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Accies v Alloa Athletic
SPFL Championship
Saturday 19th April 3.00pm

Raith Rovers

Clydebank 1 Accies 1 16/02/02

Accies and Clydebank fought out a 1-1 draw at Cappielow today in a match which promised much but in the end turned out to be fairly disappointing. At least referee Dougie Smith managed to spice things up a bit.

Having turned up to find the carpark closed we were directed by the local constabulary to carry on a bit and "take the second on the left, up a steep hill and round the back of the ground". Naturally the second on the left was a dead end, as was the 3rd. The 4th (or was it the 5th?) turned out to be what we were looking for and we eventually managed to get parked.

Accies made one change from the starting eleven against Alloa with recent loan signing from Celtic, Michael Herbet, making his debut in goal as Faldo dropped to the bench. The big keeper nearly had a nightmare start as, inside the first minute, Sean Sweeney headed the ball back only to find the keeper coming to collect the ball. Luckily the header was soft enough for Herbet to scramble back and palm the ball behind. Seconds later Herbet was again in action, blocking a close range effort. Accies should have taken the lead after only 5 minutes when ex-Celtic defender Mark McNally hesitated, allowing Stuart Callaghan to nip in ahead of him. Cally managed to skip past Henry Smith but then sliced his shot into the side netting from the corner of the 6 yard box when it looked as if he must score.

Fortunately the opener was only delayed by a couple of minutes: a deep cross from the left was nodded down by Callaghan for David McNiven to drive the ball low past Smith from a tightish angle. Another early goal for Accies but once again they failed to capitalise and allowed the Bankies to take some control. Having said that, the Accies defence was never under particular pressure until the 27th minute when another on-loan Celt, Clydebank's Paul Shields, was given too much space on the right of the box and rifled the ball home, giving Herbet no chance.

Clydebank could have had a second goal minutes later but a shot from the edge of the box just squeezed past the post. The game was physical throughout - without being dirty - and the ref managed to upset both sets of fans with some inconsistent decisions. Michael Moore was booked for persistent fouling, despite getting some harsh treatment from the Bankies defenders, and Bankies manager Derek Ferguson was booked after a foul on Stuart Callaghan. Accies had one more goalscoring chance in the first half when Sean Sweeney found himself unmarked in the box, but his powerful header was off target.

No changes at halftime and not many early chances in the second half either. After Clydebank's equaliser the game seemed to deteriorate and there was little good passing from either side. The ball was being sent forward far too quickly and there was little cohesive play on view. Brian McPhee produced one nice bit of skill near the corner flag which nearly produced a chance for McNiven but The Bee looked a bit out of sorts and not particularly comfortable in his more withdrawn role. By midway through the half he seemed to be playing more as a right back than a winger or forward. The game continued to be tousy and tempers were beginning to rise as the half wore on. With 20 minutes left, Bankies fullback McGowan clattered into the back of McPhee and was duly booked. Accies went quickly upfield and after a penalty claim for handball, the same player barged into the back of McNiven, giving away a free kick between the box and corner flag. I was then watching the ball and missed what happened next. My mate Gerry saw it all and could hardly believe it - Derek Ferguson ran to his defender shouting and trying to cool him down. At which point McGowan appeared to take a swing at his captain/manager who in turn had to be held back from punching him back! The ref missed it but the stand-side assistant didn't and McGowan was off for first go at the showers.

Naturally we all thought this would give Accies a great chance of all three points and Michael Moore missed a golden chance to out Accies ahead. A great long ball from Cunnington set McNiven away on the right and his cross found Moore all alone 10 yards out. He succeeded only in heading the ball gently into Smith's arms with the goal beckoning. Clydebank made a double substitution, replacing Shields and Darren Jackson with Alex Burke and the ever-popular Paul McGrillen. McGrillen had barely been on the pitch for 2 minutes when he was involved in the action - and not in a good way. He went for a 50-50 ball on the touchline right in front of me with Ross McLaren. McGrillen may well have got a slight touch on the ball first and McLaren certainly wasn't holding back but any contact with the Bankies player was light. That didn't stop him flying spectacularly onto the track and looking as if he just been shot by an Al-Qaeda sniper. Amazingly ref Dougie Smith - positioned reasonably close but on the opposite side of the action - sprinted to show McLaren a red card, much to the big defender's astonishment. If this had been an SPL match there would have been much discussion afterwards and an immediate appeal using video evidence. We don't have that luxury in Division 2. Oh, you'll be glad to know McGrillen seemed ok afterwards. What a surprise.

The action was quite over then though. Callaghan decided McGrillen needed to know what a boot on the leg actually does feel like. McGrillen reacted in his usual manner, jumping up and going head to head with Cally who, to his credit, walked away and even offered to shake hands. McGrillen refused and both were booked. Clydebank came close to snatching all 3 points towards the end. A long range effort was deflected, forcing Herbet into an awkward save, before the big Frenchman produced a superb one handed save to turn another powerful shot onto the bar. Kris O'Neil replaced Moore with 3 minutes to go - I thought his performance at Alloa should have earned him an earlier appearance, as Accies never really looked threatening in the penalty box. The defence was pretty solid again and Martin Bonnar did well to stifle the threat from Derek Ferguson and Brian Hamilton in the midfield.

Accies: Herbet; Graham, Cunnington, Nelson, Sweeney, McLaren, Bonnar, McNiven, Moore (sub O'Neil), McPhee, Callaghan. Unused subs: McFarlane, Renicks, Martin, McCreadie.
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