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Clyde 1 Montrose 2

Scottish Professional Football League
League 2
Tuesday 23rd September 2014

Montrose Football Club went into their second away game within four days hoping to continue their winning ways on the road after the success at Elgin City. Opponents Clyde are always a difficult side to face at Broadwood and they were coming off the back of a heavy home defeat last Saturday so had a point to prove although they had a couple of key absentees from their line up. Montrose started with only one change from the Elgin game with Craig Bell coming in to replace Stephen Day who was absent due to work commitments.

The Montrose lined up with trialist Lucas Birnstingl in goal, he retained his place in goal with the available again Stuart McKenzie on the bench. Back four was Masson, Crawford, Campbell and Robb. Across the middle were McCord, Deasley, Watson and Bell with Harkins and Wood again up top.

McKenzie, Johnston, McIntosh, O’Neill. Webster, Graham and O’Kane were on the bench.

Clyde were missing key defender Brian McQueen who saw red on Saturday and Ryan Frances was another defender who has missed the last couple of games. In the Clyde starting eleven was ex Montrose man Craig McLeish with another ex Gable Endie David Gray on the bench.

It was altogether an unfamiliar looking Clyde side than that we have seen over the last few seasons and reflects the changes made by new boss Barry Ferguson who has yet to see his new side gel and as a result they currently occupy bottom spot in League Two.

The game started in good conditions on the excellent Broadwood 3G pitch. Clyde made the running first but Montrose quickly repelled the early raids to impose themselves on the game. Deasley latched onto a long ball and scampered down the right but was bundled off the ball before he could cross it and a goal kick was given. Neither side carved out any real chances until the game exploded into life when GARRY WOOD got on to the end of a long cross from the right from Watson and his header under pressure ended up nestling neatly in the bottom corner to put Montrose 1-0 after only 6 minutes.

That was a signal for Clyde pressure with the crowd behind them at that point. A soft free kick given wide right was not defended well and Clyde equalised in the 11th minute when the small but lively KEVIN WATT glanced in a header from the edge of the six yard box.

Clyde now had their tails up and the crowd, sparse as it was, were making plenty of noise. Maybe they would have done in the past few seasons but the present side under George Shields and Lee Wilkie seem to have more resilience to cope and hit back. They dealt capably with what the Bully Wee threw at them then started to gain the upper hand again with Deasley making good runs from the middle of the park. That seems to be his best position and his midfield partners McCord and Watson compliment that well with different styles of their own.

At the 20 minute mark with the score level it was a 50/50 game with chances few and far between although Paul Harkins had a well hit shot just wide of the right hand post.

At the other end new ‘keeper Lucas Birnstingl was dealing with things capably. The main threat from Clyde was the presence of the Euan Smith and the speedy wing man Scott Ferguson out wide on the right who gave Steven Robb a hard night until both were replaced in the second half.

There was a potential flash point just before half time when the Clyde left back Ross McKinnon went hard in on Terry Masson in what looked like a studs up tackle. McKinnon received a yellow card and Masson wisely stayed on the ground as one dreads to think what the consequences might have been otherwise. The remaining first half action saw Paul Watson hit a good effort just over the bar whilst at the other end Birnstingl had relatively little to seriously worry him.

The second half saw the home side come out flying but they lacked the sharpness up front and many of their passes went astray or were over hit. The crowd soon started to get on the backs of their side which from a Montrose point of view was no bad thing if they themselves could keep their composure. That they did and Ross McCord in particular imposed himself well by winning many midfield battles and setting up attacks. Up until the hour mark Clyde did not look like a bottom of the league side but they started then to fall off the pace and the longer it went on the more the crowd became unsettled with them. A tactical change was made by George Shields when he brought off Robb and put replacement Scott Johnston in to bolster the gap between midfield and attack with Craig Bell dropping to left back where his job of containing the speedy Ferguson was made easier as the latter soon was subbed himself.

Montrose took advantage of Clyde uncertainty and scored a vital second goal on the hour mark when TERRY MASSON hit home a daisy cutter from just outside the six yard box after a cross from Scott Johnston had broken to him.

Quite what he was doing there at the time begs the question but if it was a tactical move at the time it was a very good one and now Montrose were 2-1 up with two thirds of the game gone.  

That really was the moment the Clyde crowd turned their anger on both their team and new Manager Barry Ferguson, sensing another home defeat. It could have easily gone to 3-1 soon after as a McCord long range shot thundered off the face of the Clyde crossbar and Deasley almost buried the rebound.

Soon after the second Montrose goal Clyde replaced one ex Mo man Craig McLeish with another David Gray but neither man made any great impression on the game.

From a Montrose point of view it was hoped that Gray would not repeat those amazing goals he scored against Rangers a couple of years ago. Harkins then made way for Stephen O’Neill in another very good tactical move and it does look to be the pattern that Shields and Wilkie are using substitutions to good effect this season.

Montrose piled on the pressure with another McCord effort whistling just over the top and Watson striving to get into firing range. Wood then made way for Leighton McIntosh to put fresh legs on up front alongside the indefatigable Scott Johnston.

Wood had worked hard but again it was a good tactical change to stretch the Clyde defence at a time when they themselves had to risk pushing forward thus leaving gaps at the back which the Montrose fresh legs could exploit. Late on Clyde centre back Marsh was booked for climbing all over O’Neill and the latter was also booked though quite what for is unclear.

As the clock counted down there was always a chance Clyde would salvage something from the game and they did create half chances as Montrose shut up shop. In the end however Clyde had little to offer and Montrose closed the game by holding the ball down in the bottom right hand attacking corner for much of the four minutes of stoppage time.

Star man was Ross McCord in midfield. He reads the game very well and his overall contribution can easily be overlooked but if he can continue to have games like that he will be a fixture in the starting eleven. Paul Watson also made a few very timely warrior like tackles but a free kick within his range did not occur. Nevertheless he played his part well. A special word for the back four who worked their socks off with Crawford and Campbell outstanding. Wood up front did his job well though Harkins was quiet on the night. If there was a weak point it was probably down the left flank where both Robb and Bell have a lot to do to work in tandem although in mitigation the lively Clyde winger Ferguson was a handful for the first hour of the game.

A good three points for the Mo and two away wins on the trot. Hopefully a decent crowd will turn out for the East Fife game at Links Park to see if the corner is turned and Montrose can seriously be considered play off contenders. Messrs Shields, Wilkie and the current squad a players, including the stronger line up on the bench these days, surely deserve more support from the terraces.

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