DUMBARTON manager Stevie Farrell admits it’s no coincidence his side are turning into a tough nut to crack as he continues to welcome key players back to full fitness.

Sons recorded their second clean sheet in a row on Saturday in a goalless draw with Stenhousemuir, following up on a 2-0 win against Bonnyrigg Rose last weekend.

His troops were slightly unfortunate not to earn all three points against the Warriors, who were forced to put the champagne on ice as their title celebrations were postponed for another week.

Mark Durnan came closest in the opening stages for Dumbarton when he prodded the ball just wide from close range with the hosts coming close to winning it in the second half when Tony Wallace’s back-post header was kept out by the legs of Darren Jamieson.

Faz was able to call upon first choice centre-back pairing of Durnan and Sean Crighton for the first time since October after consecutive injuries had prevented the duo from playing beside each other.

Dumbarton still have work to do when it comes to securing a play-off spot as they are currently six points clear of East Fife with five games to go, but the Sons boss believes if his side keep doing their bit they will be just fine.

Speaking after the match, he said: “We’ve had a look at the stats, and they back up how we thought the game went; we had the better of the possession, chances, more corners and were generally on the front foot.

“Stenhousemuir defended really well on a couple of occasions with Tony Wallace’s header and there was a stramash where they were throwing their bodies in front of goal.

“We’re a wee bit disappointed not to win it but overall I was happy with how we played. 

“Any team that loses Mark Durnan and Brett Long is going to be impacted, it’s no coincidence that with Mark back in the side that we are where we are defensively.

“It’s not just the back four, we look solid and the structure looks good. We don’t look like we’re going to concede a lot of goals.

“We’re not giving up a lot of chances – Stenny only had one shot on target so we aren’t giving up a lot of chances and that’s going to bode well for us as the season progresses.

“Big players are coming back at a good time so touchwood they can continue to stay healthy and we can continue to build a wee bit of momentum.”

The game was heated in the first-half with both sides looking committed to the task in hand of earning three points, with one flash point in particular arriving on the stroke of half-time.

Finlay Gray capitalised on a poor kick from Warriors' keeper Darren Jamieson and raced towards goal as Sons had a 3 on 1 advantage in the final third.

He looked set to play in teammate Michael Ruth, only for former Dumbarton skipper Gregor Buchanan to take him out from behind and a free-kick was awarded.

Sons were wanting the current Stenny captain to see red but he was issued a yellow card which Faz believes should have been more.

He commented: “My view of the incident was simple – people were saying he should have gone but he should never have went for being the last man because he wasn’t, but where he caught Finlay was around about his knee.

“If you come in from the front and catch a player on his knee, you are getting sent off so what is the difference in coming in from the side or from behind?

“That was my only issue and I asked the referee that, and he still hasn’t given me an answer.

“Finlay is marked just behind his knee so Gregor was well off the ground.

“I don’t blame him for making the challenge because it was an old professional making a professional challenge, I would have done the same, but I probably wouldn’t have tried to catch him as high as he did.

“It’s the inconsistency because I think if that’s from the front he has a problem but because it’s from the side he hasn’t sent him off.”

Dumbarton travel to Station Park this weekend to take on Forfar Athletic.