Doune Castle 3
Dunblane Soccer Club 2
Ryan Duncanson headed a dramatic late winner to cap an astonishing Castle fightback.
A woeful first half performance saw Doune deservedly 2-0 down at the break to a well-organised and confident Dunblane side. A storming second-half recovery allowed a transformed Castle to sweep aside their visitors and snatch a stirring victory with Duncanson’s late goal.
Dunblane demonstrated early intent. After 2 minutes, an angled drive from the edge of the box forced Callum Davison into a decent save, diving to his right to parry before gathering.
It took Doune all of 15 minutes to threaten. Ryan Duncanson connected with a David Innes corner, but was unable to direct his header on target.
2 minutes later, Dunblane were inches from taking the lead. Maclaren floated a free kick into the area. A deft header looked to be creeping towards the far corner until a Castle defender did enough to divert it wide.
A strangely disjointed Doune were unable to bring any fluency into their play. Time and again they squandered possession and saw moves break down through their collective inability to pass accurately. In stark contrast, Dunblane moved the ball confidently and started to dominate possession.
Dunblane spectacularly edged into a 1-0 lead after 33 minutes. Full back Cramb gathered the ball near the touchline some 35 yards out. His wind-assisted cross to the back post whistled high past Callum Davison to nestle into the top corner for 1-0.
Niall McClure released Graham McClymont down the right with an incisive pass. McClymont drove across his marker but hooked his lobbed effort a yard wide of the far post.
Dunblane soon returned to the front foot and moved into a 2-0 lead after 38 minutes.
There seemed sufficient cover in the heart of the Castle box when Dunblane angled a cross from the right. Astonishingly, diminutive forward Wilson darted between two defenders to direct a precise header wide of Callum Davison into the far corner from 8 yards.
Half-time saw Doune fortunate only to be two goals behind.
The half-time team talk from Manager Tully appeared to have an immediate impact. From the re-start, Doune suddenly became a team eager to take possession and finally started to ping the ball around crisply.
Dunblane now became the side very much on the backfoot as Doune’s confident passing saw them hem the away side deep into their own half.
The fightback began on 50 minutes.
Niall McClure launched a long-throw from the left into the area. Alan Inglis challenged with two defenders and did enough to nudge the ball towards the back post. Ryan Meldrum slid in and forced the ball home from 8 yards to make it 2-1.
Dunblane keeper Dale miskicked his attempted pass to a defender and saw Niall McClure gather 25 yards out. McClure reacted quickly to drive the ball towards the unguarded net. Dale did well to race back to recover with a take high to his left.
The equaliser came after 62 minutes.
Niall McClure directed an inviting angled ball into the area, leaving Sean Wilbert in a race with keeper Dale. Wilbert reached the ball first and bravely directed a strong header high into the net from 14 yards for 2-2.
A perplexed Dunblane became the side unable to force meaningful possession as Doune moved the ball slickly to keep them under a barrage of pressure.
On 67 minutes, Niall McClure headed a Graham McClymont cross over from 12 yards.
After 75 minutes, Robbie Hurst curled an in-swinging corner into the area. 8 yards out, Sean Wilbert connected, but slightly miscued his header which slipped a foot wide of the left-hand upright.
Alan Inglis and John Marshall combined to create an opening for Niall McClure. McClure seemed certain to head home, but was unable to direct his effort on target and the ball slipped over.
Doune continued to press as the game moved to its closing stages.
After 83 minutes, John Marshall was given an opportunity to edge Doune ahead. Following a throw on the left, Marshall found himself clear. He raced forward, but keeper Dale blocked his angled drive with both legs.
A minute later, Alan Inglis zipped a low drive from 22 yards that flashed a yard wide of the right-hand post with Dale rooted.
Dunblane did respond with a late flurry of counter-attacks, but the Castle defence dealt comfortably with any threat and the home side soon charged forward once more.
On 88 minutes, Doune netted the winner.
Doune won a free kick 30 yards out, just left of centre. Robbie Hurst curled a cross towards the line of waiting Castle forwards. Hurst seemed to have over-hit his cross. Alan Inglis did well to head the ball in the air to keep it in play. Inglis then directed the ball back across the face of the goal to the back post.
Ryan Duncanson attacked the loose ball to power a header past Dale’s despairing dive and high into the net for 3-2 to give the relieved Castle a win that had seemed so unlikely after their inept first-half display.
Doune Castle: Davison, Coubrough (Wilbert), Duncanson, Docherty, D. Innes, McClure, Gibson (Hurst), Marshall, Inglis, Meldrum (Deacon) Substitutes: Macfarlane, Balmer