On paper this looks like a comfortable 3-0 win for Glenafton, but this incident-packed game was a lot closer than the score suggests as Dunbar responded valiantly to a first-minute sending off for Darren Gillon.
The midfielder was harshly dismissed for his tackle just seconds into this encounter and Glenafton made them pay with goals from David Gray, Chris Dallas and Darren McGill.
Dunbar manager Geoff Jones lamented his player’s recklessness, but also the performance of the officials – referee Stewart Luke ended up leaving the pitch with an injury – and a disallowed goal for his team.
“I’m really annoyed at Darren for getting sent off so early,” said Jones.
“We had a game plan and all that changed when he made that tackle.
“The referee didn’t help us either because it was a soft red card, but for a 20-minute spell we were all over the place.
“Overall the players did a great job in fighting back and we should have had an equaliser just before the break, but without a proper linesman we feel the sub referee made the wrong decision.”
It was always going to be a hard task for Dunbar against a team two leagues above them and it was made even tougher by Gillon’s dismissal, although it was the first tackle and the red card was harsh.
Glenafton took advantage and opened the scoring in the 15th minute with a superb free-kick from Gray. Then, on 20 minutes, referee Luke pulled up with a torn hamstring. He couldn’t continue and as play was held up for ten minutes, it was eventually decided that a neutral flagman would run the line only, with linesman Calum Doyle taking over in the centre.
The long delay helped Dunbar and they had the ball in the net just before the break, but crucially the referee blew for offside in the half where there was no official linesman.
Dunbar took the game to Glenafton after the break and were the better side until just after the hour mark when they conceded a penalty. Substitute Dallas stepped up and converted easily. Still, Dunbar pushed forward and created several good chances without success. Then, with 15 minutes to go, tiredness took its toll as substitute McGill headed the third.
Dunbar will take a lot from this game. They played some terrific football and if they had kept 11 players on the pitch, the result could have been different.
Dunbar: Johnston, K Tait, S Tait, Gordon, Gibson, Moffat, Gillon, King, Young, Ballantyne, Handling. Subs: Devlin, Grant, Smith, Kean, McCathie.
Glenafton: McGarrity, Orsi, Cairns, Menzies, McChesney, Marlon, Borris, Gray, McCann, Andrew, Lynes. Subs: Dallas, Carter, McGill, Potter, Watson.