Queen’s Park 0 Alloa Athletic 4
QUEEN’S PARK have made a splendid start to the second quarter of the season — on and off the pitch.
At a time when the status of Hampden Park in the Scottish game is again being questioned, it was entirely fitting that the National Stadium should host a presentation to this grand old club in recognition of our contribution to the global game.
Since we were last here at HQ — for that mega-disappointing 1-1 draw with Forfar — we have seen Queen’s Park circa 1883/1884 become the first team ever inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame (read the full impartial verdict of President Alan Hutchison on his blog on the website).
And then last Saturday, Queen’s Park circa 2017 played ever so well to register an uplifting 1-0 win over Albion Rovers at Cliftonhill.
It was a very welcome and hard-earned clean sheet in Coatbridge, coming as it did after a rash of self-inflicted goals. The defence looked solid and compact, and with the team as usual working their socks off it opened some daylight — albeit just three points’ worth — between us and bottom club Forfar.
If we are to retain that gap, not to mention securing our first home league win of the season, we’ll need more of the same today against Alloa Athletic. The Wasps are four points ahead of Queen’s after ending a run of four winless games with a convincing 4-1 victory over East Fife last week.
Head coach Gus MacPherson watched last week’s action from the Cliftonhill stand, nursing a cold and not wishing to infect his players.
But he was back today, although stationed at the start in the presentation box behind the dugout, and not surprisingly naming an unchanged team.
The subs were also the same, except for David Green, who has left the club in search of regular football, and we wish him well. Conor McVey took his seat.
There was a chill wind swirling around Hampden but it was dry as Alloa kicked off towards the home end, but it was fully eight minutes before we had the first shot on goal, Hetherington firing over from well out.
The teams were cancelling each other out and 20 minutes in there was little to enthuse the crowd or worry either keeper, although that was the cue for Summers to fire Queen’s first shot well over.
But the game burst into life in 26 minutes when Alloa took the lead, and it was far too easy.
Brady, who seconds earlier had been nursing a knock, lost possession in midfield and the ball was shuttled through to Crossan, who was unmarked and unharried on the right as he made his way into the box at pace and rattled a shot behind Muir.
You could hardly say it was against the run of play, because up until then there had been little attacking play, but it was the first chance of the match for either team.
Hetherington was booked for a foul on Donnelly and there was a further blow to Queen’s when Brady went off in 33 minutes, to be replaced by Burns.
The goal had lifted Alloa, and it took a good block from Green in 38 minutes to divert a Flannigan shot into Muir’s arms.
Queen’s stuck to their task and were unlucky not to level a minute from the break.
Docherty’s through pass found Burns in the box, but the sub had three efforts on goal and all three were blocked before the ball was hoofed clear.
A frustrating first half for Queen’s, who never got into their stride and gave up the only real chance of the half.
Half-time: Queen’s Park 0 Alloa Athletic 1
Queen’s made a change at the restart, Galt replacing Orr to support Donnelly up top.
Queen’s couldn’t do any worse than the first 45 minutes, and there was a half chance in 53 minutes.
Summers found Burns wide left and his inswinging cross was headed over by the stretching Docherty.
Fotheringham was booked for a foul on Hetherington in 56 minutes as Queen’s produced more of an attackiong threat, but they were hit with a sucker punch on the hour.
One minute we were in the Alloa box, next they had counter attacked at pace down the left through Crossan, who got to the byeline all too easily and then managed to send over a low cross which Malcolm, just as easily, simply fired past Muir.
Game over? You had to fear as much, because it was hard to see where a Queen’s goal threat was coming from and Alloa had no intentions of abandoning their five at the back.
Chris Duff replaced Kevin Greeen for Queen’s in 67 minutes and Alloa sent on Renton for Malcolm, and they arrived just in time to see Alloa put the game to bed with considerable home help.
Flannigan fired over a free kick from wide left, Graham connected with the merest of glancing headers, and the ball squirmed through Muir’s raised hands and into the net. A goal that aptly summed up the day for Queen’s.
Alloa sent on Martin for Fleming in 73 and ex-Spider Daryll Meggatt for Crossan in 76.
Summers sent a fine shot just wide and Cawley had one deflected for a corner, but the unmarked Meggatt made no mistake with a strong header five minutes from time to put Alloa 4-0 up.
A Hallowe’en horror show. That’s 19 goals conceded and five scored in six home games.
Keep the faith.
Queen’s Park: Willie Muir, Kevin Green, Adam Cummins, Jack Iredale, Ross Millen, Ciaran Summers, Dominic Docherty, Gregor Fotheringham, Anton Brady, Luke Donnelly, Thomas Orr.
Subs: Chris Duff, Sean Burns, Conor McVey, Scott Gibson, David Galt, James MacLennan, Michael White.
Alloa Athletic: Neil Parry, Jon Robertson, Scott Taggart, Andrew Graham, Callum Crane, Kevin Cawley, Garry Fleming, Steven Hetherington, Iain Flannigan, Craig Malcolm, Paul Crossan.
Subs: Kris Renton, Adam Martin, Daryll Meggatt, Jim Goodwin, Andrew Wilson.
Referee – Scott Millar.