Clyde retained their First Division status for another season after goals from Gary McSwegan and Pat Clarke gave the Bully Wee a comfortable win over Airdrie United at Broadwood Stadium, becoming the first team from the First Division to survive the dramatic playoffs.
Airdrie were without injured defender Bobby Donnelly and chose to move striker Bryan Prunty into the wide midfield position, with Stuart Noble moving up front.
Despite a good victory in the first leg, Clyde chose to make two changes, with Michael McGowan and Gary Arbuckle dropping to the bench; McSwegan and the returning Neil McGregor came into the starting line-up.
Despite leading from the midweek tie, Clyde looked to go forward from the start of the match and Pat Clarke was first to test Stephen Robertson with a powerful drive from 20 yards which the ‘keeper did well to tip past the post. The home supporters then looked forward to a Steven Masterton free kick as Billy Gibson was fouled but the Airdrie wall stood firm and the ball deflected past for a corner.
Both sides were hurried in possession and a scrappy first half was a result but Clyde almost took the lead with the best effort of the opening period. Ruari McLennan picked up a loose ball, spun in the box and his low drive looked set to curl into the bottom corner, only for Robertson to superbly tip the ball away.
After this, Airdrie took charge of possession but similar to Wednesday night, they failed to show the urgency or creativity needed to break down a decent defence. Star striker Alan Russell, who is set for a move to the SPL with Kilmarnock, came close with a neat flick at the near post that went straight to David Hutton and just before the interval he had their best chance of the two legs but his poor first touch took him too close to Hutton, who saved well. Sandwiched between them, a superb break by Clyde saw Jimmy Gibson burst through the middle of the pitch before squaring to McSwegan but his shot was weak and straight at Robertson.
As half-time came, the Clyde supporters worried about Airdrie’s increased level of possession but the fears of relegation dissipated somewhat after the break, with an early strike easing the Bully Wee’s nerves. Chris Higgins cleared the ball up field and the bounce beat both Pat Clarke and Paul Lovering, running perfectly for McSwegan to poke home past Robertson. McSwegan was soon replaced by Gary Arbuckle; the standing ovation he received just reward for his influence in Clyde’s relegation battle.
Airdrie tried to fight back and when Prunty picked up a loose ball in the box, he appeared to be fouled by Higgins as he tried to make his way to the bye-line. Referee John Underhill waved away the Diamond’s protests and angered them further as Higgins was twice more involved in incidents with Noble later in the half but those claims were rightly turned down.
Clyde’s pace on the break continued to pose a threat and a header from Clarke almost provided the crucial two-goal cushion. The ex-Cowdenbeath striker wasn’t to be denied his now expected goal and when it came, it was well worth the wait. McLennan and Billy Gibson engineered space down the right wing and when the cross came into the box, Clarke acrobatically volleyed home an overhead kick.
With the tie over, Clyde were content to continue hitting on the break and Kevin Bradley cut inside Darren Smith, only for his curling drive to be well stopped by Robertson. Clarke then engineered himself a chance by robbing an Airdrie defender of possession but somehow blasted over the crossbar from 6 yards. At the other end, Russell came close with a free kick that Hutton saved comfortably but the away side were clearly deflated by the second goal and their challenge predictably fizzled out.
Over the two legs, there is no doubt that the better side won. Apart from the chance on the stroke of half-time for Russell, Airdrie failed to create any good chances over the two legs and despite some neat passing football, Clyde dealt with their weak attack comfortably. As for Clyde, it was pleasing to see a team showing some fight and confidence and although some people would argue that the bottom two sides in the division should be relegated, the Bully Wee did well to take advantage of the opportunity presented to them.
|Date||Time||League||Season||Full Time||Attendance||Report Author|
|May 10, 2008||3:00 pm||Scottish Championship||2007-08||90'||2548||David Worton|