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Ross County 3 v 2 Clyde

Match Type: Friendly
Venue: Victoria Park
Date: Saturday, 17th July 2010
Kick Off: 3:00pm
Ross County
v
Clyde

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by David Worton

Clyde supporters had their first opportunity to see this season's squad in action as the Bully Wee made the long trip north to Dingwall to take on Scottish Cup finalists Ross County.

The side lined up in the 4-5-1 formation used by the majority of World Cup sides this summer, with John Stewart as the lone striker. The midfield was flanked by Kevin Finlayson and captain Adam Strachan, whilst Connor Stevenson, Hadyn Cochrane and John Sweeney formed the central trio. J.C. Hutchison started in goals, behind the centre half pairing of Ross McMillan and Murray Henderson. Ex-County player Graham Girvan began at right-back, with Neil McGowan on the left.

The home team contained most of the side that began the Scottish Cup final in May, albeit without their most creative players in Iain Vigurs and Michael Gardyne. Indeed, they were both missed as Clyde dealt comfortably with the home side's attacking threat throughout. After a scrappy first 10 minutes, it was the Bully Wee who settled down better and Stevenson in particular passed the ball around with some authority. The first real chance in the game fell to Cochrane but following a neat passing move, he saw his shot blocked out for a corner by Gregerson.

Despite several spells of tidy passing the only real attacking threat was predictably coming from Strachan and it was from him that the opening goal originated. The winger was fouled near the corner flag by Gary Millar and from the resulting free kick an unmarked Henderson thumped home a close range header.

Sadly, the lead was to last just a couple of minutes and the equaliser could also be attributed to poor defending. Paul Lawson swung over a corner kick and Scott Boyd rose highest to flick home a header.  Remarkably, before the break the trick was repeated and this time it was Andy Barrowman who thumped home with no Clyde player near him.

County's extra quality, combined with a high level of work-rate from Clyde meant that very few other chances were created throughout the first half. Stewart worked hard but had little service and Millar attempted to remedy this at half-time by withdrawing Cochrane and introducing Marc McCusker. There was also a change at right back where Ally Park replaced Girvan.  The substitutions almost made an immediate difference as McCusker raced past Gregerson, only for Boyd to come across and block his shot out for a corner.

The game as a contest was ended soon afterwards as County netted a third. Marc Corcoran had threatened with his pace throughout and from his cross into the box, McGowan could only divert the ball into his own net. Corcoran perhaps should have extended the lead further with a volley that was well parried by Hutchison. This heralded a series of substitutions for both sides with Stuart Mills, Iain Gray, Bryan Dingwall and a trialist coming on for Stewart, McGowan, Stevenson and Strachan. There was also a change in goals with Jordan Allan replacing Hutchison.

Clyde did manage to gain a consolation goal in the last couple of minutes as a County move broke down in midfield. McCusker was fed the ball and after holding off Boyd, sliced a looping volley over McGovern.

It is always difficult to make an assessment of a team's prospects based solely on pre-season matches. There is little doubt that County were nowhere near their top form but there were some positives. Hutchison looked confident, Stevenson had a good first half, whilst there is enough about the defence to suggest they'll be solid if they practice set pieces. However, a strengthening in the middle of the park is required to overcome combative midfields, as well as a further injection of attacking flair to take some pressure off of Strachan.