Queen’s Park 1 Livingston 0
QUEEN’S turned back the clock some 150 years for the visit of League One leaders Livingston to Hampden Park.
As part of the build-up to our 150th anniversary on July 9 next year —that’s a sesquicentennial event, in case you didn’t know! — the Spiders will set aside the famous black and white hoops for home games and return to their first-ever kit.
From today and for the rest of the season, Queen’s at Hampden will wear navy shirt, grey shorts and navy socks, a superb-looking kit that was launched earlier this week at Hampden Park.
You’ll find the history of the “new” strip very well covered elsewhere on the website, in President Doc Hutchison’s blog and in an excellent video starring Paul Woods, who very sportingly acquired a haircut to match the occasion.
As league leaders, high-scoring Livingston would provide fitting opposition for the unveiling. Livi and Alloa are the only teams in the division still with 100% records, after Queen’s ended Brechin’s winning start with a well-deserved 0-0 draw beside the big hedge at Glebe Park last week.
Livi, like Airdrie, enjoy the advantage this season of being full-time but as we have already shown against the Diamonds and in the early-season cup competitions, we will be no slouches.
Coach Gus MacPherson, fresh from his starring role on Peter and Roughie’s Football Show on STV, was able to name the same squad as last week and made one change, fit again Aiden Malone starting up front in place of John Carter.
And among the subs on the bench was young Liam Brown, who deserves huge congratulations this week after being called into the Scotland Under-19 squad for two friendlies against Greece in Athens next week as they warm up for this season’s UEFA European Under-19 Championship qualifying.
We haven’t played Livi since 2010, when we won 3-2. A repeat would do just dandy. We’ll see.
Certainly, there could be no complaints about the weather or the pitch. Both were splendid for football.
Andrew Murphy, who earned the coach’s plaudits at Brechin, was called into action in the fifth minute, diving to turn away a powerful shot from Buchanan, and then McGeever blocked the follow-up shot.
Apart from that, the first 15 minutes were far more cagey and neither Murphy nor his opposite No1 Liam Kelly were troubled.
Both sides were determined to play the ball out from the back, but with both also pushing a high line it was pretty much stalemate as we hit the 20-minute mark.
Queen’s had a couple of free kicks, under the stand shooting towards the away end, but Millen and then Miller overhit the area.
The first real opening for Queen’s didn’t arrive until the 25th minute. Watt made great ground down the left to get in a cross from the byeline, and Malone worked wonders to get in a shot that was blocked for a corner.
And from the corner the Spiders scored!
Miller’s kick found Malone at the far post, where he volleyed a shot behind Kelly. It took a deflection on the way in, but nobody was complaining.
A goal out of nothing, and it sparked Livi into their first real show of aggression.
Cummins did well at full stretch to block a shot from opposite No6 Byrne and then Crighton headed a corner wide.
The Queen’s midfielders were working hard, and Burns and Woods were making sterling efforts to cover their full-backs whenever Livi broke wide, which was happening more often now.
Queen’s survived a close call in 38 minutes. Cummins conceded a pointless foul on Mullen, who was trapped down by the corner flag, and when the free kick was fired over, Lithgow headed narrowly wide.
Livi’s Miller was booked in 40 minutes for a foul on McVey and there were no alarms at either end up to the break.
Half-time: Queen’s Park 1 Livingston 0
The sun was shining for the restart and Queen’s produced football to match, a nice move down the left involving Cummins and Gibson and Miller, who won a corner which Kelly punched clear.
Queen’s were getting early joy down the left, and Burns and Watt combined to try and put Malone through, but the final pass was cut out.
Halkett was booked for an off the ball block on Malone, while Mullen needed treatment after a coming together with Miller.
Queen’s came so close to a second goal on the hour. It was a lovely move involving McVey and Burns, who set up Miller for a low shot that Kelly turned away at full stretch.
Watt ended an excellent shift in 63 minutes, being replaced by Galt, while Livi had sent on Dale Carrick and Josh Mullen for Danny Mullen and Cadden.
Gibson went from hero to villain in the space of two minutes, rescuing a slipping keeper Murphy with a great tackle on Pittman, and then being booked for a foul on Buchanan.
Queen’s were working valiantly all over the park to stifle Livi, who not surprisingly were working up a head of steam, albeit while still not troubling Murphy as 70 minutes came and went.
And Carter provided fresh legs up front when he ended the impressive Malone’s combative shift.
It was not quite a rearguard action from Queen’s, but the defenders were working overtime as Livi fought for openings. One Cummins headed clearance even set up a chance for the Spiders, with Miller picking up the ball, releasing Galt, and the sub racing away but ending then move with a weak shot from just outside the box.
Livi had the ball in the net in 76 minutes, but sub Mullen’s header was ruled out for offside, much to the relief of the home support.
But it was a warning, not that it was needed. Livi have been scoring for fun and there was still a long way to go here.
Livi had been having most success from set pieces, particularly with their big men at corners, but sub Mullen wasted a good chance with a 20-yard free kick that flew high over in 80 minutes.
But Queen’s were still dangerous themselves. Galt won a high challenge in the box and then played in Burns with a delightful backheel, but his cross was picked out by keeper Kelly.
Woods looked to be enjoying himself and had been showing some classy “old Woodsy” .touches, and he and Galt almost set up a chance in 85 minutes.
Queen’s had been putting their bodies on the line with some brave blocks and the ever eager Gibson was hurt doing just that to prevent a goalscoring chance as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes.
Woods went off to a well deserved ovation on time up, replaced by Brady, and then there was Gibson again booting clear from a corner. Great stuff.
Sub Liam Watt was booked for a foul on Brady as Queen’s finished strongly to win the points, and we even had a Livi player down with cramp. Magic. Keep the faith.
Queen’s Park: Andy Murphy, Ross Millen, Scott Gibson, Conor McVey, Ryan McGeever, Adam Cummins, Paul Woods, Darren Miller, Aiden Malone, Josh Watt, Sean Burns. Subs – John Carter, David Galt, Anton Brady, Bryan Wharton, Gregor Fotheringham, Liam Brown, Ewan MacPherson.
Livingston: Liam Kelly, Mikey Miller, Alan Lithgow, Jackson Longridge, Craig Halkett, Liam Buchanan, Shaun Byrne, Scott Pittmann, Nicky Cadden, Sean Crighton, Danny Mullen. Subs – Gary Maley, Jordan Sinclair, Liam Watt, Morgyn Neill, Josh Mullen, Thomas Orr, Lewis Allan.
Referee – Kevin Graham.