It was an evening fixture but this was daylight robbery. St Mirren may have been wearing the vertical black and white stripes but Clyde were wearing the horizontal version of stripes with ski masks too. Clyde were so poor it got embarrassing but they hung in and snatched the only goal near the end. I’ve said it before, but we can’t put the ball in the net for other teams. Saints had to do it themselves and despite dominating the game they failed to convert a single chance and paid the price. Both teams came to this match with poor scoring records and so it proved.
Clyde’s line up hardly looked geared to attack and without Ross, McLaughlin, Keogh and Hagen it was down to the bear bones again. The obviously not match-fit Grant found a place on the bench again. Dunn held the left side with De Gregorio and Mitchell was running the right hand side. Smith was preferred to Millen as sweeper and Millen was handed a free midfield role.
It began well enough with Hinds quickly cutting back for McDowall to fire just wide. Mensing and Mitchell were doing well enough down the right but midway through the half it was all St Mirren. They forced numerous corners with the Clyde defence never looking convincing in clearing. Walker came close, and from another Gillies’ shot was turned away by Halliwell. Clyde had little to offer in response and couldn’t retain the ball for any length of time. Millen escaped from a good penalty shout against him and McGarry somehow tapped the ball into the arms of Halliwell when scoring looked easier. Half time couldn’t come soon enough.
Given the stretched resources Clyde didn’t change things at half time. St Mirren proceeded to dominate the opening 20 minutes of the half as they piled on the pressure. Clyde had nothing to offer in response as they lined up in 2 banks of 4 to try and stem the tide. Clyde adopted the unusual tactic of giving Quitongo as much room as he liked and the wee man eventually frustrated himself out of the game with some poor and selfish finishing. Midway through the half Clyde eventually broke out and things opened out for Mitchell in front of goal. With only the keeper to beat he blasted straight at him. The game was getting stretched now but St Mirren always looked the better bet to make something happen. Halliwell had another full length stop as it seemed St Mirren must break through. Then with 10 minutes to go the ball was played up to Hinds. With his back to goal and one defender to turn, it looked like his kind of situation. On the edge of the box he turned his man and fired the ball into the corner of the net for a wholly unexpected lead. Convery, who had replaced McDowall by this stage, soon nearly doubled the lead with a fine drive.
Clyde hung in and snatched a victory but if they play this way against Forfar or Gala Fairydean in the next round they will be slaughtered. All the plaudits must go to the defenders (at times all 11 of them!). Strangely, despite the embarrassment of possession, Saints didn’t force Halliwell into many clean saves. They’ll moan about the referee and bad luck but they simply couldn’t put the ball in the net – which despite all the lead up play is what the game is all about. Changes will have to be made if we hope to do anything against Airdrie on Saturday. All power to Big Boomer on his 100 appearance for the Bully Wee.
|January 8, 2002