Shire slumped to their first defeat in four matches against Clyde at Broadwood, a stadium that is rapidly turning into a bogey ground for John Coughlin’s men.
The team slid down the slippery road to defeat almost as soon as the award of an 18th minute penalty allowed the Bully Wee to take the lead. It was a largely disappointing display and by the conclusion Clyde were worthy winners.
The Shire coach was left with a selection headache before the game with neither skipper Kevin Turner or midfielder Michael Hunter, both automatic starters, available for selection through suspension.
However, David Cane was back after missing the Stranraer match through injury and he took up his normal place in the centre of defence alongside Steven Jackson. That allowed Rhys Devlin to move into midfield in place of the missing Hunter and Graeme Ramage made his first start since joining on loan from Dumbarton to compensate for the absence of Turner.
Shire were quickly on the attack after kick-off and might have taken the lead after just two minutes. Ramage engineered a chance down the right and fed Alex Lurinsky on the edge of the six yard box but his shot hit the side netting.
After nine minutes Clyde had a great scoring chance of their own. Jack Sloss fired in a cross from the left and John Neill was only a fraction away from connecting fronm point-blank range.
The complexion of the game changed after 18 minutes when Lee Sharp hit a deep cross from the left-wing to the back post. Clyde centre-half Brian McQueen jumped with Jackson in an attempt to win the ball and referee Kevin Graham awarded a penalty kick for a push. John Sweeney sent Calum Antell the wrong way from the spot.
Clyde took a good deal of heart from the opening goal and a minute later Michael Oliver’s half-volley from well outside the penalty area just cleared the Shire crossbar.
The home team almost made it 2-0 on 24 minutes following a great piece of passing play down the right-hand side. It ended with a cross which Stephen McDonald hit on the turn from the edge of the six yard box but again the effort was just too high.
They were given the perfect opportunity to double their advantage on 33 minutes when referee Graham awarded Clyde another penalty, this time for Jackson’s sliding challenge on Kieran Brannan. But Sweeney’s second spot kick of the game was read perfectly by Antell who dived low to his left to save.
However, Clyde were not to be denied and they did eventually get the second goal their play merited barely two minutes into the second half. A nice piece of passing play on the edge of the Shire box between Brannan and McDonald created the space for the latter to play in a low cross for Sloss to tap-in to an empty net.
A minute later Andy Stirling drifted in off Shire’s left wing to thread through a pass for Ramage. The Shire striker shot for goal from the edge of the six yard box but his effort went just the wrong side of the post.
Stirling’s promptings created another opportunity for the visitors to reduce the leeway after 55 minutes. His perfect pass released Scott Maxwell who only had Clyde keeper David Crawford to beat but his shot was well-saved by the goalie’s outstretched leg.
After 66 minutes the match was put well beyond Shire’s reach. David Cane’s attempt to intercept Brannan’s pass for John Neill simply defelected off the former Shire man and he collected the rebound to shoot past the exposed Antell from the edge of the penalty area.
Four minutes later Clyde should have been 4-0 in front. Again some incisive passing around the edge of the Shire box created a clear sight of goal for substitute Ryan Kane but he dragged his shot across the face of goal and just wide of the far post.
The final quarter of the game was almost chanceless with Clyde sitting on a comfortable advantage and Shire rearly looking as though they would come back from three goals behind.
The best the visitors could manage was a half-volley from Iain Chisholm which Crawford handled comfortably and a long-range effort from Joe Dingwall which the Clyde keeper almost fumbled through his own legs.
The home team might have added another to their impressive advantage three minutes from the end. This time Kane was the provider setting up Sweeney for a shot at goal but the midfielder’s effort struck the Shire crossbar and went behind.
CLYDE : Crawford, Gray, Sharp, Oliver, McQueen, Hay(Scullion 82), Neill, Sweeney, McDonald, Brannan(Archdeacon 87), Sloss(Kane 62).
SHIRE : Antell, Chisholm, Dingwall(Fulton 84), Cane, Jackson, Devlin(Sheerin 69), Ramage, Stirling, Lurinsky(Team 78), Horner, Maxwell.
REFEREE : K. Graham.
ATTENDANCE : 507.