Dumbarton will not be appearing in the Irn-Bru Cup Final for the second season in a row as they were knocked out of the competition at the second hurdle by Montrose.

Craig Johnston’s first half header was the difference between the sides at the C&G Systems Stadium as Sons were eliminated with a whimper.

It was announced just before kick-off that former Morton Assistant Manager Craig MacPherson had joined the Dumbarton coaching team.

He joined Ian Durrant in the dugout as Stevie Aitken took in the first-half from the stand.

Sons have toiled in the league with a number of injuries hampering Aitken’s side and the gaffer was forced into making several changes due to injuries and players being cup-tied, as Cammy Ballantyne, making his first start since the opening day of the season, came into the side along with Stuart Carswell, Calum Gallagher and Ross Forbes.

The visitors started the game stronger but didn’t put Grant Adam in the Sons goal under too much pressure.

A quick counter from Dumbarton saw Montrose having to concede a corner, but that was about as good as it got for the home support.

The Gable Endies would take the lead after 19 minutes as Graham Webster had plenty of time to float his cross onto the head of Johnston and his header was emphatic.

Sons would have to wait until the 40th minute to get a decent chance under their belt, but Rory Loy headed right at the visiting keeper.

The best chance was on the stoke of half-time as Gallagher cut in from the left and aimed for the bottom corner from 12 yards, but was denied by Jordan Millar who pushed the ball clear of danger.

In the second half there was more for Sons to get excited about, in particular the link-up play between Ballantyne, playing against the side he featured for last season, and Forbes.

The ex-Montrose man did well down the right hand side before playing in Loy, but the man who has scored goals throughout his career looked short of confidence as he chases his first Sons goal, and rushed the shot, making it easy for Millar.

Forbes then had a couple of efforts from range with a free-kick flashing wide of the post, and a terrific strike from 25-yards crashing off the outside of the post and away.

Aitken changed his strikeforce midway through the half with Andy Little and Iain Russell replacing Gallagher and Loy.

Sons continued to push forward but weren’t creating any clear cut chances, until the final five minutes.

Ballantyne’s quick throw in gave Forbes time in the box, and he poked the ball towards goal for Russell, but a terrific challenge prevented ‘Beanie’ from scoring his second goal in the Irn-Bru Cup this season.

From the resulting corner, Millar was caught out of position and Little headed for goal, only to see his effort clip the crossbar and go over.

Little was at the centre of attention again just before the 90 minute mark as he went down under pressure from a visiting defender, but referee David Munro awarded the ex-Rangers man a yellow card for simulation.

That would be all there was time for, and next week sees Montrose back for the second game in a row as League One action returns.