A WAIT of more than three years for a competitive goal finally came to an end for Haddington footballer Danny Handling at the weekend.

And his effort helped his club Dumbarton FC to their first cup final in more than 100 years.

Handling scored a wonder goal in his side’s 2-1 Irn-Bru Cup semi-final win over Welsh side The New Saints (TNS) on Saturday evening.

The previous time that Handling found the net had been for Hibernian FC against Alloa in the SPFL Championship on December 13, 2014.

Injury problems have curtailed the 24-year-old’s career. A serious knee injury forced him to sit out the entire 2014/15 season, while the following campaign saw Handling struggle to break back into the Hibs first team.

He left the Capital side last summer and, after a brief loan spell at Raith Rovers, Dumbarton came calling and the former Knox Academy pupil snapped up the chance to head west.

He has battled knee problems since joining the Sons, a pre-season injury forcing him to have surgery.

Handling revealed this week that there were doubts over whether he would play at the weekend due to TNS’ artificial pitch.

He said: “I wasn’t sure if I was going to play or not. The gaffer told me last Saturday how bad the pitch was so we were being cautious because we didn’t know if playing on astroturf would be good for me.

“The gaffer and Durranty [assistant manager and former Rangers player Ian Durrant] have been brilliant with me. They understand what I’m going through and Durranty had a similar sort of injury, so he was probably having the same sort feelings and fears.”

After breaking his 1,162-day wait for a goal by curling a superb strike from the edge of the box into the top corner for the equaliser, Handling said it was a “special feeling that I won’t forget for a long time”.

He added: “My brother [Darren, who plays for Dunbar United] said he had a tear in his eye when he saw me celebrating.

“My celebration wasn’t planned, it was more instinctive. I was so passionate and so happy to score to get ourselves back into the game. I’ve had bad injuries and bad luck in football but I would say it was more to do with the atmosphere and the passion of the fans who turned up from Dumbarton that made me celebrate so much.”

Manager Stevie Aitken said: “It’s been a frustrating time for him and us because we brought him in from Hibs and he got injured in the first game against Kilmarnock.

“It’s been a slow process trying to get him back up to speed but when you want quality you can see that he has it. He kept the ball really well for us and it was a terrific goal.”

Dimitris Froxylias’s free-kick six minutes from time completed the comeback in Wales and put Dumbarton into the final on March 24, where they will meet fellow Championship side Inverness Caledonian Thistle at McDiarmid Park, Perth, home of St Johnstone FC.