Forfar Athletic 2, Clyde 1
Forfar bounced back from a six-goal mauling at Falkirk the previous week to defeat a disappointing Clyde side at Station Park.
It was a lively and entertaining encounter – but Clyde boss Danny Lennon said he “did not recognise” his squad in terms of workload in the first half.
Trailing 1-0 at the break, the manager made a double substitution – because he reckoned things couldn’t get much worse - which seemed to pay dividends, as Clyde pummelled the Forfar goal early in the second half and then notched an equaliser through Barry Cuddihy.
But, within three minutes, they conceded again, which gave a “very, very industrious” Forfar side something to hold on to.
“In the first 10 minutes of the game, it was reasonable – we made a good start, then we didn’t lay a glove on them, which is very disappointing,” he said. “It was very lacklustre, even in terms of possession. We didn’t hurt them in any of the areas we’d spoken about, where we show our true strengths and our character.
“It was much improved in the second half but still way below what we expect at this football club.”
Clyde, in fact, spent most of the opening few minutes in Forfar’s half, with David Goodwillie trying an idealistic shot from halfway after noticing Forfar stopper Marc McCallum off his line. But the ball was always looping wide and posed no danger.
Jordan Kirkpatrick, who was to enjoy a fine afternoon in a Forfar side packed with new signings, floated a 10th minute free kick into the Clyde box after a heavy challenge by Martin McNiff on one newcomer, Steven Doris. Clyde ‘keeper David Mitchell, however, gathered easily.
In a rather surprise move, Forfar took the lead after 18 minutes. A ground-level cross from the left was missed by every Clyde defender and Robbie Leitch tried a shot which attracted yells for a penalty from the Forfar players, who thought the ball had been handled by an opponent in red. Clyde’s players hesitated momentarily and looked at referee Mike Roncone - then Jordan Kirkpatrick slammed home the rebound.
The goal gave the home side encouragement to pile on a bit of pressure and a long-range shot from Callum Tapping sailed narrowly wide.
Clyde’s Craig Howie suffered a facial injury when another new Forfar arrival, Bobby Barr, appeared to catch him with an elbow, after Howie had wrapped his arms around the former Raith Rovers player. Referee Roncone settled for a free kick to Clyde and Barr then almost put Forfar two up with a stylish shot on the turn inside the box, which was saved well by Mitchell.
Goodwillie, typically, was using the ball cleverly when trying to create opportunities and almost found Ally Love with a high through ball as Clyde hunted for an equaliser in 24 minutes. The rearguard cleared, however, despite a potentially costly slip by Forfar’s Darren Whyte.
Howie sent a 33rd minute cross over from the right after another thoughtful through ball from Goodwillie but there was no one in the Forfar box to collect it for Clyde.
Slick, intelligent play during a lengthy run by Goodwillie was undone by a slack pass from the Clyde man which turned into a Forfar attack on 37 minutes. Kirkpatrick squared to Leitch but his shot was half blocked by covering players, which took the sting out of it and made it simple for Mitchell.
A minute later, Marc McCallum made his first save of the game by skilfully turning a flick with the outside of the boot around the post from Ally Love.
Boss Lennon said afterwards the only way for Clyde was upwards after their first-half performance and restarted with Chris Johnston on in place of Gregg Wylde and Darren Smith deputising for Ally Love.
Clyde then had three rapid-fire attempts at the Forfar goal after fine build-up work, two of which were saved by McCallum and the other one blocked, before another move which paid off. After another advance, which had Forfar struggling to clear their lines, Barry Cuddihy found a way through the congested penalty box with a low shot after 51 minutes.
Clyde seemed to be in the ascendancy but just when their fans may have been expecting them to construct more from that equaliser, they found themselves behind again just three minutes later.
There seemed to be little danger looming but Doris slipped the ball through the centre to Kirkpatrick, who ran on confidently and rifled a firm shot past the helpless Mitchell.
Tom Lang almost cost Clyde a third goal after 57 minutes when he was short with a pass back but Mitchell advanced to get to the ball before Doris arrived.
On 62 minutes, the ball was lobbed forward to Kirkpatrick, who possibly sensed his hat-trick and fired harmlessly wide when a better option may have been to leave it to Barr.
An inswinging corner from Forfar’s Tapping grazed the bar but Clyde’s restart clearance was poor and Leitch found himself with a great chance on 74 minutes. But his angled right-foot drive struck the post with Mitchell beaten.
The Clyde stopper made a fine save after 77 minutes from a Tapping free kick which bounced in front of him.
Clyde applied a fair bit of pressure on the Forfar defence in the closing minutes and came agonisingly close to equalising right at the end. McCallum managed to scoop the ball out during a goalmouth melee and Forfar manager Stuart Malcolm was yellow-carded for expressing the view that play should have been halted for a free kick to his side.
Forfar Athletic – McCallum, Meechan, Bain, Whyte, Travis, Irvine, Leitch (Mackintosh 80), Tapping (Robertson 86), Doris (Aitken 75), Kirkpatrick, Barr. Subs (not used) - Coll, Shanley, McGuff.
Clyde - Mitchell, Howie, McNiff, Lang, Rumsby (Rankin 68), Grant, Wylde (Johnston 45), Lamont, Goodwillie, Cuddihy, Love (Smith 45). Subs (not used) - McMullin, McStay, Lyon, McGee.
Referee - Mike Roncone.
Attendance - 566.