Toon rue missed opportunities

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PETERHEAD were left ruing missed opportunities as they kicked-off their Third Division campaign with a defeat at Clyde.

John Sweeney’s goal on the stroke of half-time gave the hosts the initiative after a quiet first half, and Steph McDonald added a second with 15 minutes remaining to seal the points for the home side.

But the Blue Toon had only themselves to blame as a combination of poor finishing and fine performance from Clyde’s on-loan Dundee United ‘keeper Filip Mentel kept them at bay.

Kick-off was delayed six minutes while the home side’s ground staff rectified an error which had seen one of the penalty spots painted ten rather than 12-yards out.

It was a scrappy opening with neither side rally imposing themselves, though John Sheran’s men were first to have a sight of goal, Martin Bavidge working space for a left-foot shot from Davie Donald’s throw, only to see his effort flash across Mentel’s goal.

The Bully Wee would have been disappointed not to have put a makeshift Peterhead backline under any real pressure during the early exchanges.

With Callum Macdonald and Scott Ross suspended, and Ryan Strachan and Barry Sellars out through injury, Alan Rattray and Roy McBain played in the centre of defence, with Lewis Davidson at right-back and Donald on the left.

But when Jim Duffy’s side eventually did threaten, it came from a set piece. Lee Sharp touched a free kick to Paul Hay 25-yards out, and he thundered an effort narrowly wide of Raymond Jellema’s right-hand post.

Peterhead’s Paul Watson unleashed a half-volley from similar range two minutes later, but saw his effort pushed away by Mentel, before Clyde took the lead in first-half injury time.

John Sweeney had seen a tame effort easily held by Jellema but just moments later he strode forward from midfield and drilled an unstoppable shot beyond the former Hamilton goalkeeper from 25 yards.

It was the second successive week Peterhead had fallen behind just before the interval, and would test their character in their attempts to get back into the game.

Certainly they created chances, with Rory McAllister heading wide of the target from a Donald cross just after the break, though Jellema was called into action to save from Clyde defender Gordon McQueen at the other end.

Watson saw a bicycle kick fly wide of the upright from a Graeme Sharp cross, and as the play swung from end-to-end, Jellema was tested again, this time turning a Liam Cusack shot onto the post with his legs.

Peterhead swiftly broke upfield again, and Bryan Deasley saw a low effort from the edge of the area comfortably saved, although there were other options on for the flying winger.

With 65 minutes gone, Peterhead went close again as Donald broke forward and slipped in McAllister. Mentel appeared to have it covered but the ball slid through the legs of the goalkeeper, who recovered just in time to keep it out.

The former Brechin striker was denied again seconds later, holding off his man to get into the area, only to see Mentel spread himself to block as McAllister tried to find the far corner.

Despite their efforts to draw level, the Blue Toon were his with a sucker punch on 75 minutes, as the home side doubled their advantage.

Sweeney’s throw was flicked on by McQueen, and McDonald got in front of Davidson to flick a header in at the far post.

To their credit, Peterhead continued to probe for a way back into the game, but their luck in front of goal was summed up when Deasley’s corner was flicked on by substitute Dave Ross at the near post.

Rattray threw himself at the ball to force home only to see it crash back off the bar, before Mentel grasped Watson’s header.

Watson sent an injury time free kick narrowly over the crossbar as a frustrating performance came to an end for Sheran’s men, who now have to pick themselves up quickly for a double-header against Annan Athletic.

The sides meet in the second round of the Ramsdens League Challenge Cup tonight (Tuesday) at Galabank, before Harry Cairney’s side make the trip to Balmoor on Saturday.

PETERHEAD: Jellema, Davidson, Donald, McBain, Rattray, Redman, Sharp (D. Ross, 75), Watson, McAllister, Bavidge (Conway, 61), Deasley. Subs not used: Wyness, Young, Duffy (gk)

Attendance: 711