Peterhead show off their title credentials with win over Clyde

SCO LGE 2'PETERHEAD V EAST STIRLINGSHIRE'(DUNCAN BROWN)''PETERHEAD'S ANDY RODGERS  IS MOBBED BY HIS TEAM MATES AFTER HIS OPENER
SCO LGE 2'PETERHEAD V EAST STIRLINGSHIRE'(DUNCAN BROWN)''PETERHEAD'S ANDY RODGERS IS MOBBED BY HIS TEAM MATES AFTER HIS OPENER

Striker Andy Rodgers was the star against Clyde as his brace helped lift Peterhead to the top of the League 2 tree.

Two goals in four minutes from the maverick front man, and another late on from loanee Reece Donaldson, gave the Blue Toon something extra to celebrate as his team mates began a weekend of Christmas festivities.

Before the match at Broadwood Peterhead manager Jim McInally had lauded his opponents’ 10-game unbeaten run in all competitions, stressing the challenge facing the visitors.

But Peterhead are now on a laudable run of their own and are quietly growing into their title-favourites reputation.

Their victory was only soured by the early exit of Rory McAllister who pulled up lame, feeling his hamstring, after only half an hour.

The half-time replacement of former Clyde man Bryan Gilfillan with Jordon Brown, the third time the pair have been swapped in as many matches, was another reminder of the injuries which hampered the Blue Toon’s early season matches.

McInally confirmed during his post-match media duties that Gilfillan is still struggling to shake off a groin problem.

The match began, as dozens across Scotland did, with a minute’s applause - a mark of respect for the passing of Nelson Mandela.

Within moments, a timid pass back from Craig Tully let in Clyde’s Stefan McCluskey but Peterhead goalkeeper Graeme Smith was alert to clear.

At the other end Jamie Redman found himself in space in the box but, in two minds, failed to either pass or shoot with conviction.

It was not long however before the small but vocal travelling support were on their feet in raptures - in the ninth minute Gilfillan cushioned an aerial ball with the tip of his boot before curling in a cross from the left.

When his ball found Rodgers - described by his boss as ‘unplayable at times’ - the striker dispatched a delicate first-time shot through the legs of Nikola Rajovic and into the Clyde goal.

Within moments though the Bully Wee had drawn level through a Scott Ferguson goal.

A poorly organised Peterhead back line found themselves exposed when Tully played the lively number seven, Clyde’s most promising outlet in the opening period, onside.

Ferguson collected a through ball in space outside the box and tucked the ball low into the left hand corner of Smith’s net.

In the 13th minute Rodgers again put his team into the lead, this time with one of the season’s most outlandish headed efforts.

Wingback Graeme Sharp whipped a ball towards Rodgers from close range and the striker, standing on the 18-yard line, looped an audacious header over a back-tracking Rajovic.

The 30-year-old later conceded that his effort owed more to fortune than finesses, though this will prove little consolation to the goalkeeper, humiliated twice in the space of five minutes.

Rodgers and his Peterhead team mates were dominant in the first half and it was only Ferguson who impressed in a Clyde performance which otherwise belied position atop the table.

In the 33rd minute McAllister, chasing a ball on the right side, pulled up lame holding the back of his thigh.

He immediately called over to his manager for a replacement and made his way, tenderly, across the pitch to the tunnel, forcing McInally to introduce the diligent Fraser McLaren far earlier than intended.

After the break storms had begun to brew both on and above the artificial pitch.

While Clyde’s stadium lived up to its Ice Station Broadwood nickname - allegedly the coldest ground in Scotland - the bubbling tension of this clash of league leaders and league favourites almost boiled over when Scott Ross jumped into the back of the giant Patrick Scullion.

As the pair lay tangled on the floor, Clyde players steamed in and it fell to Andy Rodgers - sent off for getting involved in a near identical situation last time the teams met - to act as peacemaker.

But despite an increasingly impassioned Clyde performance, Donaldson put the game beyond the home side in the 65th minute with a simple tap in from a Graeme Sharp corner.

From then on Clyde were left to huff and puff to no avail - with 20 minutes left a 25-yard shot from McCluskey was taken confidently by Smith low to his left who also turned away a hammer blow from substitute Gavin Brown minutes later.

With sardonic cries of ‘Can we play you every week?’ echoing around a disappointingly empty Broadwood from the away fans, Clyde supporters began trickling towards the exits even before the 80th minute.

After the match McInally said: “The one let down was that we didn’t score more goals - we should have picked them off a wee bit better at the end.

“We are in the right place at the moment and confidence is good.

“Everybody was going on about Clyde’s run before the game but we are on a good run as well and scoring goals into the bargain.”

A disconsolate Jim Duffy made no effort to hide his disappointment.

He said: I’m bitterly disappointed with the performance. We didn’t play at all and Peterhead thoroughly deserved to win.

“I could be here for ages giving excuses but the bottom line is the better team won.

“They had better players than us on the day and those players performed better. Now we have to try and bounce back.”

Peterhead: Smith, Sharp, Noble, Tully (Strachan), Ross, Donaldson, Redman, Cowie, Gilfillan (Brown), Rodgers, McAllister (McLaren); Unused: MacDonald (GK), McCann, Richardson, Buchan.