Queen’s Park 1 Motherwell 5
The calendar may tell us it’s July and the dreich Glasgow weather may confirm it’s the annual Fair holiday weekend, but it’s the heart that tells us the most important story … football is back. And no matter how much the garden may plead for attention, there really only is one place to be this afternoon and that’s the Hampden home of football where Queen’s Park welcome Motherwell on cup business.

It’s been an unusual summer break in some respects for the mighty Spiders as we celebrated our 150th birthday just a couple of weeks ago. Although Homer and Gulliver both missed out on the party, by all accounts everything went well and there are a few more citizens now aware of the real nature and impact that senior football’s only amateur club has had on the beautiful game.

Birthdays apart, some aspects of the break never change and the QP management team have been busy recruiting fresh talent for the campaign ahead. The ranks of the juveniles, amateurs, juniors and fellow senior clubs have produced the influx which boss Gus MacPherson hopes will stand us in good stead for the challenges ahead.

Inevitably, we have also lost one or two influential players to the paid ranks – notably Ryan McGeever and Jamie McKernon – and we will also be without the services of the promising Cameron Foy for a while after he suffered a nasty knee injury. We wish him a full recovery.

So an interesting mixture of the old and the new greeted the QP faithful (and the TV cameras) as the sides emerged for this BetFred League Cup tie.

Willie Muir was the welcome sight between the sticks, although with our Premier League opponents having strengthened their squad during the summer with recruits from the like of the English Premier League, he was likely to have a busy afternoon.

Muir’s defence also had some familiar faces, with Ross Millen, Adam Cummins and Sean Burns all back in place. They were joined by the first of the newbies – Kevin Green from Rob Roy and Ryan Docherty from Rutherglen Glecairn. For Kevin, it was actually a return to QP as he was here as a boy.

The midfield places were filled by Conor McVey, Dominic Docherty, David Galt and Anton Brady, while another new arrival, Thomas Orr from Morton, was charged with providing the goal threat.

The bench was also a mixture of old and new with Bryan Wharton, Christopher Duff, David Green, Michael Bailey, William Mortimer, Ewan MacPherson and Michael White standing by to make an impact.

Queen’s started well enough after the tv preliminaries and looked keen to get the ball down and play. Motherwell for their part were happy to suss us out and bide their time.

Fisher provided the first threat after five minutes when he beat the offside line, but Muir beat him to the through ball.

The move gave the visitors encouragement however and they took full advantage after 10 minutes. With defender Docherty temporarily off the field, Fisher chested a through ball into the path of Cadden, who buried it behind Muir.

The lead could have been doubled soon after as a lightning break ended with Fisher heading narrowly over. It was already clear this was going to be a tough, tough test.

The pressure continued towards the home goal, but the Spiders held out without too many serious scares – and did have their own wee moment as the halfway point approached. Galt led the break and fed a lovely ball through to Orr, who held it up well while waiting on support. The support did arrive, but too slowly and we were crowded out.

Galt was looking like a man on a mission, however, and he played a big part in getting Queen’s back on level terms on 23 minutes. The midfielder swung in a great ball from a free-kick and Cummins rose highest to glance a header goalwards. Carson got to the header right underneath the bar, but couldn’t get it far enough away and Big Adam followed up to bundle the ball over the line to make the score 1-1.

The Spiders grew in confidence, and enjoyed a good 10-minute spell when they displayed the kind of passing game that has delighted followers for 150 years.

They couldn’t find another goal, and the Premier League side began to recover their composure. Queen’s did well to stand firm as a couple of dangerous corners were swung in, and as the half entered its closing stages, there was little doubt that Gus MacPherson would be the happier manager.

Muir did well to clutch a dangerous cross from Tait as Fisher waited to pounce, then Green showed admirable composure to break up another menacing attack.

Orr showed his grit after 43 minutes when he held off Hammell to get to a through ball from Galt. But although he got a shot away, it didn’t trouble Carson.

It was the last action of a hugely encouraging half for Queen’s and it ended with the score:

Queen’s Park 1 Motherwell 1

The visitors came out for the second period with a determined look on their faces – and no doubt with a flea in their collective ears. Galt blocked the first cross of the half after seven seconds – an indication perhaps of what was to come.

Queen’s showed they weren’t just here to make up the numbers with a sweet break after 48 minutes. Millen burst forward and fed Dominic Docherty who was unlucky to see his flick on cut out by Heneghan.

The traffic was soon flowing back in the direction of our goals and although Muir wasn’t troubled, it was evident that this was going to be a supreme test of our fitness levels as well as everything else.

With 52 minutes on the clock disaster struck and the saddest thing is that it was a Motherwell goal made in Mount Florida. We tried to play our way out of a tight situation; lost possession inside our own box – and were then helpless as Tanner exchanged passes and hammered the ball home.

The visitors sensed that another goal would kill the tie, and went for it with a vengeance. As another header flashed over Muir’s bar, Gus decided it was time for a change and brought on Duff for Ryan Docherty.

Chris moved into midfield; Burns moved to full back, and the Spiders regrouped.

Motherwell made their first change on the hour, replacing Bigirimana with Rose.

Frear won a foul after 62 minutes and Tanner’s ball in caused a few worries before Muir grabbed a ricocheted clearance.

To say the visitors were on top at this stage was an understatement as we just couldn’t get out of our own danger area. Green had to go some to block a Cadden effort, while Cummins rose highest as another Tanner corner threatened.

With two-thirds of the tie gone, Duff produced a lovely break and played in Orr who had to be stopped – and was – by a great Hammell tackle.

The visitors made their second change at this point, giving the dangerous Fisher a rest and introducing Bowman.

Orr had put in a tremendous shift and earned a well-deserved ovation as he was brought off to be replaced by MacPherson with 17 minutes remaining.

However, it was another sub who made the scoreboard tick on after 74 minutes as Bowman rounded Muir and scored with ease. It will be a good one to see on the action replay tonight as the striker looked to be bordering on offside.

No matter, the goal stood and we then had the biggest cheer of the afternoon as the visiting fans’ favourite, Louis Moult came on to replace Tait.

The ruthless nature of the game was evident in 76 minutes when Bowman capitalised on  some uncertainty in a tiring defence and lobbed Muir to make the score 4-1. The danger was now that a bad defeat would become a rout and Queen’s had to dig deep with only pride at stake.

We threatened after 80 minutes when Galt worked clear on the left, but Carson grabbed his deflected cross before MacPherson could pounce.

Moments later, Referee Robertson awarded Motherwell a corner to the surprise of even the visiting players. What was no surprise was that as the ball came in, the whistler spotted a foul for Queen’s and although the ball was driven into the home net, Robertson had long since blown.

Five minutes from time, it was 5-1 as sub Moult blasted home a free-kick from outside the box.

David Green – who has actually played for the QP first team in a “previous existence” – came on to join brother Kevin as we tried to make it to the final whistle without suffering further punishment.

We nearly did much better right on the 90 minutes when MacPherson fed Burns and his cut-back was fired goalwards by Duff, forcing Carson into an acrobatic tip over. The corner was cleared as far as Docherty and he was unlucky to see his drive narrowly clear the bar.

The last action of the match saw a curling free-kick from Burns clear the bar as it finished:

Queen’s Park 1 Motherwell 5.

The gulf in class was there to see, but the first good news for the Spiders is that they won’t face opposition of the quality of Motherwell – or indeed our next opponents, Morton – every week.

The second plus point is that we did play some lovely football in places and when experience helps Gus’ men know when to play pretty and when to find row Z, we’ll do OK.

We’re off on another roller-coaster, but the message remains the same; “Keep the Faith.”