Edinburgh City 1 Queen’s Park 2

Well, wasn’t that a “capital” afternoon for Ray McKinnon’s Spiders? Finally winning a game at the Ainslie Park home of title-chasing Edinburgh City would have been enough on its own to justify calling it a good day.

It becomes even better when you throw in a couple of extras like the fact we gave them a goal of a start and came back to claim victory. And it can’t have gone unnoticed that other results in the league went our way, meaning we’re now just two points away from a play-off place at the right end of the table … and 10 points clear of problems at the other end.

No wonder the noise coming from the QP dressing room after the game suggested a bunch of happy chappies were thoroughly enjoying the moment.

Those celebrations, however, looked a long way off for much of the day. The drive through to Edinburgh suggested a miserable afternoon lay in store, with driving rain and gales to contend with.

The rain had eased somewhat by the time the game started, but the wind was still sweeping across the playing surface.

Despite the problems, Queen’s started well. There had been a lot of debate pre-match about the line-up our new gaffer would employ. And even when the names were revealed, there were still more questions than answers. As expected, David Galt and Nicky Jamieson returned, with Luke Main and the injured Calvin McGrory making way.

However, with Billy Mortimer, Ciaran Summers, Ryan Finnie, Cammy Foy and Creag Little also involved, we seemed to have a surplus of defenders. The Ray McKinnon cunning solution was to push Finnie forward into a midfield role, allowing the three recognised central defenders to form the backbone of the defence, flanked by Mortimer and Summers.

The rest of the team was along familiar lines, and from the start, they settled well. Within two minutes the Spiders could have been ahead, and with the form he has been in of late, Salim Kouider-Aissa will feel he should at least have hit the target when a pinpoint free-kick delivery from Joffrey Lidouren arrived on his napper at the back post.

Kieran Moore and Salim then combined well to set up another wee chance after 11 minutes. The final shot from Salim didn’t trouble keeper Martin. But that was certainly not the case seconds later when a belter of a ball from Finnie gave Salim the chance to bullet a header goalwards. Somehow Martin managed to get a hand to the point-blank header and divert it to safety.

Still the tide flowed towards the home goal and a couple of penalty shouts for possible hand ball went unheeded. Finnie was looking at home in his new position, knocking the ball about to good effect. The pressure on the home side became evident when they conceded a succession of fouls, the last of which, on Mortimer, brought a booking for Billy’s former Spider colleague Liam Brown.

That booking came in the fifteenth minute of a game where Queen’s were well on top and had already spurned two great chances. Those who have followed the Spiders for longer than 10 minutes  will not need to ask what happened next.

After 17 minutes, City mounted their first serious attack. Shepherd was allowed to run way too far with the ball and was only halted by a needless foul in a dangerous position. Thomson swung the ball in; Henderson was given the freedom of Edinburgh and nodded the home side in front with ease.

The goal knocked the Spiders out of their stride and City began to look confident, passing the ball about at the back to force Queen’s to do the chasing. They did the chasing all right, but never managed to threaten Martin, while Muir also had a quiet afternoon with nothing but the occasional cross to come for.

The only event to trouble the scribes in the next 25 minutes was a booking for a Thomson foul on Galt.

What was looking like a bad afternoon got even worse for the Spiders two minutes from the interval when Jamieson – who had been a doubt before the game – suffered what looked like a hamstring problem and was forced to limp off, with Main coming on to replace him.

The change of personnel saw Finnie switched to central defence, with young Luke taking up his customary midfield role.

That was the last action of a 45 minutes that had started promisingly for Queen’s, but ended with the visiting fans distinctly subdued.

Half time

Edinburgh City 1 Queen’s Park 0

The first half finished with an injury substitution for Queen’s; the second period started in similar vein, with City’s Laird being forced to limp off after five minutes and be replaced by Stewart.

The game had become almost as dreich as the weather, but a couple of blue-sky moments brightened the day for all who had journeyed through from Mount Florida.

It won’t be a great surprise to learn that the goals which turned the game on its head had made in Galt written all over them. With 52 minutes on the clock, David curled in a left foot cross from a difficult angle. Charging in at the back post came the wing-back turned goal machine that is the rejuvenated Mortimer. Billy had to adjust well to steer a header back beyond Martin and into the net – and from almost nowhere, the Spiders were on level terms again.

Just four minutes later, things got even better. A delightful through ball from Galt released Salim, and this time the striker made no mistake, composing himself before burying the ball past the helpless keeper.

The Spiders’ support was now in dreamland, while the good Citizens of Edinburgh were finding things a tad hard to take. Just a few minutes earlier, it looked as if City would be going top of the table; now they had to work to salvage anything from the game.

Brown was replaced by Crane as the home side attempted to turn the tide. Despite their best efforts, the closest they came in the middle stages of the half was when Court fizzed a ball in from the left that flew all the way across Muir’s goal. Thankfully for the Spiders, there was nobody in a City jersey on hand to give the cross the finish it deserved.

Queen’s entered the closing stages with the lead … and without having been under the type of pressure they might have expected. But the Spiders don’t do comfortable victories and managed to pack enough scares into the final few minutes to put your scribe’s blood pressure into regions that it should not go anywhere near.

There seemed little danger when a hopeful City punt sailed towards our back line. But that changed as a sliced clearance sent the ball behind for a corner.

The first delivery was headed behind for another corner, and this one produced the type of mayhem that no manager ever wants to see. Thomson’s delivery was wicked and Newman – who had been on the park just a few minutes after replacing Harris – thought he’d earned the super-sub tag. Somehow, his effort was blocked and the ball ping-ponged about the QP box before finally being scrambled away for another corner. This one was cleared in a more routine manner and the visiting fans (almost) dared to open their eyes again!

The frustration among the home players was palpable and resulted in them giving away a series of silly fouls that allowed Queen’s to wind down the clock in time-honoured fashion. A spot of keep-ball at the City corner flag was followed by a late, late substitution which saw Mr Perpetual Motion, Kieran Moore, getting a wee rest with Alfie Agyeman coming on.

Referee Grainger was unimpressed by the “delaying tactics”, however, and allowed the clock to run well past the 90 minutes. In fact, we were into the 96th minute before the whistler finally brought proceedings to a close and confirmed that the Spiders had weathered the storm and recorded their first victory at Ainslie Park.

All things considered, this was certainly a good day for all those who bleed Black and White. Given the nature of the cruel game that is football, there will be bad days somewhere ahead. And our new Gaffer will have to work some special kind of magic if he is to keep his winning run going next weekend when we travel to Ayrshire for a cup tie against Premier League Kilmarnock.

That’s for the future, for now just enjoy this final scoreline from today’s Capital clash:
Edinburgh City 1, Queen’s Park 2.

Keep the Faith!

Queen’s Park: Willie Muir, Billy Mortimer, Ryan Finnie, Ciaran Summers, Creag Little, Cameron Foy, Nicky Jamieson, Salim Kouider-Aissa, Joffrey Lidouren, David Galt, Kieran Moore. Subs: Luke Main, Scott Gibson, Cameron Clark, James Grant, Jack Purdue, Alfredo Agyeman, Jacques Heraghty.

Ray speaks to QPTV after the game