East Fife 0 Queen’s Park 2

It’s more than 10 years since Frankie Carroll rounded off a great day at Bayview by scoring the final goal of what had been a magical season as the Spiders clinched promotion via the play-offs with a 3-0 win over East Fife.

That late goal sparked wild celebrations … and it came back to Gulliver’s mind yesterday as Aidan Keena scored another late goal to clinch another Bayview victory for Queen’s.

This one doesn’t on its own achieve anything yet, but from the way the QP support celebrated, you could have been forgiven for thinking that we’d won a trophy. And when the final curtain does come down on this season, we might just look back on Keena’s Kracker as the moment things started to go our way. It marked the end of a nervy afternoon, and the worrying thing for those with QP in their blood, is that we’ve got another 11 such events to “look forward to”.

Given our record at Bayview, and the fact that we had already recorded two wins over the Fifers this season, Queen’s had grounds for optimism as they headed for Fife. One key to victory would be eliminating the errors that have cost us dear, and that may have been in Gaffer Gus MacPherson’s mind as he resorted to a back three/five.

So Queen’s lined up with Michael White in goals, with Ross Millen and Sean Burns flanking the central defence of Adam Cummins, Daniel Nimmo and Scott Gibson. Conor McVey, Dominic Docherty and Anton Brady occupied the midfield, while David Galt was the support act for Keena.

It may have been a line-up designed to give us a solid defensive platform, but it very nearly provided us with the dream start at the other end. Inside the first minute, Galt was fouled for the first (but certainly not the last) time in the afternoon. David swung in a freekick that keeper Goodfellow fumbled and it took a desperate scramble to prevent Cummins forcing the ball over the line.

The hosts responded immediately and Queen’s had to survive some nasty moments as Livingstone enjoyed a wee purple patch, firstly dinking in a fine cross that had to be headed away by Nimmo, and then going close himself with a header from the edge of the six-yard box.

The harum-scarum start continued with Keena bringing Goodfellow into action with his first shot of the afternoon. It was a routine save for the keeper, but the encouraging sign was that we were creating opportunities.

Following the frantic opening five minutes, things settled down a bit until the Fifers gained momentum again around the 20-minute mark. They picked up a series of corners in quick succession, which the Spiders’ defence coped with reasonably comfortably. We weren’t quite so comfy with a soft free kick that was whipped in by Linton and eventually saw a Page effort blocked.

The home side looked to be gaining the upper hand – so naturally, Queen’s went up the park and opened the scoring. Burns, Galt and Keena had already combined to good effect on the left, and that was the side our opener came from. Galt found his striking partner who made his way along the edge of the box and then hit a low trundler back towards Goodfellow’s post. It might have been lacking power, but Aidan’s shot was placed to perfection and the home defence was powerless to keep it out.

Goals change games, so they say, and this one certainly gave the Spiders a huge lift. They went looking for a second, and came close through Brady and Keena again.

But as the half petered out, the Fifers began to recover from the shock of going behind and enjoyed more of the ball. The best they could carve out, however, was a number of corners which were all defended stoutly by the trio of Gibson, Cummins and Nimmo. Apart from that, the main entries in the notebook were the increasing number of fouls conceded as both sides strived to make their mark.

Half time

East Fife 0 Queen’s Park 1

Queen’s had started the first period well, and almost went even better in the first minute of the second half. Millen was the provider this time and his cross was headed narrowly wide by Brady.

That was a touch of the deja vus, and the pattern of play soon developed into a similar mode we had seen for much of the first period. Neither side could establish any real control. The home team looked as if they might snatch something from a dead-ball situation, while we looked threatening on the break.

Referee Graham produced the first card of the afternoon after 51 minutes when Kane went in the book for another foul on Galt. The whistler then evened things up seconds later when Docherty was similarly punished for a challenge that didn’t look worthy of the card.

Darren Young was the first manager to change things, with a double swap after 56 minutes, replacing Lamont and Livingstone with Jones and Knox. Given the considerable height Jones brought to the party, it was pretty predictable that we would face an aerial challenge, but credit to the midfielders working their socks off, we managed to deny Jones and his striking partner Chris Duggan any clear sightings of White’s goal.

Galt was a constant thorn in the flesh of the home defence, with the number of free kicks he won testament to his footwork. The pace of Keena and Brady  was also giving us options on the break, and that pair almost provided the cushion of a second goal after Docherty’s pass gave Anton space to gallop forward. But with Aidan poised in the middle, keeper Goodfellow spoiled things by cutting out the cross.

Just after the hour, we spurned a glorious chance when Brady and Burns fed Galt and his eyes lit up as he tried to curl one into the far corner. He got things wrong on this occasion and the ball sailed harmlessly wide.

We almost paid the price straight away as a corner was whipped into our box. Thankfully, Page was penalised and we retained our slender advantage.

Gus then made his first change, bringing on Robbie Leitch for Brady. It was still the home side doing most of the pressing at this stage and Queen’s had White to thank as the keeper did well to deny Jones after another corner came in.

All the nerves could have been settled 12 minutes from time when Galt danced past Page in the box and was taken out by the defender. The foul earned him a yellow card and Queen’s the chance for Cummins to add to his growing tally of spot-kick successes. Adam did what he tends to do and blasted the ball goalwards. Unfortunately, Goodfellow guessed correctly and punched the ball away.

The failure saw a few hearts sink in the visiting support, but the players showed their resolve and continued to fight for every ball. They had to survive some anxious moments as balls came into our box, but although the clock now seemed to be ticking far too slowly, the scoreline remained in our favour.

And with five minutes left, they got their reward with a goal as good as you’ll see anywhere. Keena picked the ball up on the edge of the box, slipped past his marker – and then curled a peach into the far corner. It was no more than Aidan deserved for a tremendous shift … and it was certainly no more than the team deserved for a gritty performance.

Two up with five minutes left should have been job done, but memories of that Albion Rovers game niggled away. Thankfully, this time there were no late scares. Deep into injury time, there was a late substitution as Gullan replaced Docherty and we saw things out to record the victory that all in the Hampden camp craved.

There’s no denying this was a big win, lifting us as it did off the foot of the table and within touching distance of Albion in eighth place. But there’s also no getting away from the fact that we are still in a bit of a dogfight, and need several more wins to ensure our League One status for next term.

But for the moment, let’s just savour the occasion … and if you want to relive the goals, have a peek at the QPTV video below.

Airdrie next stop, where we don’t have so many happy memories. Now would be a good time to create some.

Keep the Faith

Queen’s Park: Michael White; Ross Millen, Sean Burns, Daniel Nimmo, Adam Cummins, Scott Gibson, Anton Brady (Robbie Leitch), Conor McVey, Aidan Keena, Dominic Docherty (Jamie Gullan), David Galt. Subs: Luke Donnelly, Ciaran Summers, Lewis Magee, Billy Mortimer, Calvin McGrory.