Dumbarton put on a promising performance but were beaten 2-0 by Airdrieonians in their first competitive fixture of the 2023/24 season.
Sons travelled to the Penny Cars Stadium for their opening Viaplay Cup game of the new campaign against a side who came into the game in confidence having been promoted from League One last season via the play-offs.
There were five new faces in the starting line-up for Dumbarton as Sean Crighton, Mark Durnan, Greig Young, James Hilton and Michael Ruth all started a competitive fixture for the first time in the famous black and gold whilst Carlo Pignatiello made his second debut for the club, having re-joined in the summer following his departure from Morton.
There seemed to be no signs of the Sons players struggling to get to know each other, however, as they started the game in impressive fashion.
Whilst Airdrie created an opening in front of goal through Adam Frizzell that was blocked by Brett Long, Sons had a couple of chances of their own with Ruth heading over from Greig Young’s cross and then Ross MacLean should have put his side ahead from close range after being set up by David Wilson following one of many well-timed presses from the away side.
At the other end, Young and Aron Lynas were throwing themselves in front of the ball as Dumbarton struggled to get out of their own penalty area for what seemed like an age before Long beat away a shot to calm the pressure.
He was called into action when he dived to his right to gather Gabby McGill’s header before Hilton showed all the impressive flashes in front of goal that Sons fans expected to see when he signed for the club in the summer; he burst into the penalty box with a well-taken touch that removed his opposition man from the action but Josh Rae raced off his line quickly to get in the way of his shot.
After the break, chances in front of goal for Dumbarton continued as Ruth seemed to be one-on-one only to be let down by a poor touch before Wilson couldn’t guide his header towards goal from a left-footed Pignatiello cross.
Substitute Ryan Wallace also had space in front of him open up after Durnan had nipped in to bring an Airdrie attack to an end but got his shot all wrong from distance before linking up with fellow substitute and namesake, Tony, but his header was held by Rae.
It looked as if the game would be heading for penalties to determine an extra bonus point only for Nikolay Todorov to be in the right place at the right time to stroke the ball into the net on 87 minutes after Long had made an impressive save to deny Justin Devenny with his foot.
The points were sealed two minutes later when Lewis McGregor turned his man on the edge of the box and finished low into the net.
Despite defeat there was plenty of reasons for Dumbarton fans to be optimistic ahead of their next Group E clash with Inverness CT.
Thanks to Andy Scott for the match photos below.