Temple Of Saints - Saints OutClass Clyde

Bells League Division One 10/03/2009

Clyde 1 Saints 3 - League Table Here

Team : Main, Irvine, Byrne, Mooner, Rutkiewicz, Caff, Swankie, Millar, Savo, Barrett, Sheerin
Subs: McLean, Garters, Craig, Holmes, Peaso

Broadwood at times feels like some isolated outpost in a third world wasteland. Always cold and / or wet and usually a depressing place to watch football, not least because of the fare served up on the park. For tonight's encounter we had some additions to the "why the bloody hell do we bother" category for making the trip to Cumbernauld. Recent performances haven't exactly set the heather on fire (cue usual jokes about damp squibs) and to add insult to injury the Bully Wee had decided to jack up the prices by another couple of quid as they tried to fleece some money out of their relegation battle - of course it was only sheer coincidence that they announced this just before Saints, the Pars and Scumdee paid their ground a visit.

But leaving that aside, there's no doubt that the real worry amongst the faithful that did make the trip was the form shown by Saints of late. Too many draws and (just as importantly) a lack of goalscoring chances, never mind goals, in our last couple of games meant that "Oh When the Saints" looked set to be replaced by the Queen and Bowie classic "Under Pressure" whenever we took the field.Tonight was a chance to make amends for a couple of shocking performances but more importantly than entertaining the fans, we were now into the realm of the must-win games if only to ensure that the chasing pack could feel a little bit less optimistic about their chances going into the closing quarter.

For Clyde they were buoyed by their "derby" win (surely a breach of the Trades Description Act) at Firhill although the three points had more to do with the lack of friction on the Partick pitch than any real skill. They'd been under pressure of a different sort over the last couple of weeks with the increased possibility they'd join the race to see which club could go to the wall first. Still if you need to get the fans back jacking up the prices might just work!!! Our recent record at Broadwood meant more cause for concern and as shown by our draw there last time round, the games between the sides this season have been close affairs.

Come full-time though and the large Saints support were smiling once more (and not just at a certain media personality's Pearly King outfit) as Saints went out tonight and showed what we were capable of. From the start we passed the ball well, played it on the deck, created loads of chances and should have romped home before a daft slip-up let Clyde back into the game. But take nothing away from the lads tonight - to a man we fought and showed the sort of spirit that wins games and titles. Tonight was a big step forward and if we were under pressure before kick-off, the pressure has moved to the other sides in the table.

Del was forced into some changes with Sammy missing out thanks to a dead leg and Martin Hardie receiving a sugar injection. Peaso was still suffering from a knee injury which didn't help matters although of the three he at least made the bench. Del was also under some pressure to ensure that we didn't have to endure another ninety-plus minutes of the ball being humped up the park towards man-mountain (and just as mobile) Derek Holmes. Pre-match it seemed popular opinion was to rest the big man and play Savo alongside Graham Barrett but Del's own comments hinted that he was only concerned with the service Homer was getting. As it was though Savo and Barrett went up front while Richie Byrne returned to the left- back slot as Liam dropped to the bench. For Clyde, Pat Clarke was suspended so that was one major goal threat removed although the thought of Wullie McLaren meant that the Saints defence would be trying to keep him at arms length if only for the hygiene side of things.

Saints started the game as if they still had a firework up their arse from Del's post-match comments on Saturday. Within the first minute a throw-in almost found Millar in the box before the Clyde defence cleared the danger. Swankie sent a good cross over to test Hutton. The Saints winger was up -ended on the left touchline in the third minute but the freekick was too easily cleared. A minute later another foul on Swanks (who seemed to be getting picked on a fair bit) ended in another freekick this time though we managed a decent shot in from the left by Swankie which was deflected into the keeper's arms. Even then the pressure didn't ease up and Swankie won a 5th minute corner that seemed to be headed off the post before the one -man Swankie show tried another cross that Barrett headed straight at the keeper.

Just to show it wasn't all Swankie the rest of the Saints midfield were chipping in their own contributions. Millar had a good run in the 7th minute that ended in a cross over for Sheerinho. He passed it into Barrett but the striker headed over the bar. Still the idea that we'd had more shots on target in the first five minutes than in the previous two games was enough to give us some hope. Clyde's early attacks were limited to a couple of crosses that Main easily held and another bit of almost self-destruction as Caff sclaffed a ball and allowed MacLennan in for a shot but Main was there to clear the danger. After the early excitement, the game began to settle down a bit. Saints weren't creating too many chances in the box but we were dominating the play and had Clyde on the back foot for most of the game.

With quarter of an hour gone another good passing move involving Sheerinho and the impressive Mooner and Millar only lacked a final ball in the box. The referee wasn't helping matters much with some poor offside decisions as the quick-witted Barrett was continually caught offside. Midway through the half and Swankie released Barrett into the box but his shot from the edge of the area went just wide. A minute after that and Mooner was the provider with a neat pass but despite cutting in past the full-back Barrett's cutback was easily cleared. Mind you we weren't helped by Brines in a more physical way as a brilliant break from defence through Mooner and Millar was rudely interrupted by the referee's arse getting in the way - and no we weren't laughing.

Millar had a good run ended by a Tade foul in the 29th minute followed by Barrett being fouled. The freekick from Swankie though was only headed behind Hutton's goal. Main had to gather a blocked clearance from Gemmill but apart from that Clyde were about as likely to threaten as John Brown's raincoat being seen on the Milan catwalks next spring.

With 32 minutes gone Mooner had a great run through the middle before his shot was blocked. He was quick to react to the rebound though and played the ball over for Irvine coming in from the right and his cross found Barrett who turned well but shot wide. Three minutes later and a good low pass from Rustybitz (as solid as a brick shithouse at the back) found Barrett who linked with Sheerinho to lay the ball off for Savo but his low shot was a weak effort and easily held.

No complaints seven minutes from the break though as another good ball from Mooner found Byrne running up the left wing. His cross went straight over to Irvine who laid it back for Millar. Chris in turn passed it onto Mooner who chipped it into the box for Savo and he turned on the angle to send the ball low into the net. One-nil and you could see the spirits lifted. A minute later and we nearly doubled the margin as Sheerinho (showboating all over the place) set up Millar. He tore up the right wing skinning a Clyde defender before playing a neat cutback for Savo but his shot was deflected and spun just wide of the goal. The corner ended up with a powerful Rustybitz header going wide. The confidence was flowing through the side like Buckfast down McLaren's gullet and some of the play was a joy to behold as Clyde looked shell-shocked.

After the half-time fashion parade amongst the celebrity Saints (some of whom even interrupted Peaso's warm-up to involve him) the teams took the field once more with Clyde making two changes at the break. But Saints started where they left off and within a minute of the restart the smiles got even wider. A move on the right saw Rustybitz forward and he set up Millar who chipped the ball forward into the box where Gavin "No more Hiding" Swankie appeared. He seemed to be about to be closed down but full credit to Swanks as he turned on the ball, skinned the defender and from 15 yards out fired in a cracking low shot past the flailing Hutton to make it 2-0. They could make a movie about comebacks like that.

Two minutes later and Rusty set up Swankie who crossed from the left but the defender got in just in front of Barrett. Swankie was fouled on the edge of the box next as he got caught up in the thick of the action. Sheerinho's freekick into the box was headed across the goal to no avail. Clyde broke up the park but SuperSwanks was there faster than a speeding bullet to get the tackle in, turn and set up Barrett on a counter which ended up in us winning a corner. That's the perfect example of the sort of adventurous responsible play that we were crying out for recently. The next clear chance for Saints came in the 52nd minute as Swankie won another corner. That ended up with Sheerinho playing the ball back in for it to be headed behind for another corner. This time though the inswinger was met perfectly by Rustybitz only for his bullet of a header to be cleared off the line by a Clyde defender who couldn't have seen the ball coming and luckily for them Hutton eventually gathered the ball. Pity really - it deserved a goal.

Irvine had a cross for Barrett cleared by a defender as Saints continued to dominate the game. Clyde's sub picked up the first booking of the game for a nasty challenge on Rustybitz that thankfully saw the Saints skipper alert enough to leap clear before he suffered any real damage. We had a couple of runs but with just over 25 minutes remaining we conceded a soft corner. And worse was to come as from the corner the defence failed to deal with the loose ball and it was somehow scrambled into the net. A bad goal to lose and arguably one Main should have come for and taken when it first came over. That saw the old nerves return to the travelling support but despite the setback and the boost it gave to the home side, it was good to see that the Saints players kept their heads.

Clyde did have some pressure and McLaren tried his luck from distance (well he's used to that since the girls don't let him get any closer) but it sailed well wide. Clyde were certainly dangerous on the break and at times the Saints defence was being worryingly stretched - a point Rustybitz made to his colleagues rather forcefully after he cleared another loose ball. But the main thing was that we weren't losing our shape as we've done in the past. Sheerin, Moon and Millar were all passing the ball about well and both Savo and Barrett were still showing plenty of pace up front.

Homer eventually came on to replace Barrett with quarter of an hour left but thankfully we didn't go straight to the long ball game. With the game entering the closing stages, Saints and the fans began to show a bit more confidence as we looked to add to our tally. The challenges were going in heavily as well with Savo on the end of a nasty one from behind and another high foot catching Rusty on the chest. Liam came on for Swankie with eight minutes left and a minute later Mooner was the first Saints player booked for persistent fouling. The freekick ended up in the Saints box and landed at the feet of the Junkie but his shot went over the bar.

We kept chasing the game though and with five minutes to go Liam crossed for Savo but he was unable to make room on the turn. Two minutes later and there was more controversy as Millar made a great run into the box only to be upended. Cue Brines rounding off another crap performance as he booked the Saints player for diving - although somehow he still let Hutton take a freekick when the ball had gone behind. Clyde took the play up the park and forced a couple of freekicks but Homer and Rusty were there to do their hoof-the-ball party trick. And then the piece de resistance as the final minute saw us get a throw-in on the right. It was played to Millar and he cut in before crossing the ball over. It was headed down but only to Liam and while his shot was deflected good ole Savo was there to poke the ball in from six yards. "We are Unbeatable" was suddenly the song to sing!!

Peaso replaced Savo as we went into injury time but there was no further action and the full-time whistle saw cheers from us and just as good to see was the applause from the players for the fans who made the trip through. There were no real failures in the side tonight with Ruti and Caff solid at the back, the midfield as mobile and creative as we've seen at any time all season and in Savo and Barrett we had two hard-working strikers who created plenty of chances and in the former's case scored a couple of goals. MoM for me though had to come from midfield and while Swankie's goal and all- round play was as good as we've seen I think he's just edged out by Mooner who's hard work created the first goal and put in a hard shift all over the park tonight. Del knows what this team is capable of now - all we've got to do is keep it going for another nine games.

Tonight might have been a decisive moment in the season. As the song says "We Are Unbeatable"


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LEAGUE TABLE

Team P W D L F A Pts
Saints 27 12 12 3 38 27 48
Partick Thistle 28 13 5 10 33 29 44
Livingston 28 11 5 12 47 47 38
Scumdee 26 10 8 8 23 23 38
Morton 28 9 10 9 31 31 37
Queen of the South 28 9 9 10 39 35 36
Dunfermline 25 10 5 10 35 32 35
Ross Co 26 10 4 12 31 34 34
Clyde 28 8 7 13 33 43 31
Airdrie United 28 6 11 11 23 32 29

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