Queen’s Park 5 Brechin City 2
QUEEN’S share a dubious distinction with today’s visitors Brechin City. We are BOTH currently bottom in League Two.
Ahead of kick-off, the Angus club are rock bottom 10th, but even they leapfrog Queen’s into ninth when it comes to the worst home record in the division (it’s telling that Queen’s are third-top for away form, behind Cove Rangers and Edinburgh City. Maybe an eviction won’t be so bad, after all!).
Unlike Queen’s, Brechin have actually won a home game this season, and despite all their troubles are still just five points behind fifth-placed Queen’s.
We won 3-0 at Glebe Park in August, and followed that rare win by taking just two points from the next 24 available. It took us 12 weeks to halt that winless run, with another emphatic and deserved 3-0 scoreline at Stenhousemuir last week.
So even this early in the season, facing league game No12 and our first at Hampden in five weeks, is it an exaggeration to suggest today could be a six-pointer?
That was certainly a view oft expressed at last night’s QPFC annual dinner (especially after the third bottle of red), our last annual dinner as soon-to-be-evicted owners of Hampden Park. So excuse any sellping mistakes.
With keeper Willie Muir unavailable today, and gnarled veteran David Crawford injured, making his Queen’s debut will be trialist Joshua Rae, who was on the bench last week.
Joshua is only 19, but he’s already packed a lot into his short footballing career, which started in the youth ranks at Hamilton Accies and continued with a trial at Atletico Madrid and spells at Celtic, Leeds United and Hibs. Our sub keeper is Jacques Herraghty, who is still at school.
Not surprisingly, the 10 others in Hoops retain their starting places from the Stenny game – let’s hope they retain the same form – with Tommy Block still sidelined due to concussion.
The temperature was a balmy 5.5 degrees on a beautiful winter’s day as Brechin, in all red, kicked off defending the away end. The playing surface looked immaculate, considering we had two games played here last weekend.
The opening five minutes consisted of sparring, mainly in the away end, and Queen’s forced the first corner a minute later. It was cleared and Jamieson had a shot blocked from the rebound.
But there was no blocking Salim as he put Queen’s ahead with a fine goal in 11 minutes, taking a header from Joffrey, working his way past two defenders on the edge of the box and firing a low shot past keeper McMinn.
It was the first time Queen’s had scored first at Hampden this season and it got even better two minutes later when McGrory made it 2-0 with a lovely little finish.
Salim did the spadework with another burst into the box, and when he was blocked the ball ran on to McGrory, who took a touch, opened his body to take it with his right, and side footed a delightful six-a-side finish beyond McMinn.
It was obviously going too well for Queen’s, who promptly gave Brechin some hope with a penalty. Salim looked to be the unfortunate Spider, penalised for handball when McLaughlin blasted a free kick against the Queen’s wall, and McManus beat Joshua from the spot.
But the two-goal lead was quickly restored in 24 minutes, this time from a Queen’s penalty. Twinkle toes Galt was the man brought down and Lidouren, with his visiting parents in the stand, scored from the spot to make it 3-1. Tres Bon, Joffrey!
And the same could be said for left back Ciaran Summers, who got in on the scoring party with a splendid fourth. Galt was denied by McMinn but managed to get a pass off to the advancing Summers, who from a tight angle cracked his shot behind McMinn with his supposedly weaker right peg. Our first four-goal haul of the season – and all before half-time. Christmas comes early for the Spiders.
Little was booked for persistent fouling in 42.
Half-time: Queen’s Park 4 Brechin City 1
Brechin sent on Knox for Hill after the break, and we were looking for the same again from Queen’s.
They almost scored two minutes in, Galt dancing past a defender into the box on the left and swinging over a cross that proved just too high for Salim, who headed it over.
But the striker was right on the money when he headed No5 in 53 minutes. Summers won a foul on the left under the main stand and Lidouren’s tantalising free kick was just asking to be headed, and Salim rose highest in a sea of bodies to oblige.
Brechin sent on Hamilton for N’Goy on the hour, and Watt for Brown a minute later, and in between we saw Willie Mortimer blast a shot miles over the top after Lidouren and Galt had set him up 10 yards out.
Rae had been a spectator for an hour, but the young keeper showed his worth with a splendid save from Knox, throwing himself to his right to block the sub’s shot after a rare Brechin attack.
Teenager Reagan Thomson replaced the combative Luke Main on 67, Jack Purdue came on for goal-a-game McGrory in 72, and two-goal Salim got a well-earned ovation when replaced by Alfie in 77.
It took a fine save from McMinn to prevent the half-dozen, rising to touch over the bar a strong header by Jamieson from Lidouren’s free kick 10 minutes from time.
But Brechin weren’t dead yet and they scored a fine second on the break through sub Watt before the end.
A fine win for Queen’s, but it doesn’t get any easier. We’re away to Cowdenbeath and Scottish Cup opponents Queen of the South next, and then we’re back home to host Edinburgh City. Bring it on — and Keep the Faith.
Queen’s Park: Trialist, Billy Mortimer, Ciaran Summers, Calvin McGrory, Nicky Jamieson, Creag Little, Cameron Clark, Luke Main, Salim Kouider-Aissa, David Galt, Joffrey Lidouren. Subs: Jacques Herraghty, Kieran Moore, Reagan Thomson, Cameron Foy, Jack Purdue, Scott Gibson, Alfredo Agyeman.
Brechin City: Lewis McMinn, Scott Reekie, Jonathan Page, Dougie Hill, Sean McIntosh, Paul Allan, Ross Brown, Chris McLaughlin, Ryan McCord, Paul McManus, Emile N’Goy. Subs: Lee Duncanson, Matthew Knox, Luke Watt, Ollie Hamilton, Jamie Reid, Ross Crawford, Ross Sinclair.
Referee: Graham Grainger.