Gary Jardine was unequivocal in his criticism of his players’ inability to defend set-pieces during a second half collapse that saw Edinburgh City lose 3-1 at Clyde.
Lewis Allan’s first-half strike had City ahead after a 45 minutes in which they were easily the better side, but Matty Flynn’s volley and a Peter MacDonald double gave the hosts a first league win in four months.
“I can tell you the difference in two sentences,” said Jardine. “Clyde’s ability to score from set-pieces will keep them in the league. Our inability to defend them is going to be enough to take us down. If we don’t start defending them properly, we’re going to be very close to the bottom come May.
“It was two set-plays, two balls in the box, second phase and they’ve got it. Clyde are good at it, but if we could say it was a one-off then we’d move on. There was a bit of straight talking going on in the dressing room. We need to change the way we stand up and are counted in this league.”
Connor Quinn had the ball in his hands early, but Marc Laird’s header from a John Dunn cross was comfortable for the young Clyde keeper.
Mis-communication between Andrew Stobie and Aaron Dunsmore at the other end almost gave MacDonald an open goal, but a heavy touch from Clyde’s player/joint-manager let the City pair off the hook.
A fine bit of football brought about the opening goal for the visitors on 22 minutes. Neat play between Dunn, Walker and Laird in the middle of the park culminated in the latter sliding a great through ball in behind for Allan. The on-loan Hibs youngster easily out-paced Chris Smith before confidently dispatching past Quinn.
Jardine’s team looked more likely to add to their lead than Clyde did to levelling, with frustration audibly growing from the home fans, although it remained just the one goal deficit as the half-time whistle blew.
That it was wiped out within five minutes of the restart would have frustrated Jardine. Ewan McNeil’s straight delivery was knocked down to Flynn, who volleyed past Stobie from around ten yards.
A seemingly unlikely turnaround was complete before the hour. Stobie came for the initial cross but couldn’t hold on. That allowed David Gormley to chip it back over his head for MacDonald, who couldn’t miss from barely two yards.
Quinn then stayed big to deny Allan after Laird had put him in on goal again. The rebound eventually made it’s way to the incoming Laird, who was unfortunate to see his firm header go narrowly over.
MacDonald’s second of the game put the result beyond doubt with 12 minutes left. A through ball from Scott Ferguson put him in, and he drilled across Stobie in to the far corner for 3-1.
Dougie Gair almost set up a nervy finish for the Bully Wee with a stinging angled volley, but saw it thump off of Quinn’s crossbar.
Jardine’s hope is that the first-half performance will be the norm for City from now on. “I thought we were fantastic in the first half. We played how we train and what we want to achieve in the game and probably the disappointment was only going in one up.
“Pride comes before a fall. We were proud of coming from behind on Wednesday, proud of our performance last week against the league leaders, but as soon as you take your foot off the pedal at this level, you’re put to the sword.”
Clyde: Quinn, McNeil, McMillan, Smith, McNiff, Ferguson (McKenzie 86), Flynn, McLaughlin, Johnston, MacDonald (Higgins 82), Gormley.
Edinburgh City: Stobie, Caddow, Mbu, Porteous, Laird, Dunsmore (Guthrie 78), Walker (Donaldson 65), Gair, Allan, Riordan (Beattie 74), Dunn.