United’s long unbeaten run came to an end courtesy of a bizarre goal at the Cheaper Insurance Direct Stadium this afternoon.
By Peter Rundo
Instead of the usual 4-4-2 formation, United lined up in 4-1-4 -1 formation on a greasy pitch after some heavy showers.
In an early attack, Blair Spittal was on the end of a Seán Dillon header, but his control let him down and keeper Alan Martin collected.
The home side were first to test either keeper with Mark Docherty’s low first-time drive from 25 yards comfortably smothered by Cammy Bell after five minutes.
Almost immediately, Sam Stanton let fly from even greater distance, but to everyone’s relief, the ball went just past then far post.
By the mid-point of the half, United were dictating proceedings but finding it hard to create any clear cut chances.
But there was a real setback for United after 27 minutes when Docherty sent a purely speculative ball into the box with which Robert Thomson failed to connect, only for the ball to skid off the sodden surface and into the top corner.
Two minutes later Martin was tested for the first time, Murdoch drilling in a low shot from 35 yards which the Sons’ keeper saved at full stretch.
On 33 minutes, William Edjenguélé picked up the game’s first booking for what looked the softest of fouls on Garry Fleming.
Then deficit was almost doubled seven minutes from the break when Joe Thomson’s first time volley from the edge of the box flew inches over.
Two minutes later Willo Flood pounced on a clearance and his sweetly struck first-timed drive from 25 yards was tipped over by Martin.
Simon Murray did have the ball in the net shortly afterwards but Dixon’s cut-back was from behind the bye-line.
So the disappointment of the opening half performance was only exacerbated by news that Hibs were back on top after winning 2-1 at Falkirk!
No changes in personnel, but Blair Spittal moved to the right with Scott Fraser switching to the left with van der Velden joining Murray up top.
And with the wind now behind them combined with those changes saw the Tangerines start to really press. For the more and a probing cross from Murray was headed for the safety of a corner after 56 minutes.
But the award almost brought an equaliser with Mark Durnan’s flick from Fraser’s delivery careering up and hitting the top of the bar.
Nevertheless, Manager Ray McKinnon made a double substitution after 63 minutes with Spittal and Murray being replaced by Tope Obadeyi and Cammy Smith with van der Velden going up top in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Obadeyi almost made an instant impact with a run from midway inside his own half to the bye-line couldn’t get a cross in.
With 18 minutes left, a flowing move involving Obadeyi and van der Velden set up Cammy Smith whose shot from the angle of the penalty box was deflected over.
Sam Stanton was the second player to be booked after felling Obadeyi.
With 13 minutes left, Fraser fired a free-kick narrowly over after a foul on Cammy Smith as United continued their quest for an equaliser.
That might easily have come ten minutes later when Durnan was on the end of a Dixon cross, only to head wide when right in front of goal.
Tempers flared five minutes from the end and van der Velden and Gregor Buchanan were booked following an altercation.
With three minutes left United came even closer to getting an elusive goal.
Durnan nodded down a Dillon cross and after Martin parried it, an almighty scramble ensued with the Sons defence just managing to keep the ball out.
And although pushed right back, for the last few minutes they held on.
Summing Up: United’s long unbeaten run came to an in end in a disappointing fashion and, more importantly, with HIbs winning at Falkirk, they now trail the Easter Road side by a point as they go into next week’s table top clash.
Having lost a freakish goal, it was only in the second half that they really troubled the Sons defence. After a second defeat here, every United fan will be glad that they won’t have to make another trip to the Cheaper Insurance Direct Stadium.
Man of the Match: Willo Flood did his best to motivate the side to earn the award.
Dumbarton: Alan Martin, Mark Docherty, Joe Thomson, Gregor Buchanan, Josh Todd, Garry Fleming (Ryan Stevenson, 80), Robert Thomson, Sam Stanton, Daniel Harvie, Darren Barr, David Smith,
Subs not used: Mark Brown, Craig Pettigrew, Donald McCallum, Frazer Wright.
United: Cammy Bell, Seán Dillon, Mark Durnan, William Edjenguélé, Paul Dixon, Stewart Murdoch, Nick van der Velden, Willo Flood, Scott Fraser (Coll Donaldson 82), Blair Spittal (Tope Obadeyi 63), Simon Murray (Cammy Smith 63).
Subs not used: Luis Zwick, Lewis Toshney, Charlie Telfer, Jamie Robson.
Dumbarton: J Thomson
United: Edjenguélé, van der Velden
Referee: Steven Finnie