Dumbarton FC boss Stevie Aitken paid tribute to the hundreds of supporters who made the 290-mile journey to Shropshire to witness the Sons book their place in their first major cup final in 121 years.

Around 500 of the club’s faithful watched on at the Park Hall Stadium in Oswestry as the side came back from behind to claim a dramatic 2-1 win over Welsh champions The New Saints (TNS) in the semi-final of the Challenge Cup.

Aitken hailed fans for sticking by the club through thick and thin and expressed his delight at being able to repay their loyalty at the end of an emotional day for the club.

He said: “First and foremost I’m delighted for the supporters that came here in their numbers. It shows you how much it means to them, we’re a small club, we compete against full-time teams in the Championship and it’s always difficult to compete against them.

“We can go on runs of games where we don’t win but they stick by us, and I think that victory there was for all the supporters. They’ve been great and I’m just delighted we topped it off with two fantastic goals.”

The travelling fans were, however, made to sweat after the Welsh team took the lead on 50 minutes when Dean Ebbe capitalised on a mistake by Sons keeper Scott Gallacher.

But their disappointment soon turned to hope as Danny Handling kick-started Dumbarton’s comeback in 74 minutes, bagging his first goal for the side since joining from Hibs in the summer to level the scores.

And with five minutes to go, victory was sealed as Dimitris Froxylias stepped up to rifle in a 25-yard free-kick into the top corner – sparking scenes of jubilation among the Dumbarton support.

The win is momentous for the club, but also ranks highly for Aitken as a manager.

His Stranraer side lost on penalties to Livingston in the 2014 semi-final, so the Sons boss is ecstatic to have a crack at winning a first piece of silverware for himself and the club.

They will face Inverness Caley Thistle in the final on the weekend of March 24/25, after the Highland side beat Northern Irish team Crusaders on Sunday, with an exact time and venue still to be confirmed.

He added: “As a manager it’s the first time I’ve got to a final. I’ve got to the semi-final with Stranraer before but this competition is getting harder with the teams they’ve brought in.

“TNS are a fantastic team. You can see that by the way they knock it about.

“They play in Europe and they win games in Europe, so that shows you how hard a task it was. We had to work hard.

“I’m delighted for the players because they’re the ones week-in week-out that are competing against these big clubs. They don’t always get the credit they’re due but, hopefully, this performance will get them it.”