So Queens month long spell at the top of the division finally comes to an end thanks to a defeat at Broadwood in trying circumstances. Still as was pointed out to me on the way home, here we are disappointed about being second in the First Division, a point off the top with December nearly upon us! Sometimes it pays to look at the big picture.
It was apparent before kick off that this game would be a test of who's cover players could cope the best. Queens remain without the services of Sean O'Connor for at least another fortnight and were also missing former captain and ex-Bully Wee favourite Jim Thomson through suspension following his sending off against Ayr last weekend. Andy Aitken starting in his place was the only change to the Queens side which also saw Paddy Atkinson make a rare appearance on the bench. The home side were missing Bryn Halliwell in goal and preferred front pair of Stephen McConologue and Pat Keogh through injury, meaning a rare start for Andy Smith......unfortunately!
The game's first major talking point may have major repercussions for Queens and arrived after just 7 minutes. Colin Scott went up to collect a cross and was clattered by Andy Smith for his trouble. Jack Ross stroked the loose ball home but referee Craig Thomson had already blown for a free kick though, to be fair, there didn't look to be any malice in Smith's challenge. After extensive treatment it became clear that Scott was in no condition to carry on and he was stretchered off and replaced with John Dodds. The balance of the opening 20 minutes was dull and rather lifeless.
The first chance of any note arrived after 24 minutes when a clever Burke flick gave McColligan a sight of goal from 15 yards but he missed his kick and the chance was gone. Up the other end a minute later, Dodds produced a smart save with his feet after our old friend Ian Harty had played Andy Smith in on goal. Two minutes later the same combination saw Harty hammer a Smith flick on just over the bar from the left corner of the box and the signs were that the combination was going to cause us trouble. Just before the half hour mark though a horrible error by Simon Mensing presented Alex Burke with the ball wide on the left. "Burkey" ran inside and struck a beautiful shot from 20 yards beyond Alan Morrison but against the base of his left hand post. The rebound ran well outside the box before being hammered back in by McColligan but it was blocked by defenders before it could reach the goals.
On 38 minutes Morrison again looked anything but confident in fumbling a long range Paton effort wide for a corner but five minutes later Clyde came very close to snatching a lead. It came from a free kick awarded midway inside the Queens half after a challenge on Kernaghan by Gary Wood. The flighted cross was met by David Hagen and Dodds could only palm the ball off his line. Fortunately Brian Reid was first to the loose ball and hacked it off the line under challenge from two home players. Three minutes into the injury time added on due to the Scott injury though Queens grabbed the lead. Chris McGroarty tried to run the ball out of his defence but was robbed of the ball by an Andy Aitken challenge on halfway. Aitken immediately spread the ball wide right to Alex Burke who turned Kernaghan inside out before sliding a perfect cross inside the 6 yard box. Gary Wood was on hand at the back post to force the ball over the line from a couple of yards out despite the efforts of Morrison in the home goal.
The second half began about as slowly as the first but Clyde had begun to exert a little more dominance in possession. From a 54th minute corner they equalised. The cross was twice headed up in the air, the second time by Harty before dropping towards Andy Smith who was able to overhead kick the ball into the bottom right corner of the net from about 8 yards with Dodds completely helpless.
Two minutes later further disaster followed when the home side grabbed the lead. This time Smith rose to head down a left sided cross for Ian Harty to sweep the ball into the same corner of the net. As if that wasn't bad enough, 2-1 became 3-1 just after the hour mark. Harty hit another shot from just inside the box which Dodds was able to save but not hold and Andy Smith was presented with a task as simple as Wood's in the first half to add another goal to the total from just 3 yards out.
Clyde's Colin Marshall was booked for dissent in the 69th minute before David Hagen went close again with another 20 yard effort which had Dodds scrambling but went narrowly wide. A minute later Emilio Jaconelli made his long awaited debut in the top team when he replaced Gary Wood who had been carrying a knock. With quarter of an hour remaining Alex Burke struck a free kick from just outside the box but Morrison was able to parry the ball wide after McGroarty had fouled Burns.
With ten minutes remaining Derek Lyle came on for Steve Bowey as Connolly gambled on a 4-3-3 approach for the remainder of the match. It nearly paid off a minute later when Lyle's goalbound effort was stabbed off the line by a defender following a scramble at a corner. Clyde then replaced Harty and Gibson with Gilhaney and Millen but there was little further incident and the home side were able to comfortably see out the win.
Disappointing as it is to drop from the top spot it was always going to happen eventually and we remain in second spot with a winnable fixture over St Mirren at Palmerston to follow. The long term loss of Colin Scott is a worry but John Dodds appeared a more than competent replacement in the early part of the season and now has the opportunity to justify that opinion. I don't think Clyde looked an especially good side today but they did enough to win to be fair and we never really looked like coping with big Andy Smith in the absence of Jim Thomson just as we didn't really cope with Paatelainen at St Johnstone when Thomson missed that one too. He at least though will be back next week.