Queen’s Park 0 Arbroath 2

WE didn’t need last week’s desperate detour defeat at Stranraer to confirm it will be a long, hard season for Queen’s Park, but it certainly drove home that painful reality.
Gus MacPherson’s squad performed heroically last season, punching so far above their weight to finish sixth, but this second season in League One will be a severe test of our spirit and resolve — and that’s just the supporters!
That 3-0 loss at Stair Park, when we continued to leak bad goals, consigned us to the bottom of the table. The bookies reckon we’ll stay there. It’s hard to argue, with just eight points from 12 games and nine goals scored and 29 conceded.
We’re still chasing our first home league win after six games at Hampden, and things won’t get any easier with the visit of Arbroath’s  experienced squad today, not when Gus MacPherson’s already stretched resources have suffered further hits.
Ciaran Summers, one of our most consistent players this season, came off injured last week after a shocking tackle by Jamie Hamill at Stranraer, so there was no surprise when he failed to make today’s squad.
Keeper Willie Muir was out with a knee injury and replaced by Michael White, and David Galt had also picked up a knock and didn’t figure, making it a busy Hampden treatment room with Ewan MacPherson, Michael Bailey, and Kevin Green having already taken up hopefully temporary residence there.
Arbroath, who beat Queen’s 2-0 up at Gayfield in August, are nine points and five places above the Spiders, and visit Hampden after successive defeats at East Fife and at home to league leaders Ayr United.
They had in their defence former Spider Ricky Little, who is surely now entering the gnarled veteran stage.
Then again, at what stage is Arbroath keeper Rab Douglas, still playing between the sticks at 45! Good on him.
After a minute’s silence for Armistice Day, Queen’s kicked-off defending the home end on a bitterly cold but so far dry afternoon.
And it was a bright start by the Spiders, Donnelly and Duff working the ball down the right, and Burns winning a free-kick when it was switched left.
Cummins got in a strong header from Brady’s free-kick, but a defensive header diverted the ball over the bar.
Michael White got a confident first touch on his leage debut, racing from his area to boot clear, but he produced a marvellous save in eight minutes to deny the visitors.
It was actually a double save after a goalmouth scramble, first knocking away a shot from Linn and then diving to his right to get a very strong hand to a Whatley drive and turn it round a post.
Arbroath, in all maroon kit, looked very quick on the break and sharp up front with the movement of Swankie, Linn and Denholm, but it was Queen’s who went close in 15 minutes and from a very unlikely source, Gibson getting on the end of Brady’s low free-kick and knocking the ball narrowly wide with a backheel.
I did say Abroath looked sharp up front, and they proved it in 18 minutes with a fine opening goal.
There looked little danger as that perenniel menace Swankie got involved in an interchange of passes 20 yards out, but with his back to goal he suddenly spun and thrashed a right-foot shot wide of White. You had to say, through gritted teeth, good goal.
Docherty from distance was not too far wide and Brady shot over as Queen’s tried to hit back.
Cummins was unlucky again in 32 minutes with another header from Brady’s delivery, this one was netbound before Hamilton popped up to head it off the line, then Douglas got down well to intercept and hold a dangerous Millen cross.
The rest of the half was stalemate, with Queen’s holding their own at the back while not putting Douglas under any pressure.
Still, a vast improvement on last week.

Half-time: Queen’s Park 0 Arbroath 1

Good play down the right by Burns and Donnelly put Millen through to win a corner on the restart and there was a distinct feeling of deja vu as Cummins rose at the far post and headed Brady’s corner wide. No third time lucky for Scouse, then.
But Arbroath showed Queen’s how to exploit a corner in 55 minutes when they made it 2-0.
Linn’s corner from the left found Martin unmarked in the crowded box, his shot was well saved by White, but Hamilton was on his own to fire the loose ball into the roof of the net.
Gus MacPherson then made a quick change, taking off Iredale and sending on young Lewis Magee for his senior competitive debut.
As you’d expect, there was no lack of fight from Queen’s. Gibson fired over a tremendous cross that was taken off Donnelly’s head, and then the Spiders defender repeated the feat with a teaser that Hamilton bundled for a corner.
There should have been a booking for Hamilton when he tried to trip Fotheringham as the Spider broke clear, but the book did come out for Millen after a foul in 66 minutes.
Arbroath sent on Henry and Gold for Linn and Kader a minute later, and Queen’s youngster James MacLennan replaced Docherty and joined Donnelly up front.
Yule was booked for a payback foul on Brady in 71 minutes, and two minutes later the Arbroath defender made way for Prunty.
Fotheringham was booked in 78 minutes and two minutes later Orr replaced Donnelly.
Apart from the goals there was not a lot to get excited about. Michael White did very well and had no chance with either goal, but the sad fact is, Rab Douglas didn’t have a save to make. At this rate he could be a football pensioner.
Queen’s now embark on a four-game run that starts next week by hosting Dunfermline in the Scottish Cup and includes visits to League Two leaders Raith Rovers and Ayr United. “Keep The Faith” suddenly feels somewhat inadequate.
Queen’s Park: Michael White, Ross Millen, Scott Gibson, Jack Iredale, Adam Cummins, Gregor Fotheringham, Luke Donnelly Dominic Docherty, Chris Duff, Anton Brady, Sean Burns. Subs: Thomas Orr, Conor McVey, Luke Whelan, Lewis McGhee, James MacLennan, Owen Stott.
Arbroath: Rab Douglas, Colin Hamilton, Ricky Little, Thomas O’Brien, Blair Yule, Bobby Linn, Mark Whatley, Omar Kader, Scott Martin, Gavin Swankie, Danny Denholm. Subs: Kane Hester, Bryan Prunty, Ryan McCord, Jamie Henry, David Gold, David Hutton (GK).
Referee: Craig Charleston.