Queen’s started top of the League and the good news for the fans during the week was that exciting Celtic midfielder Luca Connell was returning to the Club on another loan spell, lasting for the full season.
In a wee shuffle of the pack, Bob McHugh was brought in to play down the middle, with Simon Murray playing out left. At the back, Charlie Fox came in for Lee Kilday.
Clyde have a had a very haphazard season, but they have the talisman that is David Goodwillie up front for them, he having scored his 100th goal for the club last week. And it was Goodwillie who shone in this game, giving a bit of a master class in how to play centre forward at this level.
Queen’s started off brightly, if not spectacularly, prompted by the silky skills of Gillespie and Brown, and had a couple of decent chances. Murray, twice, and McHugh had efforts on goal that didn’t trouble Clyde keeper Neil Parry, whilst in the 20th minute a header from McHugh came back off the bar following some nice interplay involving him and Grant Gillespie.
All looking good for Queen’s, but Goodwillie broke away and gave Jones a right good chance only for his shot to be safely held by Willie Muir. And so it continued; Queen’s in possession, but not really carving out clear cut chances, whilst Goodwillie had the Clyde fans on their feet every time he got the ball. McHugh beavered away but Simon Murray seemed to be a wee bit wrong-footed with being out on the wing and too many balls into the box were missing his threat.
Splaine was the first of four Clyde players (plus their manager) in the book with a heavy hit on Grant Gillespie in the 31st minute and that could have been a red. Queen’s broke, with the exciting Max Gillies charging down the wing, crossing for Murray, but Balatoni just nipped in in front of him to head clear.
And then comes the goal. Goodwillie had come close in the 32nd minute, but he was right on the money four minutes later. Balatoni lofted a free kick into the box; Goodwillie had five clear yards of space; he knocks the ball over his man, and cracked a cracker of a shot in. Great goal, but one which Laurie Ellis will be raging about at next week’s post-match analysis. You simply can’t give this guy five yards of free space in the box.
All of a sudden, Clyde were the team in control. They looked comfortable and the balls that were going astray beforehand were finding their men. Other than a searching ball into the box which Parry dropped under pressure, Queen’s were out of the picture.
No changes at half time and Cunningham scorned a half-decent chance before Queen’s brought it back level. Liam Brown showed sublime skills to beat two men wide on the left and set off a move involving himself, Robson, Thomson and Longridge, which ended with the latter shooting in from 22 yards. A terrific goal and it spurred Queen’s into action.
Goodwillie let us know that it wasn’t all safe when he caused a moment of panic in the QP box, falling over after a challenge that might have had the referee pondering, but there was no need for pondering two minutes later when Rumsby whacked Doyle on the back of the head with his elbow in the box. Gillespie put away the penalty and the game had really turned on its head.
Goodwillie again broke with menace, and it took the most perfect of tackles from Michael Doyle to rob him.
Bookings were traded as the game flowed back and forth, and Muir was off his line sharpish to clear before Goodwillie could reach a searching ball from Cunningham. Up at the other end, there was a beautiful move involving Louis Longridge and Simon Murray with the latter touching the ball back deftly to Bob McHugh, but his shot came back off the post.
On came a slew of subs for both sides, and Queen’s perked up noticeably with Smith, Longstaff and Connell showing some lovely touches as Queen’s continued to dominate. Gillespie and Smith (twice) came close as Queen’s looked to finish the game off, but Clyde rallied strongly. They had brought on the imposing figure of Gregory Tade, and he was set loose by Cuddihy in the 85th minute but Willie Muir raced from his line and clattered the guy in what didn’t look like something he had to do, what with defenders on hand to cover. It was a pretty clear penalty but thankfully Goodwillie tried a clever wee dink, the sort of thing that looks great to your own fans when it comes off, and howlingly funny to the opposition fans when it doesn’t. Thankfully, it was howling laughter all round as the ball sailed over the bar and Queen’s were surely going to hold out.
Nah. With a minute to go, a challenge on Tade resulted in a free kick and the loft into the box bobbed about back and forth with six touches of head tennis before Goodwillie got his foot behind the ball to equalise.
And at the death, Willie Muir had to be smart to get down to save well from Goodwillie.
I was listening intently to a man who does this match reporting gig for a living and, such is the pressure of deadlines, he has the thing written with ten minutes to go with his finger poised over the SEND button on his laptop, praying for nothing to happen late on. Just as well he doesn’t report on Queen’s Park matches as this plan would simply not work.
As a Queen’s fan, it’s hard to know how to feel after this one. Was it a point won or two points lost? We certainly looked the better side, but that’s the best I’ve seen David Goodwillie play and, certainly in the second half, he was well-nigh unstoppable. Thankfully, he made a real hash of the penalty to counter the rest of his decent shift.
In a roller coaster of a game, Queen’s seemed to have had the game in the bag, opened up the bag, shut it over again and then spilled the contents out all over the shop at the death. Bottom line is though, Queen’s started the game at the top of the table and ended the game in exactly the same spot; still unbeaten whilst every other team in the division has lost at least two matches. Only the churlish would complain, and I feel far from churlish, so won’t. We’ll play better and lose and play worse and win. A strange game, that’s for sure.
Gillespie and Brown shone in midfield and I felt sorry for Bob McHugh who could have emerged a big hero had even one of his woodwork-hitters gone in. Once again, Louis Longridge seemed to be everywhere and I can’t imagine what it must be to mark him; another top performance from him. Particularly pleasing was the play when the three subs came on, with Connell trying some audacious tricks.
This is a bit of thrilling ride and the Laurie Ellis Experience powers onwards and upwards, with Peterhead visiting Fortress Firhill next Saturday. Don’t miss it.
And whoever writes the match report, expect the unexpected.
Clyde: Parry, Balatoni, Elsdon, Rumsby (Tade 75′), Deveney, Splaine (Andrew 84′), Kennedy (Livingstone 75′), Jones, Goodwillie, Cunningham, Cuddihy. Booked: Rumsby, Splaine, Cunningham, Jones.
Queen’s Park: Muir, Gillies, Doyle, Fox, Robson, Gillespie, Brown (Smith 75′), Longridge, Thomson, Murray (Longstaff 80′), McHugh (Connell 75′). Subs not used: Ferrie, Biggar, Moore, Kilday
Referee: Duncan Williams