Queen’s Park 3 Edinburgh City 0

AFTER their exertions against two full-time teams, Queen’s Park face a very different Betfred Cup challenge today against up-and-coming Edinburgh City.

We beat the capital side two years ago in the Petrofac Cup — and needed a penalty shoot-out in what Homer remembers was a poor goalless game on a very dry and rutted Meadowbank — but the SPFL’s newest club have come a long way since then.

Queen’s recovered from their 5-1 opening-day Betfred defeat to Premiership Motherwell with a fighting 2-2 draw at Championship Morton on Tuesday, losing the penalty shoot-out 4-2.

It was an encouraging performance at Cappielow, despite conceding a two-goal lead, but today it will be our turn to be Group F favourites and we’ll be expected to make all the running.

No doubt with an eye on our League One opener, Gus MacPherson made four changes from the side that started at Morton.

Ex-Junior wing back Michael Bailey came in for his debut, midfielder David Green made his first start, and David Galt and Ton scorer Thomas Orr started up front.

Queen’s lined up 3-5-2, with Ross Millen, Kevin Green and Bryan Wharton behind Bailey, David Green, Dom Docherty, Anton Brady and skipper Sean Burns, and Orr and Galt up top. And, of course, Willie Muir was between the sticks after his busy night in Greenock.

City, who comfortably established themselves in League Two last season, opened this season with a shoot-out win over Berwick in midweek.

Today is their first-ever game at Hampden Park, although former Celtic and Scotland striker Craig Beattie, now a veteran centre-half and sub today with City, for one is no stranger to the National Stadium.

Alas, we will not have the assistance of Hampden’s electronic scoreboards to record the time and add to the excitement this season.

To meet Uefa requirements for hosting Euro 2020 games they were upgraded — and very big they look, too — but they are now too expensive to be used without a sponsor.

Rain was falling from a grey sky and the lights were on as City kicked off. Summer football, eh?

An uneventful first 10 minutes gave Homer the chance to put faces to names, seeing the team for the first time since Gus remodelled his squad.

Bailey and David Green were busy early on down the right, and Kevin Green got in one good block from Grimes, but we hit the 15-minute mark and neither keeper had been asked to dirty his gloves, though both sides looked anxious to get the ball down and pass it.

The first corner came in 16 minutes, won for Queen’s by Bailey down the right, but like the action so far it was off target.

But there was much better to cheer in 19 minutes when Queen’s took the lead.

Orr showed good tenacity to keep the ball on the left byeline and then skip inside a defender before playing in Burns, whose slide-rule pass across the face of the goal was touched in at the near post by Docherty for his first Queen’s goal.

Kevin Green came to the rescue of brother David, who gave the wall away to Grimes and was grateful when his sibling cut out a dangerous-looking through pass with Queen’s back-pedalling.

Sean Mackie got the game’s first yellow for a foot-up challenge on Galt in 37 minutes, and when Brady won another free kick deep on the left, Queen’s came so close to a second goal.

In what looked like a training ground move, Galt swung the ball to the far post, Kevin Green rose to knock down a header, and Orr blasted a volley against the bar. Good stuff.

The visitors were becoming slightly testy as we headed towards half-time, with McKee being spoken to for a wild lunge that fortunately failed to connect, then Laird was booked for taking down Orr.

Galt was showing up well with his quick, clever feet and one run to the byeline, nutmegging a defender en route, only just failed to find an end product as he overhit the cross.

Half-time: Queen’s Park 1 Edinburgh City 0

Queen’s were quick on the restart, and Orr almost had us two up inside two minutes, showing good close control to make space in the box for a shot that was blocked.

Homer reckons Orr looks the part. He bullied Karadachki in a chase down the left, cut past the defender into the box, and was unlucky not to create an opening for a shot as he was eventually crowded out.

Queen’s had very noticeably picked up the pace and they deservedly got that second goal in 55 minutes. Orr was again heavily involved, stealing back possession in the box after having been blocked, then spinning and driving over a cross that McKee tried to clear but turned into his own net.

There were upsetting scenes on the hour, when City defender Karadachki went down injured after a tackle and had to be carried off on a stretcher.

The unfortunate Karadachki was still being wheeled round the track, having been subbed by Hall, when Queen’s went 3-0 ahead.

Anton Brady will no doubt claim it was intentional when he stepped into a slipped pass from Burns on the left byeline and from the most acute of angles chipped the ball over the keeper and in at the far side net. Either way, he’ll take it – and so will Queen’s.

Grimes went close with a nice shot from outside the box in what was City’s first shot, then Orr went off to a good ovation to make way for MacPherson. City replaced Walker with Olanrewaju.

Queen’s were cruising and made a double change nine minutes from time, with Whelan getting his debut as he and Mortimer replaced hard-working pair Galt and David Green.

It was almost four with three minutes left. Bailey again did well down the right, whipped over a cross that MacPherson hitch-kicked against a post, and Mortimer could do no more than knock the rebound straight into keeper Antell’s arms.

And that was that.

Queen’s round-off their Betfred campaign at Berwick on Tuesday.

After that we can get our teeth into the real thing — lunch at Tutties before the August 5 League One opener against Arbroath at Gayfield.

Keep the faith. The fun’s about to start.

Queen’s Park: Willie Muir, Ross Millen, Sean Burns, Bryan Wharton, Kevin Green, Michael Bailey, David Green, Dominic Docherty, Thomas Orr, Anton Brady, David Galt. Subs: Luke Whelan, Conor McVey, Adam Cummins, Willie Mortimer, Ewan MacPherson, Michael White.

Edinburgh City: Callum Antell, Chris McKee, Shaun Harrison, Josh Walker, Marc Laird, Craig Thomson, Ashley Grimes, Zdravko Karadachki, David  Verlaque, Sean Mackie, Lewis Allan. Subs – Moses Olanrewaju, Jordan Caddow, Calum Hall , John Dunn, Craig Beattie, Gareth Rodger, Fraser Morton (gk).

Referee – Kevin Graham.