ABERDEEN'S plans to reclaim their place at the summit of the Scottish game remain on course.
A week today, in excess of 40,000 of the club's supporters will converge on the East End of Glasgow for the League Cup final, and this nervy, low-key, but nonetheless deserved win means the club's first cup double since the heyday of Sir Alex Ferguson in 1986 continues to be a very real possibility. The Curl Aberdeen curling club are sure to give their full attention when one of their own, Winter Olympic silver medalist Greg Drummond, makes the semi-final draw after events at Ibrox this afternoon.
Aberdeen have gone 24 years without a Scottish Cup final win, but they weren't the only team at Pittodrie trying to recapture a glorious cup heritage. While this was the furthest Dumbarton had gone in this competition for 36 years, they did actually win it back in 1883, not to mention finishing runners-up five more times before the end of the 19th century.
Manager Ian Murray, a cup final loser in his first stint at Hibernian, found a place in his line-up for Mitch Megginson, who ended six years at Pittodrie last summer, but there was no sign of one of his closest pals.
Peter Pawlett, whose clincher at Celtic Park was named goal of the previous round, didn't even make the match squad due to a knock picked up against St Johnstone, although manager Derek McInnes is hopeful he will the League Cup final against Inverness.
A hearty support travelled north from the banks of the Clyde, but their day almost took a turn for the worse within seconds. Shaleum Logan's cross caught Dumbarton captain Andy Graham on his heels and his panicky clearance went narrowly beyond Stephen Grindlay's post.
Soon, though, it was the Championship outfit threatening, left-back Scott Linton sashaying past two men although he couldn't get his effort on target.
Barry Robson, lining up on the right, was his team's most promising outlet, and he was involved in Aberdeen's best chance of the half. Jonny Hayes dug out a great cross, and Grindlay produced heroics to block his close-range header, then claim the ball on the line again after it had ricocheted off a backtracking defender.
Another Robson effort, this time a low drive, billowed the Dumbarton sidenetting, and young Cammy Smith saw a snap shot deflected wide.
Jamie Langfield has been a key component of Aberdeen's league and cup successes this season but, with anxiety starting to settle around the ground, there were a few moments yesterday where he threatened to live up to his "Clangers" nickname. After a couple of errant first-half kick-outs, he caused near apoplexy when fumbling a Mark Gilhaney cross. Russell Anderson's clearance spared the blushes.
Dumbarton came out after the restart determined that this would be their moment, not Aberdeen's. Some fine work from Colin Nish led to a deflected shot from Scott Agnew, which Langfield gratefully clutched, then the same man tested the keeper again with a low shot from distance. A breakthrough was imminent but unfortunately for the Sons of the Rock, it arrived at the other end.
Smith harassed Linton sufficiently to earn the gift of a corner, and from Robson's pinpoint delivery the hitherto quiet Adam Rooney moved well to head in his sixth goal in the eight games since he arrived from Oldham Athletic. The ground let out a collective sigh of relief, although a near post Anderson header from an identical Robson corner which flashed wide really would have allowed them to relax.
Nish hirpled off, the first of a damaging raft of enforced Dumbarton substitutions. Ryan Jack struck a post and Grindlay saved a Hayes shot, before the obligatory chance arrived for the wee club to take it to a replay. A lovely Garry Fleming cross was perfect for the arriving Paul McGinn, but John and Stephen's brother could only head it into the ground and over the bar.
"Paul's devastated but I know, as a full-back, that headers at the back post in the Scottish Cup aren't our strong point," said Murray. "Of course he'll be gutted because he's not often on Sportscene. He'll have to watch that miss and his brothers will give him stick, but overall it was a fantastic performance from him."