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St. Johnstone 1 v 3 Clyde

Match Type: Scottish Championship
Venue: McDiarmid Park
Date: Saturday, 20th March 2004
Kick Off: 3:00pm
Attendance: 3,512
St. Johnstone
v
Clyde

Hide Match Report

by Alan Henderson

LINE-UP

Halliwell

Mensing McCluskey McLaughlin Fotheringham


Ross Gibson Marshall


McConalogue Harty Smith

SUBS: Doyle, Morrison (Halliwell 42), Keogh (Smith 64), Hagen (McConalogue 45), Gilhaney.

St.JOHNSTONE: Cuthbert, Robertson (Parker 73), McQuilken, Vata, Weir, Maxwell, (Forsyth 80), Donnelly, Reilly, Paatelainen (Hay 45), Bernard, McLaughlin. SUBS NOT USED: Dods, Nelson.

REPORT

Those who travelled to Perth with a degree a trepidation and an eye on a draw needn't have been worried as Clyde cruised to one of the most important wins of the season. With Saints thinking they were back in the hunt for the title Clyde handed them a massive blow. From the off it was clear Clyde were up for it as everybody played their part in a convincing victory. The only low point was Halliwell's injury sustained when he pulled off a fine full length save.

Clyde began with an attacking but flexible 4-3-3 formation. Fotheringham continued at left back and Marshall, Gibson and Ross buzzed around midfield. McConalogue was introduced from the start in an attacking front line with Smith and Harty. Clyde pressed from the first whistle and earned their reward after only 10 minutes. With everybody watching Smith, McCluskey and McLaughlin at the front post a deep corner found McConaloge unmarked at the back. He controlled his volley and drilled it through a ruck of players into the net. Saints were finding it hard to get into their stride as Clyde pressed the midfield and tracked back. Everything was eventually aimed at the head of Mixu Paatelainen and McLaughlin was coping well enough. Mensing made a howler coming out of defence though and presented the ball to Saints' Brian McLaughlin. He cut inside and shaped a fine curling shot towards the bottom corner until Halliwell tipped it around the post. The keeper was injured around his ribs and took a while to recover. Clyde went straight back up the other end and claimed their second goal after 30 minutes. In heavy traffic Harty decided to go straight through them but then deftly laid the ball into the path of Smith. He made no mistake inside the box and drilled the ball through the keeper. Halliwell couldn't continue so Morrison got an unexpected start as Clyde closed out the half with relative comfort.

Clyde replaced McConalogue with Hagen at half time as they reverted to a more defensive 4-4-2. In fact it seemed Clyde hadn't switched on for the start of the second half as Saints pressed. However Clyde always looked dangerous on the break. Clyde's day was confirmed when Maxwell crashed the ball off the underside of the bar and the Saints' shoulders noticeably drooped. Their passing began to fall apart as the pressure told and gaps began to appear at the back. Keogh replaced Smith as the big man ran out of steam. With 20 minutes to go it was no surprise when Harty grabbed a third goal. A straightforward long ball put him away from Maxwell and Weir and the striker took his time before placing the ball past the keeper. Clyde had other chances on the break but failed to take them. Annoyingly Clyde switched off in injury time and a poor lay off from Keogh put Parker through and he drilled the ball into the corner of the net. Then with about the last kick of the game Hay hit the post as Clyde were panicking at the back. It was a shame to end on that note but a fine victory had been secured.

Everybody played a significant part in this victory. The defence looked secure apart from injury time and Ross appeared back to his usual energetic self. Up front Smith and Harty worked tirelessly and put in great shifts tracking back as well. This game was a huge confidence booster just when we needed it most.

STAR RATINGS *****

Halliwell *** One fine save then injured.
Mensing **** Mostly very solid and composed.
Fotheringham **** A welcome addition on the left.
McCluskey **** Got stuck into the unglamorous work.
McLaughlin **** Got his head to most things in the middle.
Ross **** Chased and got forward a lot more today.
McConalogue *** Fine goal and gives another option.
Marshall **** Bit more bite today to go with his skills.
Smith **** Great shift up front and at the back too.
Gibson **** Good blend of grit and passing skill.
Harty ***** Worked his socks off for the team and always a threat.

Morrison ** Not much to do really.
Keogh ** Still needs to sharpen up.
Hagen *** Closed the opposition down very well.

REACTION

ALAN KERNAGHAN - "I enjoyed everything about the day. Everyone showed up with their best game. I think we dominated things pretty much from the first whistle apart from for 5 or 10 minutes after we scored when they had a spell. In the second half we defended deep and invited pressure but we were able to hit them on the break.

"The 3-2 game was possibly in the players' minds and certainly they were very pleased at the end. It's an important three points but not something that we live the rest of the season on. It's very important that we get back to work on Monday and get the heads screwed on again.

"We went 4-3-3 really just to try and get St.Johnstone to change because we knew they'd been playing three at the back. It paid off for us. I don't want to single anyone out, but the three lads in midfield and Andy Smith put in a terrific shift today. They were the catalyst for us.

"I just heard John Robertson on the radio and he said the conditions at his match were impossible, so that's unfortunate for them but we'll take all the help we can get.

"I've tried telling the players that the paper talk has nothing to do with them and that they have to just keep on playing. There was good news from the consortium and the Supporters' Trust this week and they are doing all they can to meet all the SPL rules. I think they are quite ahead in those plans and that can only be good for us.

"I can do nothing about the SPL vote. It's being dealt with by the people who are in charge, who are doing a great job. If I was to worry about it I would have a heart attack and I'm only 36.

"The gathering at the end was also because of what happened at Broadwood in the tunnel. The referee had told us that there were more police present so from a responsibility aspect that was the least I could do.

"We've always been in a decent position but, at the risk of sounding boring, there are still 8 games to go and they will all be as crucial as it was today."

BILLY STARK - "We lost a bad goal early on and Clyde are the type of side who make it really difficult for you when you go behind against them. They played the game quite cleverly today.

"Their keeper has pulled of a great save from McLaughlin and their second goal was another poor one from our point of view again. We've got them on the back foot in the second half and if the shot that hit the bar had gone in then it would have been a whole different scenario. Having said that, we've lost a really poor third goal - it was just a kick up the park and the wee boy has run on and scored. Once that's gone in the game looked won for Clyde.

"Clyde are a good defensive unit and they just sat back and played off us, which turned out to be the right tactic for them.

"Clyde are in a good position but there's 24 points to play for and we have to keep going. We'd all love to be in Clyde's position but, as was proved today at Ayr, every game is very difficult. Nobody is giving up here that's for sure."

STUART MCCLUSKEY - "It's a good three points for us. I think we had to win today or get some kind of result after a few poor results, although I thought we played well at Inverness.

"I thought the boys took their goals well and once you are two goals up you can defend it.

"Any defeat is hard to take and the 3-2 game was no different, but I think there was a bit of an edge on today's match because of it.

"The boys don't really know what is going to happen with the club and we're just concentrating on the football side of it. It's just the way football is going; it's not the same as it was 4 or 5 years ago.

"We're in a good position but there's a long way to go. Maybe if we're in the same position with three games to go we can start getting excited."

SIMON MENSING - "It was an enjoyable game and a good performance by the lads but the be all and end all is the result and we're delighted with that.

"I've not had the best of seasons, it's been a bit up and down but hopefully I'm starting to come good now. It would be easier to be settled in one position but I'm more than happy to do a job anywhere in the back three.

"I'm definitely looking to keep today's form going right through to the end of the season, as are all the boys really. This is the most important time so we'll make sure we do that."

PICTURES

TOP: Stephen McConalogue scores the first goal.
MIDDLE: Andy Smith slides goal 2 under Cuthbert.
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