PERHAPS a win was not quite as essential as it was at the same venue 28 years ago.
It certainly would have helped, but even after it, there are 720 minutes of football remaining for Stirling Albion and Dumbarton to fight out who wins the ultimate prize in this season’s cinch League Two.
In the end, the teams were as closely matched on the Forthbank Stadium pitch as they are in the league table. Ross MacLean and Finlay Gray each thought they may have secured the three points for Sons, only for Robert Thomson to deny each of them from a corner.
There were other opportunities for each side, but ultimately the teams are no further apart in the division than they were at the start of play.
Dumbarton now have an opportunity to go back to the top of the league on Wednesday night against Forfar Athletic, with the Binos having no midweek fixture.
However, this was the prelude to eight more matchdays with much more drama to come.
Despite alternative attractions at Hampden, a sizeable crowd of 1,441 was packed into the stadium to witness this key clash.
They saw Dumbarton threaten first, Peter Grant doing well to get a header on target only for the home keeper to claw it away.
But on 20 minutes, Sons led. Kalvin Orsi sent over a cross from the right and MacLean was there to score with a well-placed header.
Stirling, as expected, looked to fight back, but chances were at a premium for them until they forced a series of corners.
With the last of those, on 35 minutes, Thomson headed home the equaliser.
Seven minutes into the second half, Dumbarton’s lead was restored. The ball fell Gray’s way in the box and he snapped up the chance to join Gregor Buchanan at the top of the club’s scoring charts in all competitions with six.
There now had to be a resistance, with Brett Long saving from his former team-mate Aaron Dunsmore. But Ryan Blair was close with an audacious volley from the edge of the box as Sons looked to make things more comfortable.
But with 20 minutes left, another corner resulted in another goal for Thomson, this time a rather more scrambled effort than the previous one.
Each team extended considerable effort into the last stages of the game, but there was to be no more scoring, or clear chances to do it.
However, with the final kick of the game, Stirling’s Danny Denholm did find himself in on goal. Fortunately, his shot was at a comfortable height for Long, who kept it out.
Sons even pitched 16-year-old Luca Vata into the action again, with the youngster even taking a corner in injury time which almost resulted in a chance.
The race rumbles on.
Stirling Albion: Currie; McGeachie, McLean, Cummins, Dunsmore (Moore 66), Davidson, Carrick (Hamilton 87), Leitch, Duffy (Clark 66), Cooper (Denholm 66), Thomson. Subs: Weir; McGregor, Banner, Spence. Booked: Dunsmore, Cooper, Cummins, McGeachie, Leitch.
Dumbarton: Long; Wylde (Russell McLean 74), Buchanan, Orsi (Vata 87), Love (Lynch 77), Ross MacLean, Lynas, Gray, Grant, Blair, McNiff. Subs: Broun; Byrne. Booked: Buchanan, Gray, Long, Ross MacLean.
Referee: Calum Scott.
Images below by Andy Scott