As Frankie (Sinatra not Goes to Hollywood) said “…and now the end is near“. Well closer than that actually. The end is here. For season 2012/13 and RedWeb this is the last stand. The venue for this momentous occasion was the world’s coldest football ground, Clyde FC’s Broadwood Stadium. The rest of Scotland could be melting in a record heatwave but this hilltop oasis would still have you searching for the hat and scarf. Once again it was absolutely baltic as Stirling looked to end Clyde’s good home form with a win to secure seventh place in the end of season standings. Defeat could still see the Beanos finish second from bottom. Not something anybody would want on their CV. Team lines were interesting. The absence of Scott Davidson, Josh Flood and Gary Thom gave a heavy hint to their departures from the club. There were in fact three changes from last week’s draw with Elgin. Out went the aforementioned Davidson and Thom along with Sandy Cunningham, who dropped to the bench. Into the starting XI came Kieran McAnespie, Jamie McCunnie and Phil Johnston.
It felt more like January than May as the match kicked off at a cold and windy Broadwood. What happened to seasons ending in sunshine with fans in shorts and t-shirts? As the action got underway the home side were quickly on the front foot. Indeed within a couple of minutes they were ahead. A quick throw-in was gathered by Kevin Watt whose back post cross was tapped in by strike partner STEFAN McCLUSKEY. Sloppy play from the Beanos who should have defended the shy much, much better. Wasn’t great stuff from Greig McDonald’s charges in the opening stages. A Kieran McAnespie free kick was looped well over via the head of Jordan White in the visitors first meaningful attack. Clyde were having the better of things early on and goalscorer McCluskey went close to a second after he cut in from the Clyde right and drilled the ball just over the bar.
As the match progressed the temperature seemed to plummet further. Must remember to put on my thermals if and when we ever come to Broadwood again! Stefan McCluskey was causing the Stirling defence plenty of problems and his pass to Pat Scullion ended with the former Alloa and Stennie man dinking the ball just over the bar. The same two combined again moments later but this time Scullion’s effort wasn’t as close as it drifted a yard wide of Crawford’s right hand post. Stirling had created next to nothing and Clyde keeper Jamie Barclay was probably starting to suffer symptoms of hypothermia. A shy into the Clyde box was flicked on by Jordan White to Mark Ferry who hooked the ball over from about 10 yards out. The Stirling midfield of Ferry, McClune and McAnespie was struggling to get into the game. Slow in possession and too easily out scrapped. McClune saw yet another weak pass intercepted to allow John Sweeney a run on goal before shooting over. At this point I spent a few seconds scribbling some thoughts in my notepad. As a last game exclusive here is exactly what I wrote:
“this is very poor. Clyde much more up for it, playing better. We have nothing up front. Jordan White too deep. No runners. No legs”
Just about sums it up. We looked sluggish and White was getting little or no support through the middle. Hopefully the management team could see this and were already planning changes at the break. The first booking of the afternoon came when Paul Orrick was carded for tripping David McClune. The last chance of the first period fell the same way as most of the rest. A good run from Kevin Watt saw the home striker evade appeals for offside before picking out David Crawford’s midriff with a curling shot. The last incident of note in the half came when former Beano Paul Hay was yellowed for preventing his old team taking a quick free kick. However, there was to be more scoring before the break. Therefore as the teams trooped off for the half-time “RedWeb’s retirement cake” it was the home side who had a deserved one goal advantage.
Half-TimeClyde 1 Stirling Albion 0
The visitors made a change at the lemons as youngster Sandy Cunningham replaced David McClune. Good move by the management team as what we were doing in the first half wasn’t working. There was an early moment of controversy in the second 45 as Clyde’s Kevin Watt was only booked for what could easily have been a red card. A ball up the park trundled out of play and Watt seemed to kick out at David Crawford. Probably on a par with Scott Davidson’s daft sending off against the Shire at Ochilview. Soft perhaps but on another day Watt could have been heading for the showers. Beanos defender Jamie McCunnie was raging at the referee’s leniency and talked himself into a booking for his protests. As in the first half the hosts started the brighter. A cross into the Stirling box caused mayhem and a combination of Jamie Clark and Pat Scullion deflected the ball goal-wards and Crawford had to be alert to keep it out. John Sweeney then drilled a low shot past Crawford’s left hand post as the Beanos remained stuck in reverse gear.
Stirling hadn’t threatened since the break but a long punt up the park changed all that. Sandy Cunningham won the race to the ball and having out-muscled Iain Gray the Albion striker was hauled to the deck in the act of shooting. Clear penalty and sadly for Iain Gray a clear red card. From the spot JORDAN WHITE smashed the ball into the roof of Jamie Barclay’s net to bring the scores level. In the aftermath of the Albion equaliser Clyde made a change as the “blond bomber”, Kieran McGachie, replaced Kevin Watt. Albion fans of course have a love-to-hate relationship with blondie after his amateur dramatics saw Gary Thom red carded at Annan earlier in the season. With space now opening up due to Clyde’s player shortage Stirling began to take a grip of proceedings. Phil Johnston had a pop from distance only to see it deflect behind for a corner kick. A second home change soon followed as Paul Orrick made way for Marc McCusker. Wide man Phil Johnston was up for a crack from distance but his latest attempt trundled weakly into the gloves of Jamie Barclay when he had Stephen Day in a good supporting position.
If another goal was going to come it seemed more likely to be in the Clyde net at this stage. A good run from Ross McGeachie ended with a cross which Jordan White latched on to before seeing a close range hook shot blocked. Clyde’s attack was now only seen in fleeting raids but they had the Stirling defence stretched when Kieran McGachie broke clear. With the former Annan striker getting closed down he squared the ball to Stefan McCluskey who drilled over from the edge of the box. Most of the chances though continued to fall Stirling’s way. Kieran McAnespie swung over a corner which broke to Jamie Clark whose close range stab deflected over for another set piece. With the game and season entering its final 10 minutes the visitors struck again. A cross from Danny Ashe fell for ROSS McGEACHIE at the back post and his well struck shot fizzed across Jamie Barclay and inside the keeper’s right hand post. Big moment for the u19’s graduate as he netted his first senior goal. Well done Ross!
Jim Duffy would have known the game was just about gone so reacted by throwing on his last sub. This change saw Gary Graham taking the place of Daniel Fitzpatrick. Stephen Day was yellowed for something or other. No idea what really. Only guess is it was for preventing a quick throw-in. Not sure. Seemed petty from the ref but what’s new? A slack throw out from David Crawford then put his own defence under unnecessary pressure. So much so that Kieran McAnespie was carded for chopping down Stefan McCluskey on the edge of his own box. Pat Scullion stepped up and his curling free kick was well grabbed by Crawford down low at his left hand post. The Beanos second change of the game saw the latest u19’s kid to get his debut as Steven Forbes replaced Phil Johnston. Got to be honest and say I wasn’t impressed with Johnston again. Wouldn’t shed a tear if it’s the last we see of him in an Albion jersey. Frankly if he stays we are rewarding mediocrity. Not a good thing.
With the match entering stoppage time sub Marc McCusker fell victim to a good old “sandwich” challenge. The result was a sore one for McCusker who was eventually escorted off with what looked like a facial injury. Hopefully nothing too serious for the lad. The free kick that followed was rolled by John Sweeney into the path of McCluskey who sliced the ball into the side netting. Clyde were now down to nine men as all their subs had been used. It mattered little as the game was just about finished. Seconds later that view was confirmed when the referee rattled his pea for full-time. Not a classic but still good to finish the season with a win, only our third on the road in 2012/13. Two defeats in the last 17 saw Stirling end up in seventh spot only four points back from the play-offs. Here’s hoping we start 2013/14 in similar form and make a real run at promotion.
Lastly now some goodbyes. To the players who are leaving us thanks for your efforts and aw ra best wherever you end up. To the readers of RedWeb we hope you enjoyed what we have produced over the years. It’s been a blast but now it’s over. For a final, fond farewell please take a peak at the final article I plan to write for the site. Have a good summer everyone. I will be back but without notepad in hand. See you in 2013/14!