by Alan Henderson
Given the events of the last six months, every Clyde fan must have approached this game with a degree of trepidation. How would Clyde perform with a new Manager and a recast team? In the end Clyde scored the vital goals but didn't enjoy much possession. This was a performance all about heart and it provides a huge boost to our collective confidence.
Fans were disappointed to hear that trialist Valois was not in the line up. That left five players making their league debut for Clyde. The most interesting move was to play Arbuckle in a wide right role to add to the attacking options from the following team:
Mensing, Potter, Balmer, Bollan
Arbuckle, Gibson, Sheridan, Fotheringham
(Subs: Doyle, Gilhaney, Greenhill, McKeever, Morrison)
The game began in a very disjointed fashion with neither team able to build anything of note. Thistle were the first to settle and began making inroads down the Clyde left to the extent that everybody was being sucked towards that side often leaving Mitchell with time and space to get shots away.
Hinds too was working hard around the box but as we all know he and Mitchell are good players but they are not the most clinical of finishers. Shots were either straight at Halliwell or over the bar.
Clyde were finding it hard to hit their rhythm but breaks and shots from Wilford and Harty at least gave cause for optimism. Clyde then carved the best chance so far with Arbuckle and Wilford linking well at the edge of the box. Arbuckle was clear with only Arthur to beat but the keeper pulled off a good save to turn the ball around the post.
The goal wasn't long in coming though and arrived in strange circumstances. A Clyde move appeared to have broken down and the ball fell to Sheridan who chipped the ball back into the box. Thistle ran out leaving Harty in glorious isolation to the extent that everybody stopped for a moment expecting an offside. As our pictures show, the striker kept his cool and slotted the ball away.
The expected fightback from Thistle never really materialised and Clyde scored a second just before half time. Wilford showed some skill in his own half and sped towards the Thistle goal. He then exchanged a number of passes with Harty in the box until Harty fed the ball across the goal for Gibson to tap in.
Clyde didn't make any changes at the interval and in blazing sunshine a Thistle onslaught was expected. Clyde saw out the first fifteen minutes fairly comfortably with only Mitchell causing any harm but it soon became clear that Clyde's forwards were wilting in the heat.
Halliwell pulled off one great save from a shot from the edge of the box as Clyde fell back on their own box. Thankfully Thistle decided to make it harder for themselves with a stupid sending off, as Dowie decided he would tell the Referee how to run the game.
After being shown a yellow card he couldn't resist another debate and was off.
The question now was did Clyde have the energy levels to take advantage of an extra man? The answer was no, but Thistle despite dominating possession weren't really troubling Halliwell that much. The giant One was introduced and thankfully for Clyde he displayed the skill and vision that are normally associated with such big players.
Then with Thistle out of ideas, the home side decided to gift them a goal. Clyde did a series of backward passes from the Thistle half until Potter mucked up the crucial one back to Halliwell. Escalas pounced and it was game on.
As Thistle poured forward this at least allowed Clyde some time and possession once they got the ball and Gilhaney was brought on to stretch them. Sadly Jimmy Gibson had one lunge too many and was red carded as well.
In the end it was Gilhaney that had the last chance of the match as he out fought Murray for a through ball but could only weakly lob the ball over Arthur giving the keeper plenty of time to recover.
After an endless spell of extra time the points were Clyde's.
Clyde showed great heart and resilience on the back foot. We can score goals too but other teams with better finishers will hurt us if we concede that much possession for lengthy spells.
Fans should note that the starting eleven and the bench yesterday are what Billy is working with. There is no depth in the squad and Gibson's suspension will hurt us. Still it's a wonderful start to the season and the confidence is high.
Clyde Star Ratings (*****)
Halliwell ***** Hesitant start but otherwise confident and cocky too!
Mensing **** Had a tough time with Mitchell but kept his cool.
Bollan **** Steady start from the experienced man.
Balmer **** Showing much more desire now the real stuff has started.
Potter ***** Big mistake but otherwise led by example.
Sheridan **** Covered every blade of grass for the jersey.
Arbuckle **** Very assured league debut for the young man.
Gibson ***** At the heart of things but daft sending off ruined his day.
Wilford **** Confident game but needs to work on fitness.
Harty **** Ran his socks off and seems no doubt he's up for it.
Fotheringham **** Another player who showed great desire and industry.
Gilhaney *** Revelled in the space but needs to show more strength.