Queen’s Park 0 Edinburgh City 4

It didn’t seem unreasonable to hope that the turn of the year would bring about a turn in fortunes for Mark Roberts and his Queen’s Park side. Given the lousy run of luck we’d endured towards the end of 2018, we all hoped that 2019 would get off to a better start.

So what happened as we got back in action after the Bells? We lost our goalkeeper in the run-up to the first game because of flu – and then lost three key players long before the half-time whistle sounded. If that’s our luck changed for the better, then don’t waste your money on Lottery tickets anytime soon!

But enough of that kind of thinking. – as the Gaffer himself said in his preview for today’s encounter with Edinburgh City – there is absolutely no point in feeling sorry for ourselves. So let’s look on the bright side. Aren’t Queen’s historically at their best when nobody expects them to do anything? And while we went into today’s game without the three casualties from last week we did have the return of Jordan Hart and club skipper Scott Gibson to give us a boost.

And after all we had to do to return to winning ways was beat the league leaders. City have only suffered three losses all season and also boast the prolific Blair Henderson in their ranks. His tally of 26 goals this term is almost double the 15 league goals the entire QP squad have notched up in SPFL2. No problems there, then.

We knew there would have to be changes in the Hoops line-up, but few would have predicted the six made by Mark Roberts. As expected, Jordan Hart returned in goal. His back four comprised James Grant, Dominic McLaren, Scott Gibson and Lewis Magee, with Jamie McKernon and Calvin McGrory anchoring the midfield. Adam Martin, Scott McLean and Billy Mortimer were charged with supporting Lewis Hawke.

It was experimental, but would it work?

The answer came within three minutes, and it was not the one we hoped for. In the game’s first real attack. Blair Henderson won a header just outside the box and as the ball fell to Galbraith, he let fly and saw his effort soar past Hart into the net.

The Spiders tried to hit back right away and Mortimer sprinted up the line and sent over a teasing low ball that eluded everybody and was eventually cleared.

It got worse after six minutes when Galbraith crossed from the right and as Queen’s failed to clear, Smith pounced to drive past Hart and put the visitors 2-0 ahead. At this stage, it already looked like being a very long afternoon.

Fifteen minutes in and a bad day got positively awful. Queen’s gave the ball away in midfield, Taylor sprinted clear – and his cross was headed firmly home by Henderson. At 3-0 the game was all but over, although the Spiders did threaten briefly as Mortimer again got free, but nobody in Hoops could apply the final touch to his cross.

Midway through the half, Martin produced a neat turn and shot from distance that was palmed behind for a fruitless corner. Queen’s continued to press and McLean did well to escape a wild lunge from Liam Henderson and set up a break that finally petered out. After allowing McLean the advantage, ref Napier produced a deserved yellow card for the City defender.

McGrory then went in the book for a late challenge on Black.

Ludicrous though it sounds, as the clock ticked past 35 minutes, the Spiders had probably enjoyed more of the possession than their visitors … but were three goals down. Cruel game, this.

Seven minutes from the break, Liam Henderson clattered over the top of Hawke, but Napier decided Lewis was at fault and carded the striker. Mark Roberts made his opinion clear on that decision, and earned a finger-wagging lecture from the official.

Tempers were getting frayed in the home ranks as the interval neared and it was probably as well that the whistle went sharp on 45 to give everybody a chance to settle down.

Half time

Queen’s Park 0 Edinburgh City 3

Neither side made any changes at the break and Queen’s restarted facing the proverbial mountain.

Forty seconds into the half the visitors earned the first of two corners, but thankfully the second was cleared without too much trouble.

McKernon was booked after 48 minutes for hauling back the rapidly-breaking Galbraith. The classic example of “taking one for the team”.

Gibby produced a great block on Smith with another goal threatening, but the Spiders were a bit under the cosh as the action unfolded.

The only thing that hadn’t gone wrong thus far was another injury… that changed after 54 minutes when Martin went down clearing another attack -and was carried off on a stretcher. He was replaced by Ali Miller, with Euan East coming on at the same time for the disconsolate Scott Gibson. Not the comeback the skipper was hoping for.

Miller went to left back,with Magee moving into the middle to partner McLaren.

The fourth goal arrived seconds later, but from this viewpoint it should have been disallowed … TWICE. Smith looked offside as he broke through, and when his shot was parried by the alert Hart, Blair Henderson also looked off as he tapped it home. Hart made his opinion clear about the decision and was booked by the officious Napier.

Moments later, Miller was fortunate to escape a card when he took out Galbraith.

Things were already bad enough, but Magee was the next addition to our injury list, going down close to his own line after a clearance. Despite immediate signs from Hart that Lewis could not continue, Napier made him crawl off the park for attention.

Kieran Moore came on with yet another reshuffle seeing McKernon dropping into our jinxed defence. The sub could have made an immediate impact as he was inches away from another Mortimer driven cross.

City made their first change after 71 minutes, with Liam Henderson and Smith being replaced by Watson and Shepherd.

McLean was next to be booked, for a foul on Watson, and with 15 minutes left, nobody in the home camp would have complained if the final whistle had gone now.

Thomson was then yellow carded for an awful foul on East.

Ten minutes from time, possibly Queen’s best moment of the afternoon saw Moore escape and cross deep to the far post where East touched it back for McGrory to volley goalwards. It might have beaten the keeper, but was deflected to safety by a sprawling defender. Somehow summed up the way things are going at the minute.

Seven minutes from time, Kennedy replaced Taylor for the visitors.

Three minutes later, a Hawke flick sent Moore in on goal, but the sub lost his footing just as he was poised to shoot and our best chance of the day went West. At least it had been our best chance to date. An even better one arrived two minutes later when Mortimer’s cross found Hawke, but Antell somehow blocked the striker’s point-blank effort.

That was the final insult on a bad day at the office, and the final whistle sounded with the scoreline reading: Queen’s Park 0 Edinburgh City 4.

So another day goes by without a win for the Spiders, but this daft optimist still sees grounds for hope. We continue to play some decent stuff – and create chances. The hope is that sometime soon we will capitalise on those chances. And surely, we can’t carry on copping injuries at the rate we have done in recent weeks.

At this stage Gulliver must take time to pass on his very best wishes to Gerry McLauchlan and Kurtis Roberts after their horrific clash of heads last week. I’m sure your scribe is not the only one who has almost literally felt their pain watching the incident on QPTV. Everybody in the QP camp will be wishing them a speedy recovery, along with today’s casualties – Adam Martin and Lewis Magee.

We are all sick as the proverbial watching the team fail to get back to winning ways, but before we get critical of Mark Roberts and his squad, let’s just remember that these players earn not a jot for their efforts … and some of them could lose wages from their “day jobs” with injuries picked up wearing the Glorious Hoops.

There is only one way to finish … and the rallying call has seldom been more relevant … Keep The Faith!