Ian Black


Clyde 0

IT SAYS something about a goalkeeper when she is named woman-of-the-match despite letting in nine goals and if it hadn't been for Clyde keeper Susan Flannigan (Magoo to her team-mates) it would have been a lot more than nine, as Stenhousemuir overwhelmed Clyde in Saturday's Scottish Cup final at Forthbank Stadium in Stirling.

The road to the final had seen Clyde secure good wins over

Stirling, Paisley Northend, and Dundee United, while Stenhousemuir disposed of Glasgow City, Kilmarnock, and the much-fancied Ayr United, whom they thumped 4-0, but the difference in speed and fitness was evident early doors when Nicky Grant scored the first of her four in seven minutes after springing Clyde's erratic offside trap.

Clyde persisted in pushing up to the half-way line, and it seemed their only tactic was to try to keep the score down, but they were not helped by referee Robert Hunter, who, aided by his assistants, gave a series of non-decisions on offside which had Clyde's bench apoplectic.

Seventeen-year-old internationalist Karen Peglase added the second in 22 minutes, and then proceeded to agitate the photographers present by pulling her top over her head during her scoring celebration.

Flanagan must have felt just about as exposed, as, time after time, she was left to the none-too-tender mercies of Stenhousemuir's speedy strikers. Three goals in a five-minute spell saw an end to the game as any kind of contest, with another 17-year-old internationalist, Lyn Cullen, carrying the ball for 40 yards virtually un-opposed before scoring, followed by a well-deserved goal from team captain Shelley Valle.

Nicky Grant popped in the fifth, then in 40 minutes the best player on the field, Scotland captain Linda Brown, almost succeeded in bursting the net after Cullen created a huge gap in the Clyde defence.

At half-time, 6-0 up, there were some happy faces among the vociferous supporters of the Warriors. One of them, who would be the first to say that he is not in the first flower of his youth, was Stenhousemuir groundsman Jimmy Cuthill. He said: ''Ach, I've kind of formed an attachment for the lassies, that's why I'm here.''

Retired sales manager Donald Smillie was more forthright for his reason for attending, saying: ''It's the only chance I'll ever get to see Stenhousemuir lifting the Scottish Cup, and if the men's team had some of the touches the girls have got, they'd be a better team.''

He went on: ''I can't stand the number of men who criticise without seeing a game. It's fair enough if they come along to the game and criticise, but they can't just dismiss it by saying 'women's football' and leaving it at that.

The Stenhousemuir keeper, Lynn Watson, was subbed at the start of the second half, presumably to save her from dying of boredom, as she and her replacement did not have a single shot to deal with, and the game proceeded as in the first half, but a little slower paced, as the internationals who make up most of the Warriors side were perhaps looking forward to next Sunday's game at Forthbank against Croatia, where a win could see Scotland reach the play-offs for the European Championships, or perhaps they were still feeling the effects of their hard-fought league game on Thursday, when they beat rivals Ayr United 2-1.

Three goals, the first two from Nicky Grant, the second of which was a mile offside, and another from Brown, completed the scoring. A group of sub-teens were chanting: ''Can they keep it down to nine?'' as the game ran its course, and the only surprising thing was that Pauline Hamill didn't manage to score, despite a world record number of one-on-ones with the Clyde keeper.

Afterwards, she said: ''I could have played there all day without scoring. It was a mixture of bad finishing and good goalkeeping.''

The Clyde bench, displaying tact and good grammar, said: ''The better team won but we'll bounce back next year.''

Their keeper said of her award: ''I'm embarrassed. I let in nine and I'm player-of-the-match?''

But she was.