Cove Rangers’ title hopes were put through a rollercoaster in a dramatic draw that saw three penalties awarded with both sides convinced that at least one award was incorrect.
Stuart Carswell provided a half-time lead for the Sons before a resurgent visiting outfit replied with a Rory McAllister penalty and a Connor Scully strike ahead of Carswell netting again from the spot.
Scully admitted that manager Paul Hartley did not need to have a blast at the break as he said: “The manager was not happy – and rightly so. However, he did not need to say too much. We knew ourselves that it was not good enough.
“We sat down and said that this is not the way Cove plays. We were determined to change it. I thought we were brilliant in the second half and the end result is hard to take.”
The strong wind at Cove’s back almost did them an early favour as the ball travelled from their own half into Mitch Megginson’s path but he slipped his effort wide.
A second chance arrived on 12 minutes when Blair Yule twisted and turned before firing straight at Sam Ramsbottom and five minutes later Scott Ross released Fraser Fyvie who sent a shot-cum-cross against the home goalkeeper’s chest.
On 20 minutes Dumbarton’s Gregg Wylde charged down the left and picked out Ross MacLean who forced his way passed Harry Milne and Stuart McKenzie did well to push away his thunderous shot.
Cove had another scare with half an hour gone when Connor Duthie headed over from six yards.
The visitors failed to heed these warnings and they fell behind five minutes from the break when Morgyn Neill was harshly judged to have barged MacLean and Carswell rolled home the resultant penalty.
Cove came back out swinging and five minutes into the restart Ramsbottom had to move sharply to push away an Iain Vigurs free-kick.
The equaliser was only a minute away with Paddy Boyle penalised for handball after a long delay, and the intervention of an assistant.
McAllister did an immaculate job and three minutes later Cove led when Ramsbottom pushed a Blair Yule cross into the path of Scully who stabbed home.
Scully blasted a great chance over with 17 minutes left and shortly afterwards McAllister scooped a Vigus pass into Ramsbottom’s arms.
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They were to be expensive misses as referee Muir pointed to the spot again with five minutes left when Fyvie was judged to have gone in in high on Paul Paton.
Carswell ignored strong protests before firing home, leaving a disconsolate Scully to add: “I thought I was going to be the match-winner and that has not happened since our Highland League days.
“I took my goal well and I should have had another but the ball bobbled up just before I hit it.”
Hartley said: “We were not at it in the first half but we were terrific in the second. We should have been going home with the three points. It was never a penalty kick.”