Queen’s Park 2 Stranraer 2
THE Hampden first-team boys have a job on their hands trying to claim the in-house bragging rights this week.
Follow that, say the Queen’s Park Under-20s, who opened their SPFL Development League West campaign in midweek with a 5-1 win over Stranraer at Kilbirnie Ladeside’s Valefield Park.
A tough act to follow, that’s for sure, and Queen’s will find today’s visiting Stair Park Blues an entirely more experienced and savvy proposition as they chase their first points of their own Division One campaign.
Queen’s have suffered four defeats on the trot, the last three in the league to Arbroath, Albion Rovers and Alloa (fans of Alliteration FC will have been hoping for Ayr or Airdrie today), but at the Indodrill Stadium last week there were positive signs of the Spiders’ own ‘A’ game returning.
We were worth a draw at Alloa and with the same application today, and a little more luck in front of goal, there is no reason we can’t get a result against Stranraer.
Gus MacPherson was able to name the same squad as last week, while Kevin Green is still recovering from the face wound he picked up against Motherwell U-20s.
So it was exactly the same starting XI and the same bench, which included three of the QP midweek Under-20 squad, keeper Michael White, Scott Gibson and David Green.
The Blues, who narrowly lost to league leaders Ayr last week, had former Spider Paul Woods wearing their No7 shirt, which was somewhat ironic. As Woodsie warmed up pre-match, the new Hampden scoreboards were showing his prominent role in our 150th anniversary video.
The cost of running the new scoreboards had forced a black-out for QP games, but thanks to the generous sponsorship of Hampden Cars – and the persistence of our own Garry Templeman – there can now be no excuse for Homer getting the wrong times for our goals.
And congrats to Sean Burns, who this week was chosen to take over from the departed Ryan McGeever as the QP club skipper.
The Hampden pitch looked positively splendid as Stranraer got us underway, kicking off towards the traditional home end on a cloudy yet bright afternoon, which was so far mercifully dry (but just give it five minutes, we’re sure to need an updated weather report).
It was certainly a cloudy start for Queen’s – a goal down before one minute was recorded on the new screens.
The ball was worked down the right, cut inside, and Wallace’s speculative shot from well out took a deflection off a Queen’s player and left keeper Willie Muir stranded as it hit his far right-hand post and bounced into the net.
Certainly not the start Queen’s wanted, but there was still plenty of time to get back into the game, although it could have got worse in six minutes when Thomson headed a corner over the top from close in.
It did get worse, though, as Stranraer made it 2-0 in eight minutes. Cummins was unlucky with his headed clearance at a long through ball, dropping it at Anderson’s feet 25 yards out, but there was nothing lucky about his right-foot rocket that blasted past Muir.
Queen’s had a mountain to climb, even with 82 minutes in hand, and but for a Burns blocked cross we were given little in the way of hope as we hit the 15-minute mark.
But Queen’s stuck at it and Neill was booked for trying to exchange jerseys with Orr as the striker tried to break clear in 19 minutes.
Stranraer had their tails up, not surprisingly, and Anderson showed his pace when he dispossessed Burns outside the Blues area and sprinted the length of the park, finally releasing Woods to get in a shot that Muir blocked low down then gathered at the second attempt.
The visitors, quicker and more incisive, were looking the more likely to add to their lead and Fotheringham was booked for holding back the lively Woods in 24 minutes.
Queen’s were working manfully to make attacking headway, and out of nothing they got back into the game in 38 minutes with a fine goal.
There looked little danger to Stranraer as Brady picked up a loose ball not far inside the Queen’s half on the left, but the wee man motored forward before unleashing a fine right-foot shot from 25 yards that beat keeper Belford low at his left-hand post.
A lifeline for Queen’s when they were under the cosh, and they surely had to take a lift from that.
Millen was booked in 41 minutes, possibly for dissent, as Queen’s finished the half strongly.
Half-time: Queen’s Park 1 Stranraer 2
Stranraer flyer Anderson didn’t appear for the restart, which would not have been unwelcome for the QP defenders, and he was replaced by one-time Spider Tony Wallace.
Queen’s restarted well and almost forced an equaliser inside three minutes. Brady won a tussle with the equally-aggressive Hamill and his splendid backheel sent Burns to the byeline. The skipper’s driven cross caused panic and just escaped Orr, but there looked a touch of hand ball by a blue shirt before keeper Belford cleared.
Queen’s came soooo close to that equaliser in 53 minutes as they continued to put that drab first half behind them.
After a corner on the left, well won by Bailey, Burns whipped in another cross that Wharton headed off the far post and Belford had a diving save from a shot on the rebound (from a QP player unsighted by Homer et al).
But this was a much more positive Queen’s side now, and they knew they were right in this game.
McVey was replaced by David Green on the hour and then two minutes later Ewan MacPherson came on for Orr.
Stranraer were still dangerous, though, and Woods shot over the bar from 10 yards after Ryan Wallace headed a cross down to him in 65 minutes.
Queen’s made their final change two minutes later, Chris Duff replacing Fotheringham.
There was more woodwork agony for Queen’s in 72 minutes, when MacPherson’s header beat Belford but came back off a post.
Stranraer sent on Okoh for Turner in 75 minutes, and it needed a good tackle by Wharton to deny the sub a shot from eight yards in 82 minutes.
Wallace was booked for a foul and Woodsie went off to be replaced by Stoney with seven minutes left.
Queen’s were just missing that final pass, the right touch. Duff’s attempted chip went wide, then another good run by Bailey to Duff, who failed to find a telling cross.
We had enjoyed little luck of the ball – note the visitors’ deflected goal, the double woodwork – but Queen’s finally got some luck right on full-time.
Burns won a tackle on the left byeline through sheer bloody-mindedness and his driven cross beat Belford, came off centre half Neill, and bounced into the net. It was no more than Queen’s deserved for turning it round in the second half, and if Davie Galt’s mazy injury time run had led to the winner, who could have complained?
We have a blank week next Saturday with Scotland playing. See you at Bayview in a fortnight. Meantime, Keep the Faith.
Queen’s Park: Willie Muir, Ross Millen, Sean Burns, Adam Cummins, Bryan Wharton, Michael Bailey, David Galt, Gregor Fotheringham, Thomas Orr, Anton Brady, Conor McVey. Subs: Chris Duff, David Green, Scott Gibson, Dominic Docherty, Luke Whelan, Ewan MacPherson, Michael White.
Stranraer: Cameron Belford, Scott Robertson, Liam Dick, Steven Bell, Morgyn Neill, Jamie Hamill, Ryan Thomson, Kyle Turner, Paul Woods, Grant Anderson, Ryan Wallace. Subs: Stephen Okoh, Hamish McKinlay, Danny Stoney, Max Currie, Chris McGowan, Gavin Scott, Tony Wallace.
Referee – David Munro.