Thursday 3rd 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.

Queen of the South are the fourth team to go under the microscope. The trip to Palmerston Park has always been one for Dumbarton to approach with trepidation, but after last season’s visits there, is the tide finally turning? It will, however, be tough for things to continue that way – although there might be a home victory between the two clubs this season.

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

Dumbarton v Queen of the South: Saturday, November 11; Saturday, Saturday, March 10.

Queen of the South v Dumbarton: Saturday, August 19; Tuesday, January 2 (during day).

Last season’s meetings with Dumbarton:

Saturday, October 1 2016 – Dumbarton 0 Queen of the South 0
Saturday, December 3 2016 – Queen of the South 1 Dumbarton 2
Saturday, January 21 2017 – Dumbarton 1 Queen of the South 2
Saturday, April 22 2017 – Queen of the South 1 Dumbarton 2 – page has pictures only

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

Saturday, July 15 – Stenhousemuir 1 Queen of the South 3
Tuesday, July 18 – Queen of the South 0 East Kilbride 0 (East Kilbride won on penalties)
Saturday, July 22 – Hamilton Accies 1 Queen of the South 1 (Hamilton won on penalties)
Saturday, July 29 – Queen of the South 2 Albion Rovers 2 (QOS won on penalties)

Signings: Callum Fordyce (Dunfermline Athletic); Alan Martin and Andy Stirling (Dumbarton); Shaun Rooney (York City);

First four league games: Brechin City (H); Dundee United (A); Dumbarton (H); Falkirk (A).

The run-in (last four league games): Inverness CT (H); Morton (A); Dundee United (H); Brechin City (A).

Analysis: Last season Queen of the South showed that a strong start is always liable to fall apart at any time. Starting in a blaze of euphoria at the return of Stephen Dobbie to Palmerston, they left Dumbarton on Saturday, October 1 still unbeaten in the league and with 18 points from a possible 24. Indeed, Sons could justly feel a degree of satisfaction at having held them to a goalless draw that day, although chances were missed that day to record an even more notable result.

But it would be mid-December before another point was put on the board. Matchday nine of the league campaign was a shock 5-0 reverse at home to Morton, which was to be the first of seven consecutive Championship defeats, a run which ended with a 2-2 draw at Falkirk. Even then, it was not until the first Saturday of 2017, when they beat St Mirren 3-0, that Queens experienced victory in the league for the first time since September 17. What was their salvation during that time was a continuing run in the Irn Bru Cup, a run which ended with defeat at the semi-final stage to Dundee United. The rest of the campaign had its ups and downs, but realistically Queens were one of the first teams Dumbarton knew they would face next season if Sons survived themselves.

It had been well documented that over the years, games against Queen of the South had not been Dumbarton’s easiest source of points. But despite that, Sons actually had quite a fruitful time against the Dumfries men last season – including winning at Palmerston twice in the same campaign for the first time since 1991/92. Indeed, a 2-1 victory in September 2013 had been their only victory down Terregles Street since. In total seven points were taken against a side which set the early pace in the Championship – the mystery was that in the four meetings of the sides, there were no home victories.

Sons already know a fair bit about the obstacles they face in their bid to take points from Queens this season. Five player of the year trophies at the Sonstrust awards night in May say it all about the performances of Alan Martin in goal for Dumbarton. More often than not, there would be at least one occasion per match when he produced a save which would look at home in a higher division. Meanwhile, Andy Stirling’s tricky play going forward was also an asset to Sons’ successful bid for a sixth season in the Championship. With a striker of Dobbie’s calibre still around to finish moves created by Stirling, Queens could well be a team to watch going forward.

Having reached the play-offs twice in a row, Queen of the South have had a leaner last couple of years, finishing in mid-table. Now, with the division being more open, that could be about to change. They have quality in many areas of the pitch and will not be taken lightly by any of the frontrunners for promotion. One area for improvement is picking up more points at Palmerston – their tally of nine defeats and 29 goals conceded at home could only be ‘bettered’, in each case, by bottom team Ayr United.

Gary Naysmith’s first half season at Queens, having inherited the hot seat in December, saw a mix of highs and lows. If he has spent the close season implementing the things that made him a success with East Fife, there may be something in this season for the Doonhamers.

Verdict: Enough to consolidate easily, but going any higher will depend on how much they can still get from Dobbie and whether Martin and Stirling can replicate their performances with Dumbarton.

Join the debate @dumbartonfc and #sons24

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