seen his penalty saved by Alan Martin when Dumbarton visited the Buddies in April, but overall the move was one which re-established him at Championship level after a frustrating spell with Dundee. It was his form during his first spell at Falkirk which prompted the move to Dens Park and if he can recapture that form in his original navy blue jersey, he can be a major part of things.

Like many of the other major players in last season’s Championship, Falkirk didn’t always find Dumbarton easy pickings. They did beat them twice, but were required to wait until the later stages of each game before getting the decisive goal. They were beaten on their other visit to the Rock and were behind at the Falkirk Stadium in February before rescuing a point. They are the only team Sons have faced in every one of their six seasons, including the coming one, in the Championship era, and have often found the Rock a difficult place to come and take points. They have won on five of their 10 visits to G82, with Sons victorious on three occasions.

Falkirk are definitely capable of challenging for the title this season but the concessions of points and tales of what might have been have to happen at a far lesser rate. Their visit to Dumbarton on the season’s penultimate Saturday may also be of huge significance, especially since the fixtures either side are against teams who also have designs on a promotion push this season. There will be frustrations and tough tests along the way, but Falkirk should be in the thick of the race again, especially after a 100 per cent Betfred Cup group record with only one goal conceded.

Verdict: Should finish in the top four once again, but a title push depends on whether the Rory Loy who has returned to the club is the Rory Loy they know. Time will tell.

Join the debate @dumbartonfc and #sons24

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