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St. Johnstone 1 v 2 Clyde

Match Type: Scottish Championship
Venue: McDiarmid Park
Date: Tuesday, 25th March 2008
Kick Off: 7:45pm
Attendance: 1,686
Referee: E Smith
St. Johnstone


St. Johnstone   Clyde
(61) Wilson Bradley (30)
  Albertz (51)

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St. Johnstone   Clyde
Main Hutton Yellow Card
Irvine N McGregor
(87) Sheerin B Gibson Yellow Card
(50) Cameron Higgins
Yellow Card Rutkiewicz Bestvina
McManus Bradley
Wilson M McGowan (76)
Craig Ruari MacLennan
Milne Clarke
Moon Arbuckle (81)
(88) Weatherston Albertz (71)
(87) Hardie Smith (71)
Cuthbert Cherrie
(50) MacDonald McKay (76)
(88) Anderson McCusker (81)
Monaghan Masterton

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by David Worton

Clyde's impressive away form continued last night with a vital win over St. Johnstone that finally lifts the Bully Wee out of the playoff places.

Once more, the team saw several changes in personnel, with Chris Higgins and Pat Clarke returning after suspension. Kevin Bradley and Gary Arbuckle also came into the side, with Billy Gibson moving into the sitting role in midfield to accommodate a change to the 352 system that has worked so well in recent years.

The home side were missing numerous first team players through injury and for once, Clyde looked like the side that had a good understanding as they dominated the early stages of the game with Gibson particularly prominent in keeping possession. Both of the early efforts on goal were from Jorg Albertz free kicks. The first crashed past the post, whilst the second was deflected wide off of a defender's arm and the referee missed the chance to award Clyde another set-piece.

St. Johnstone threatened sporadically and from their first neat move, Kevin Moon had the chance to shot from the edge of the box, only to be denied by a superb block from Neil McGregor. The Clyde skipper, returned to his sweeper role, was to produce many such moments of quality in the game.

At the other end, a superb move between McLennan and Michael McGowan ended with Gibson being played into the box. He dummied and cut inside the defender before firing in a powerful left foot drive that Alan Main did well to punch clear.

Although Clyde has struggled this season, they have taken the lead in a fair proportion of their games, including all three previous encounters with the Saintees. On this occasion, a goal was coming and it was no surprise when Kevin Bradley gave the Bully Wee a deserved lead. Chris Higgins won a header and the ball fell to Gary Irvine, St. Johnstone's right back. He inexplicably played the ball straight to Bradley and the young wingback fired home a low shot past Main for his second goal in Clyde colours. Ironically, his only other strike was a cross-cum-shot versus the same opposition earlier this season.

This livened up the home side to some extent and they were gifted a chance to level almost immediately. A floated cross into the box ended up with both David Weatherson and Steven Milne hitting the ground and the referee awarded a penalty for one of the two foul challenges. Fortunately for Clyde, Paul Sheerin skied the spot-kick at least a foot over the bar; his second consecutive miss from the 12-yard mark.

With Clyde content to defend deeply until the interval, all further efforts were from distance. Milne fired over the bar when well placed and Kevin Rutkiewicz produced a speculative effort from 25 yards that David Hutton saved well. Gibson then became the first player to be booked for a deliberate handball and from the resulting free kick, Hutton produced a stunning fingertip save to keep out Liam Craig's thunderbolt.

Clyde began the second half aware that they had thrown away leads on their two previous visits to McDiarmid Park and that a second goal would be crucial. After five minutes of scrappy play, Pat Clarke was fouled on the edge of the box and both sets of supporters anticipated another rocket from Albertz. After a pause of around three minutes to allow the Greg Cameron to be stretchered from the pitch after a collision with the German, it was almost expected to result in an anti-climax. However, his powerful drive deflected off of a St. Johnstone player into the net and the small band of Clyde supporters erupted at the possibility of an unexpected victory.

For the first time in the match, St. Johnstone started to pile on some pressure and remarkably won a second penalty when Hutton fouled Milne. The Clyde 'keeper was booked but made amends for his error as he dived to his right to save Liam Craig's poor effort.

After defending admirably for the first hour of the game, the Clyde rearguard let themselves down as St. Johnstone finally scored from a corner; Craig's outswinger being powerfully met by Barry Wilson's header. This was to cause a consistent wave of pressure and Milne twice missed sitters from inside the six yard box.

In a bid to alleviate the pressure, Albertz and McGowan were replaced by Christian Smith and David MacKay. Fortunately, the Bully Wee were able to occasionally break forward using the pace of MacKay, Bradley and the hard-working Arbuckle and give the defence a well deserved breather.

Arbuckle was then replaced by Marc McCusker and the on-loan Hearts player could have extended Clyde's lead. Pat Clarke pulled a low cross into the box and Rutkiewicz produced a vital touch to nick the ball away from McCusker's swinging boot.

The final chances fell to St. Johnstone and Smith made a crucial block to deny Peter McDonald. The impressive Moon then had a chance from 6 yards but McLennan superbly blocked on the line. The desire of Clyde's players to throw themselves in front of the ball throughout the game was key in taking the three points.

Overall, it was a scrappy, battling display with a lot of luck thrown in. However, St. Johnstone were previously unbeaten at home this season and any sort of win at McDiarmid Park should be applauded. The return of the pacy Arbuckle, Bradley and Clarke made a huge difference and McGregor was outstanding in his favourite sweeper role, ably supported by Higgins and Gibson. If Clyde can maintain the level of commitment and desire that they showed in this game, relegation may yet be avoided.

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