Clyde succumbed to a late Saints winner and their first league defeat since Saints turned us over back in November at Perth. Clyde had clawed their way back into the game twice but Bernard’s header left little time to perform an escape act. Despite 5 goals neither keeper was really tested in the rest of the game and Clyde in particular seemed to lack the drive that could have earned them a win.
Clyde continued with the experiment of playing McCluskey at right back and Mensing on the left. The opening fifteen minutes saw little action in either goalmouth as neither team could find a cross into the box of any note. Then after 20 minutes Saints won a corner. With big Mixu, Weir and Maxwell they were not without physical presence in the box. The corner was fired towards the near post and everybody missed it leaving Donnelly to sweep the ball in from point blank range. Saints gave Clyde a bit of the run-around for the next few minutes but then Clyde struck back. Mensing spotted Harty breaking down the right and fired a long diagonal towards the striker. Harty made towards the line and fired the ball across for Smith to tap in from a couple of yards out.
Given this was a top of the league clash the opening fifteen minutes of the second were dire as niether team was able to keep the ball or mount a meaningfull attack. Then Saints won a corner and scored a virtual carbon copy of their opening goal. Again Morrison and his defenders couldn’t deal with a ball right on top of them and Donnelly was there to stab the ball home again. Clyde responded by going to 3-4-3 and replaced McCluskey with Keogh. Minutes later Gilhaney replaced Smith and soon after Clyde were back on even terms again. Gilhaney found plenty of space on the left and his cross saw Keogh cushion a header over the keeper and into the net. It all looked set for Clyde to mount a grandstand finish but instead they switched back to 4-4-2 with Fotheringham replacing Marshall and signallining a point would do. So it seemed until the 88th minute when Saints came down the Clyde right. Kernaghan got pulled out of the box and was easily beaten. The resultant cross was headed into the bottom corner of the net by Bernard leaving Clyde down and out.
A win for Clyde would have virtually ended St Johnstone’s interest in the league but now they have a carrot. Clyde were poor for large parts of this game and goals apart found it hard to pressurize the Saints goal. Still, the blip was coming at some time and now the challenge is to get right back on track.
STAR RATINGS *****
Morrison ** Suspect for first and second goals.
McCluskey ** Not really a right back and gave away a lot of possession.
Mensing ** Struggling again with passing and form.
Kernaghan *** Given a hard time by Mixu and went awaol for the winner.
Ross *** Quiet game and no trademark surges.
Hagen ** Hardly put over a cross all game.
Marshall *** Some nice touches but failed to penetrate.
Smith *** Fine goal and put in a good shift.
Gibson *** Struggled to find his passes but battled away.
Harty *** Clyde’s only threat up front and chased everything down.
Keogh ** Fine goal to mark his return.
Gilhaney ** Might have been used earlier to better effect.
Fotheringham * No time to make an impression.
ALAN KERNAGHAN – "Stupid defending has cost us all game really, especially from set pieces. I don’t think Allan has had a save to make barring the three goals. It’s a frustrating day to say the least.
"We did the hard part twice and I made a mess of it at the end. The players are very frustrated but it is only one game. We’d have much preferred not to have lost it but we have and we’ll get ready for Wednesday now.
"Whether beating them would have killed them off or not I don’t know but a point would have been more helpful to us.
"I’m frustrated but I’m not down in the mouth at all. We have to look at the big picture and not get carried away with one poor result.
"One of their players said something to one of ours in the tunnel but I don’t think there was anything much in it. There ended up being a mass of bodies involved but no punches were thrown I don’t think – we’ve got no fat lips anyway! It was all split up and nobody was called into the ref’s office."
|March 6, 2004