|(37) Howarth||Molloy (84)|
Clyde picked up their second home win in a row after another battling display against a Stenhousemuir team that played the majority of the game with just 10 men. After a weekend off last week, the Bully Wee were able to recall Marvyn Wilson to the starting line-up in place of Jay Lang. More of a surprise was the inclusion of youngsters Steven Howarth and Connor Cassidy in the side, replacing Paul McLeod and Connor Stevenson who dropped to the bench. The changes saw Willie McLachlan move into the centre of midfield and Cassidy make his debut on the left of midfield.
The match started in competitive fashion and a busy afternoon for referee Colin Brown was to begin with a booking for Wilson after a very late tackle on Pat Scullion. From the resulting free-kick, the ball was comfortably cleared but Paul Stewart appeared to suffer a bang on the head. Perhaps this affected him as a poor pass towards Mark Casey soon afterwards sold the defender short and led to Casey being the second player booked in the first 10 minutes. Clyde’s first effort on goal then came from Wilson who moved onto Ally Park’s blocked shot, neatly beat a defender and fired a left foot drive just over the bar.
Clyde’s disciplinary problems are well documented but Stenhousemuir’s record is just as bad. The one thing that they lacked this season was a red card and that all changed just 16 minutes into the game. Howarth did well to win the ball back but his back-heel to Stewart lacked any pace and gave Steven Thomson the chance to intercept. Sadly, the defender chose to lunge in with a cowardly two-footed tackle and Mr Brown instantly flashed the red card. From the resulting free-kick, Alan Lithgow had a good chance to provide a double blow to the Warriors but he bounced an effort past the post from 10 yards. Almost immediately, Stewart, suffering from both of his injuries, left the field to be replaced by Alan McFadden.
The controversy continued as Wilson, who had already given away a couple of fouls since his yellow card, blocked off the advancing Kevin Motion. Within seconds, Lang was ready to come on and perhaps sensibly, the substitution was made. Robert Halliday then increased the referee’s workload by picking up a yellow card for persistent fouling, albeit the offence which finally induced the booking was innocuous to say the least. After all this, the players perhaps needed a reminder that a crowd was waiting to be entertained and Clyde took the lead with a simple goal. McFadden was fouled by Motion whilst challenging for a high ball and from Lang’s resulting free kick, Howarth poked home a first senior goal. The young striker had looked lively throughout and had already had a couple of efforts blocked before his opener.
Clyde predictably continued to have more of the possession but Stenny could have levelled soon after the Bully Wee took the lead. A corner to the edge of the box found Craig Molloy and his chipped shot cracked off the cross bar before being cleared. The final chance of the half fell to Howarth who fired a shot just inches away from the inrushing McFadden following some neat play between Willie Sawyers and the recently booked McLachlan.
The second half began with another booking, this time for Stenhousemuir’s Iain Diack after his angry reaction to a refereeing decision. Halliday then did well to beat a couple of players on the left and after his cross was cleared, Howarth fired in a volley that was comfortably held by Chris McCluskey. However, whether it was tiredness or nerves, Clyde started to struggle to retain possession and the away team started to miss a series of glorious chances. Lang’s swipe at the ball in midfield gifted the ball to the away team and from Craig Molloy‘s pass, Diack produced a tremendous save from the previously underworked Calum Reidford.
A potentially crucial moment occurred in the 65th minute as Halliday went to close to Willie Lyle for the referee’s liking and a second yellow card was issued. There is little doubt that the Stenny right back made the most of the incident. Molloy was next to come close with a close range volley that was somehow tipped over the bar by Reidford before the ‘keeper excelled himself in another one-on-one with Iain Thomson.
Somehow, Clyde then appeared to seal the win after a remarkable minute of action. Sawyers appeared to be fouled whilst challenging for a high ball but the hit-man played on and slipped McFadden through on goal, only for the pint-sized winger to hit his shot straight against McCluskey. The ball was swiftly punted to the other end where ex-Clyde man Kevin Bradley was only just beaten in a race by Reidford. Remarkably, Park then lofted the ball up to McFadden who with time to pick his cross out planted a perfect delivery onto Sawyer’s head and the striker did the rest.
Although that should have been game over, Stenhousemuir unbelievably managed to finally score in comical fashion. A cross from Thomson was, as expected given their previous efforts, thumped against the crossbar by Diack. The loose ball dropped to Molloy 8 yards out and his weak header didn’t appear to pose any threat, only for Reidford to stumble at the crucial moment and the ball to drop into the net. Despite another few anxious moments, especially when Craig O’Reilly appeared to be through on goal only for him to be crowded out, Clyde held on for a vital win.
Make no mistake about it; Clyde were lucky to take three points from this game. However, for once they were the team that took the big chances when they came along and the front pairing of Sawyers and Howarth looked lively throughout. Perhaps it’s a sad indictment of the quality of the division that if you manage to net twice, the opposition are unlikely to match you even if you gift them a host of chances.