Any Dumbarton fans who were dreaming of an unlikely late push for the promotion play-offs were given a harsh reminder that the battle against relegation is a very real, and more likely, scenario as bottom placed side Stenhousemuir won 2-1 at The C&G Systems Stadium on Saturday.

David Marsh and Connor McBrearty had the visiting side two ahead before Craig Barr pulled one back for a flat Dumbarton side in the closing stages – but there was to be no equaliser.

Sons were dealt a cruel blow in the build-up with Stuart Carswell being ruled out of the game. The makeshift centre-back was replaced by Ryan Thomson, although Carswell is expected to be fit for the visit of Airdrieonians on Tuesday night.

Dumbarton perhaps didn’t start the way they might have liked against the division’s bottom side but were given a terrific chance to go ahead after 10 minutes as Calum Gallagher sent Dom Thomas through on goal, only to see Warriors keeper Graeme Smith block his effort.

Michael Paton then did well to turn on the right and deliver a teasing cross to the back post for Bobby Barr, but it couldn’t be turned goalwards.

The Warriors began to take control as the half went on, and the visitors took the lead on 27 minutes when Marsh got on the end of a set-piece and headed past Grant Adam in a busy penalty area.

Sons couldn’t create much more before the break and Jim Duffy made a change at half-time to try and find a way back into the match, with Boris Melingui replacing Michael Paton as Gallagher moved out wide and the substitute partnering Thomas in attack.

Melingui, who would go on to be named man of the match, threw himself about straight after coming on, as the home supporters were encouraged by his early efforts.

Dumbarton controlled the ball for much of the half, but didn’t create as much as they would have liked with the Stenny defence reacting quickest when Thomas’s shot was fumbled by Smith.

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Thomas had another effort, but this time missed the target just after turning his man smartly just past the hour mark.

On 72 minutes it appeared to be game over for the hosts when McBrearty robbed Forbes in the middle of the park, and despite the best efforts of the Sons skipper and two defenders to recover possession, the Stenhousemuir man saw his shot from the edge of the area trickle into the bottom corner of the net.

Melingui had a shot beaten away and Thomas dragged an effort wide as Sons pushed forward before Craig Barr pulled a goal back with five minutes to go when his effort was deflected into the net.

In added time the hosts could have grabbed an unlikely, and undeserved, equaliser, but Smith pushed away Forbes’ effort, then made a fine stop to deny Melingui who had met the rebound.

There was to be no equalising goal and Dumbarton next welcome Airdrieonians on Tuesday night and Brechin City on Saturday as they bid to avoid being sucked further into the relegation battle.