The Bully Wee recorded a fine win over Stranraer this afternoon, following an entertaining IRN-BRU Third Division match at Broadwood.
The conditions in Cumbernauld were as good as could be hoped for in February and, to their credit, both teams took advantage of that to produce a very watchable game of football.
Jim Duffy had to be creative with his team selection before kick-off, as Bryn Halliwell and Ross McMillan joined a lengthy injury list. Pat Scullion joined Ally Park in a makeshift defence, with Charlie Miller and Iain Gray coming into midfield. JC Hutchison replaced Halliwell between the sticks.
As the action got underway, it was the visitors who took control of the early exchanges and scored after just six minutes. Craig Malcolm pounced on a loose ball in the box and Hutchison couldn’t stop his low drive going under his body and into the net. Minutes later, Armand One had a great chance to double the Blues’ lead, but he put his header off target.
A fine solo goal by Marc McCusker then changed the flow of the match. Clyde’s top scorer muscled his way into the box and was closed down by away ‘keeper Mitchell, but the ball squirmed loose and McCusker was able to stab it home from his position on the ground.
Following the equaliser, the Bully Wee started to dominate play and continued to do so up until the half-time break. Kevin Finlayson saw a great effort turned onto the post by Mitchell and, just before the interval, a moment of class by Charlie Miller gave John Stewart a great chance to score. However, Mitchell was on hand again to make a good stop from the striker’s effort.
Stranraer looked to press forward as play resumed for the second half but it was Clyde that scored a crucial second goal. McCusker fed Stewart and just as he was about to pull the trigger he was pulled back by Paul Murphy. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and showing a red card to Murphy. McCusker stepped up to coolly score his eleventh goal of the season.
The visiting ten-men didn’t think twice about committing men forward in search of an equaliser and the tactic paid off ten minutes later. It seemed inevitable that the giant One would put a header on target at some point and he looped one past Hutchison to make it 2-2.
As the match continued to be wide open and move from end to end, the Bully Wee bounced straight back into the lead. A clever free-kick by Miller allowed Stewart to float a ball into the box and Pat Scullion dived to power a header into the bottom corner of the net.
It always looked as though Clyde could take advantage of the extra man to clinch the victory and they did so on 83 minutes. Ryan MacBeth was able to deliver a cross from the right and sub Ricky Waddell made no mistake with a close-range header, rounding off a fantastic team performance and result.
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