Mark McLaughlin shared the frustration of his team-mates and Clyde supporters following last Saturday’s home defeat at the hands of Queen’s Park.
Speaking to the official website, the experienced defender admitted that not being able to try to put things right at the weekend added to that frustration:-
“I would have rather been straight back into it at the weekend to be honest. Breaks haven’t helped us so far this season – we’ve been getting a bit of momentum and then a wee break and it is hard to get back into it.
“Obviously the match was really disappointing. It wasn’t a lack of effort – the boys came off the park shattered – but we were all just disappointed that it didn’t fall for us on the day.
“You’ve got to give Queen’s Park a bit of credit, they came and sat in and got us on the counter attack but it was a poor goal to lose from our point of view. After that they just sat in and made it hard to break them down and we fell into their trap; trying to get the ball forward when we should maybe have played a bit more football and tried to get the ball wide into areas where we could hurt them.
“They sat deep with six or seven men behind the ball, probably more at times and we started playing long balls, as you do when you are chasing games, particularly in a derby match. You tend to start pumping balls into the box and hoping the ball falls to the striker or one of the midfielders and you get a chance, but unfortunately it didn’t happen for us.”
Despite his frustration, the 40-year-old defender believes the game could have been very different had he or a team-mate been able to open the scoring.
Marko continued: “We had chances before they scored. I had a great chance with a header that I should have scored with and that would have changed the complexion of the game. I think in this division if you get the first goal it is massive because teams then open up and that is when we seem to punish them, so it is all about getting that first goal and taking that chance.”
The result moved Queen’s Park up to second place, behind current leaders Elgin City. However, The Bully Wee sit just six points off top with two games in hand and McLaughlin is certainly up for the title fight:-
“It’s not going to be easy – winning a Championship never is. Everybody, from the players through to all of the staff knew we had a chance to put a statement out against our rivals and a team that is going to be close to us come the end of the season, so it was frustrating but we now need to bounce back, as we have done in the past.
“People wrote us off eight or nine weeks ago then we put a good bit of form together and now we’re close to the top with games in hand so there is everything to play for. The league is really tight but, at the halfway stage, we aren’t far away from the top so we now need to push on again.”
Supporters at the Boxing Day game at Annan witnessed the majestic sight of McLaughlin turning back the years with a lung-bursting run down the left wing, reminiscent of a young Marko during his first spell at the club. The defender admitted that he had taken stick from some of the squad for it but, despite turning 40 last month, he insists he still feels as fit as ever:-
“I don’t know what happened with that run – it felt good going forward but coming back was hard!
“The boys gave me plenty of stick for it. I had to either kick the ball away with nobody around me or try going on a run but, as I say, I’m still getting abuse for it, particularly from Shuggy Murray but he winds me up most sessions. He’s a great lad around the dressing room and absolutely hilarious. He’s off his head and as soon as he walks through the door he’ll be singing ‘The Bully Wee’. The place would certainly be a lot quieter if he wasn’t here!”
“But in terms of fitness, I don’t feel any different from how I felt 10 or 15 years ago. However, recovery wise it is harder and can take an extra day or two to get your fitness and sharpness back. I think playing part-time helps with that though.
“We’ll see what happens this season and whether or not I continue playing after that, but while I’m here and playing it’s good for my fitness and good for the heart!”