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Alloa 0 Dumbarton 1: Cup win overshadowed by draw with heavyweights

IT did not take long for Scott Agnew's statement to come back and haunt him.

The Dumbarton midfielder emerged from a raucous dressing room at Recreation Park on Saturday, tearing himself away from scenes of jubilation to talk of a team which holds no fear for what may lie ahead.

"I don't think there's any team we want to avoid," said Agnew after his side reached the quarter-finals of the William Hill Scottish Cup. "We're going into every game with great confidence."

What a difference a day can make. Just 24 hours on from that 1-0 win over Alloa Athletic and Agnew's care-free comment, the opportunity of progressing even further in the tournament took a fair dent as the SPFL Championship club drew the short straw in the form of favourites, Aberdeen. While it was far from the tie Agnew would secretly have been hoping for, there was little evidence to suggest that their best run in the Scottish Cup in 35 years is going to grind to a sudden halt without Dumbarton putting up a fight.

In blustery Clackmannanshire, Ian Murray's part-time side turned in a professional job, Colin Nish's solitary goal proving enough to see off the meagre threat posed fleetingly by their hosts. Yet the scoreline failed to offer an accurate reflection of how comfortable this game was for Dumbarton. Not only did Scott Linton hit the crossbar from 30 yards, but Chris Kane also missed from the penalty spot.

Apart from a late rally inspired by substitute Eddie Ferns, who should have done better when clean through in the latter stages, Dumbarton's safe passage was rarely in danger.

"It's not bad for a part-time team," said Agnew, still riding on the high of winning four and drawing two of their six games this year. That form has propelled Dumbarton to within three points of a promotion play-off place and into the last eight of the Scottish Cup.

"I think this is the furthest I've ever gone [in the cup]," he added. "The manager and Jack Ross [Murray's assistant] spoke about how this is the furthest the club have been in the cup for years and that it's a chance to go and achieve something big."

Saturday's defeat has become part of an ever-murky cloud which hangs over Recreation Park these days, although the home side would still be able to see a silver lining. Alloa have not won since December 17, with Paul Hartley's departure last month having failing to lift the gloom as the club slipped to within five points of the relegation play-off place.

Yet Barry Smith, Hartley's replacement, believes a focus on league matters may be beneficial if they are to avoid the drop. "I don't think there was much in the game," he said. "We did have chances and we can take positives from that. There's a lot to work with in that dressing room."

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