Bobby Linn believes Arbroath will come back stronger next season after agonisingly missing out on the Championship play-off final.
Trailing 2-1 after last Wednesday’s first leg defeat at Gayfield Park, Arbroath travelled to Dumbarton knowing only a win would suffice.
The visitors were in the ascendancy after Gavin Swankie cancelled out Dougie Hill’s early opener but they failed to find the elusive goal despite dominating proceedings with more than 70% possession.
Linn said: “I felt we had enough to win today, especially with our good away record but we have just come up short because we didn’t have enough in the final third. This season just sets the bar for next season, we have to try aim higher because the boys will come back hungrier. We will go away over summer and come back looking to push on next year.”
The visitors started slowly and were punished when Dumbarton doubled their aggregate advantage after only nine minutes.
After David Hutton had tipped over a looping Andy Stirling shot, Tom Walsh’s corner was met emphatically by Hill who headed home.
Sons wasted chances to kill the contest before Swankie levelled on 27 minutes.
The 34-year-old striker pounced on a poor passback by Sons captain Andy Dowie and prodded the ball past Scott Gallacher.
Arbroath tried valiantly in the second half but failed to create any clear-cut chances although Linn believes it’s still been a great season, adding: “It can’t take away from the season that we’ve had. We got promoted and we’ve kicked on and it was a credit to the players for even making the play-offs.
“Since the play-offs came about we all wanted to go up. I can’t tell you what the manager thinks about staying in the league; they weren’t nice words. The manager is a winner, he wanted to win the league but we got to the play-off although we’ve come up just short.”
Ryan Wallace had two low efforts saved by Gallacher before Tam O’Brien’s looping header bounced off the top of the bar but Arbroath were left to rue conceding an injury time goal in the first leg.
Craig Barr grabbed a 94th minute winner for Dumbarton on Wednesday night and Linn accepts that’s what ultimately scuppered Arbroath’s promotion hopes.
“It’s shown how vital their last- minute goal in the first leg was and how you can’t afford to lose concentration. It was really deflating.”