Dunbar United goal hero Scott Gibson hailed his goalkeeper John Johnstone for sparing his blushes as the Seasiders all but secured promotion to the Premier League.
Defender Gibson almost went from hero to villain in this crucial top of the table clash. The experienced centre back nodded his side in front late on only to conceded a penalty just minutes later but, thankfully for him, Johnstone spared him the wrath of his team-mates and manager Geoff Jones.
The three points denied already-promoted Blackburn the chance to win the title in their final game of the season. Dunbar just need a point from their last two matches to secure the championship and promotion to the Premier League for the first time. Only two losses and an 11-goal swing would deny the New Countess Park club a rise to the second tier.
“I was absolutely shattered after scoring,” said Gibson. “I went up for the corner and I scored. Then we got another corner and I was like ‘I’m not going up, I’m too tired.’
“Then for the penalty, I expected my team-mate to win it, but the ball was knocked on and the guy just used his experience and got in front of me and I fell down on top of him. The referee had been moaning all day about putting my hands on top of him. Big Jinxy pulled us out the bag with a great save – I was delighted.
“We knew it was going to be a hard game and they expected to come down and win it. We heard all the rumours about what they were doing in the evening with parties organised. We just wanted to spoil their wee party. Whoever scored was going to win the game and fortunately we got it.”
The 31-year-old former Musselburgh and Newtongrange centre-back doesn’t know if he will continue playing next season. He might hang up his boots in the summer, but he’s certain that Dunbar have the foundations in place to one day become a Super League club.
He continued: “I’m not sure if I’m staying next season. I want to win the league and then take a couple of weeks to think about what I’m going to be doing. There’s a good bunch of lads here, it’s a great set up and we are more than capable of being a Super League team. We are going to build for next year to be a middle-to-top team in the Premier League.
“All season, we’ve had a real camaraderie about us. We’ve built up a bond and that kind of got us through the whole game. It wasn’t the greatest game and we didn’t actually play that well, but we worked really hard.
“We feel confident we are going to take a point at least from our last two games. No disrespect to Livingston but we’ve played harder teams and we expect to win next week. I’m sure we’ll get it in the bag.”
With so much riding on the match, it was predictably a cagey affair with neither side over-committing too much.
Dunbar had the better chances in the first half with Chris King coming close with two free-kick opportunities but neither goalkeeper was overly troubled.
The home side upped it a gear after half-time and marauding left-back and captain Steven Tait wasn’t far away after a surge up the left flank.
Darren Handing, brother of Hibs midfielder Danny, got a header on target for Dunbar after great work from the impressive Chris Grant, who outstripped Ross Williamson before crossing in.
The goal arrived 12 minutes from time with King crossing to the back post where Gibson got on the end of it and sent a looping header over goalkeeper Gavin King.
Just minutes later, though, he brought down striker Andy McQuillan in the box but Craig Young was denied from the spot by the feet of Johnstone. The keeper went on to make a string of saves as Blackburn pushed for a leveller but fell short.
Dunbar United: Johnstone, Kean, Tait, Gordon, Gibson, Moffat, Ingram, King (Smith), Ballantyne (Young), Handling, Grant.
Blackburn United: King, Williamson (Cormack), Herriot, Mildren, Drummond, Spence (Fleming), Donnelly, Young, McQuillan, Campbell, Marshall.