Albion Rovers 0 Queen’s Park 3

Queen’s made it four wins on the bounce as they recorded a 3-0 victory away to Albion Rovers. But while the scoreline might suggest a walk in the park for the Spiders, the reality was that they had to work very hard for the result.

The first half in particular was a strange one for the visitors, who were a bit under the cosh for much of the 45 minutes … but went in at the break leading 2-0.

Going into the game, Queen’s were on a good run, with confidence high after successive cup victories. Rovers on the other hand had lost their manager, crashed out of the Scottish Cup – and were anchored at the foot of the table. The bookies would have called this an away banker; those who follow Queen’s would have called it a grade one banana skin!

Given our form of late, it was no surprise to see Mark Roberts go with the same starting XI from last week.  But it was a bit of a shocker to see Rovers spring out of the traps like the proverbial greyhound, knocking the ball forward with purpose. They should have taken the lead within 90 seconds of the start, but Cunningham saw his low shot turned round the post by Hart after the striker was put clean through.

The corner was cleared and Queen’s went upfield for the first time after three minutes. Ciaran Summers won possession, Josh Peters and Euan East took things forward before the winger turned Fagan every which way but loose and cut the ball back into the stride of Lewis Hawke who finished with aplomb to put the visitors 1-0 ahead.

Rovers could have been forgiven for letting the heads drop  after that sickener, but instead romped straight back on the attack and Hart saved well from Fisher. James Grant then had to be alert to clear a dangerous cross behind for a corner which was well defended.

It was then all hands to the pump as Rovers tried everything to grab the equaliser. Gerry McLauchlan, Dom McLaren and Kurtis Roberts all got in the way of dangerous efforts, with Hart coming to claim one of the many corners which were swung in on the QP goal.

Approaching the end of the first 15 minutes, it looked as if a goal had to come, and come it did – but despite all their pressing – it wasn’t for the home side. Jamie McKernon produced the classic piece of harrying what seemed a lost cause and managed to nick the ball from Fagan. Not content with that, the wee man kept his composure to bear down on goal and chose the perfect moment to roll the ball past the helpless Morrison and put the Spiders 2-0 ahead.

Surely that would knock the stuffing out of the struggling Rovers … not a bit of it. They kept plugging away and had a big penalty shout after 23 minutes when McLauchlan went in hard on Wilson. To the delight of the visiting fans, however, “Gerree” had timed the challenge to perfection, and another fruitless corner was all we had to defend.

As we came to the end of the first 30 minutes, Roberts again proved his defensive worth with a vital clearance at the far post. Fair to say that at this stage, the scoreline didn’t reflect the play. Queen’s were struggling to get hold of the ball; struggling to keep the ball when they did gain possession – but were 2-0 ahead. Go figure!

It’s got to be said, however, that such thoughts were far from the mind of the visiting supporters who were simply loving a day of payback after all the times in the past where the Spiders had dominated opponents and somehow managed to lose 1-0.

And Queen’s again showed the goal threat they posed after 35 minutes when another quick break gave Peters the chance to test Morrison. On this occasion, however, the keeper won the battle … and after saving the first shot, got quickly to his feet to block the effort on the rebound.

Watson became the first player booked a couple of moments later when he saw yellow for diving in the QP box.

There were signs that the worst of the storm had passed as we approached the interval, and Hawke almost made it three with a smart shot on the turn which Morrison did well to clutch.

Right on the whistle, Rovers were forced into their first change when McLear went off to be replaced by Forrester.

It was the last action of a first half that was thoroughly enjoyed by all the visiting camp and ended with the score:

Albion Rovers 0 Queen’s Park 2

The Gaffer made his first change at the interval, bringing on the lively Kieran Moore for Peters. The swap almost paid quick dividends as the first attack of the second period saw Moore break clear and feed the ball into Hawke, but his effort was blocked.

Forrester then tried to help Rovers regain some momentum, but could only shoot wide from a promising position.

Summers fired a free-kick into the defensive wall after more good attacking play from the Spiders, and even at this early stage in the half, there was a totally different feel to the game. Queen’s now looked far more comfortable, and some of the sting had gone out of the home side’s attacks.

On the hour, McLauchlan had the ball in the Rovers’ net, but the GPS (Goalkeepers’ Protection Society) sprang into action and a foul was awarded for a challenge on Morrison.

Fisher went into the book for a tackle on the irrepressible McKernon, who yet again covered every inch of the surface in his determination to drive Queen’s forward.

The home side made their second change after 67 minutes to try to get back into the game, replacing Cunningham with Watters. Queen’s responded soon after, giving Gregor Fotheringham a run and allowing Kurtis Roberts a wee breather after another productive shift.

What had been a bright, if chilly, afternoon became a miserable one weatherwise as hail and rain sent spectators scurrying for cover and the groundsman rushing to get the floodlights on as the skies darkened.

But there were no mistakes to dampen the spirits on the field as the Spiders rebuffed a series of attacks from Rovers, with McLauchlan, McKernon and Co showing a real appetite for the “dirty” jobs of chasing back and tackling whenever danger threatened.

After a spot of ping-pong in the QP box was finally cleared, Queen’s made their final change, bringing on Smart Osadolor for Euan East.

Into the last 10 minutes, and Moore again did well to break down the right and roll the ball across the six-yard box. It was an invitation to score, but an invitation declined as no visiting attacker could get the decisive touch needed.

Moments later, the misery continued for the home side as Fisher was dismissed after picking up a second yellow card. It was a bit harsh, but summed up the way things tend to go when you’re down at the bottom.

Right on time, Queen’s put the icing on the cake when Osadolor latched onto a Moore pass to knock the ball beyond Morrison. It was the striker’s fourth goal of the week after he notched three in a reserve league game against Raith Rovers, and says much about the current QP squad … who have goals in abundance among their ranks.

The whistle sounded soon almost immediately to give us a very pleasing final score of Albion Rovers 0 Queen’s Park 3.

It’s not all that often we’ll come away from Coatbridge with such a scoreline in the hamper, and if we’re being honest, it could have been a different story. We were not at our best in the first period, but when you’ve got defenders who look on a goal against the team as a personal insult, and attackers who like nothing better than plonking the ball in the opposition net, then you’ve always got a chance.

Such is the fickle nature of football, that there will be days ahead when we will play much better than we did today … and come out on the wrong side of the result. But for the moment, let’s just enjoy this one, and look forward to four home games on the bounce.

Keep the Faith.