Airdrie 2 Queen’s Park 1

No matter where Queen’s finish up after this difficult season, February 17 won’t go down as one of the better days. By the time the clock had reached 3.10pm, Queen’s were one down; and both of our rivals in the three-team battle at the foot of the table were ahead in their respective matches. That was bad … and it didn’t get much better.

The day ended with Queen’s anchored at the wrong end of the table, and a bitterly disappointed group of players and supporters trudging home from Airdrie. What a difference a week makes.

We went into today’s game full of hope after the battling victory last Saturday in Fife. Gus had to make one change, with Ross Millen suspended, and when the line-ups were announced, they revealed that the Gaffer had actually made two alterations – with Luke Donnelly and Gregor Fotheringham stepping in at the expense of Millen and Conor McVey.

So the team lined up with Michael White in goals and a back five of David Galt, Adam Cummins, Daniel Nimmo, Scott Gibson and Sean Burns. Fotheringham anchored the midfield alongside Dominic Docherty and Anton Brady, while Donnelly supported Aidan Keena who had returned from international duty with the young Ireland team in Spain.

The Excelsior hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Queen’s – even when we had to call it home after decanting from Hampden for the Commonwealth Games – and we got early signs that wasn’t going to alter this afternoon.

Two minutes in, referee Napier awarded his first debatable free-kick of the afternoon to the home side. As the ball was swept in to the far post, Brownlie was given far too much space to loop in a header which sneaked in at the other post – and Queen’s were 1-0 down.

As we struggled to get into any sort of rhythm, Airdrie looked to kill the game before it really started. White had to race of his line to deny Duffy and then Fry went for goal only to be denied by the Queen’s keeper. There were 10 minutes gone and Queen’s had hardly had the ball in the Airdrie half, never mind their penalty box.

Thankfully, that changed as the 15-minute-mark approached. Cummins went close with an effort from just inside the box and then Galt placed a corner kick right on Donnelly’s napper, but the big man’s header was easy meat for Ferguson.

Just as they threatened to get into the game, Queen’s shot themselves in the proverbial by conceding a daft penalty. Nimmo tugged back Carrick after trying to see the ball out for a goal kick. He earned a yellow card; Airdrie earned a spot kick which Duffy buried to put the home side 2-0 ahead.

The Spiders tried to rally and Keena showed his intent – and his imagination – with an audacious effort from about 40 yards after spotting Ferguson off his line. The direction was good, but the height was just off and the ball landed on top of the net rather than in it.

Gus also did his bit to try to turn things around by switching to a flat back four; moving Burns over to right back, Gibson to left – and Galt further forward.

But with the exception of a booking for Fotheringham, and an interminable string of niggly fouls awarded by an ever fussier whistler, that was it for the first half and we headed off at the interval hoping that things would get better.(although it was hard to see how they could have got much worse.)

Half Time

Airdrie 2 Queen’s Park 0

Anybody in the Hampden camp looking for quick improvement would have been disappointed within the opening minute as Airdrie cut us open and it took a desperate intervention by Burns to stop us going three down.

Although we couldn’t earn the right to try to play football on the deck, that scare did waken us up and we carved out a couple of half-chances with Cummins going close from a Galt corner and Gibson having a shot on the overlap that didn’t trouble Ferguson too much.

The Gaffer made his first change 10 minutes in, replacing Donnelly with Robbie Leitch and then five minutes later, bringing on Jamie Gullan for Anton Brady. Neither change provided the dramatic turnaround the Hampden camp craved.

The busiest man on the field was Napier who managed to enrage both sets of supporters in equal measure as he flashed cards like confetti. MacDonald, Cairns and Brownlie went in the book for Airdrie, where they were joined by Docherty for the Spiders.

Amidst all the niggles, Stewart missed a golden chance to tie things up for the home side when he shot wide from a good position, and then Cairns shot high and wide.

With 20 minutes left, Thomas Orr came on to replace Docherty and Queen’s went for broke, and they did manage to put some pressure on the home defence. Galt was denied from close range, and Fotheringham shot over from distance before Airdrie broke and White had to look smart to tip a Duffy effort round for a corner.

Just as it looked as if a poor game would fizzle out, Queen’s burst into life. With Cummins now leading the attack, Keena threaded a ball through and the big centre half showed admirable composure to stride on and stroke the ball past Ferguson. At 2-1, and with five minutes left, it was now game on. And it could have been all square moments later as Cummins latched onto the ball inside the Airdrie six-yard box … only to be denied by Ferguson.

We knew then that it was all over, and that fact was confirmed by Napier’s whistle a few seconds later.

As games go, it was certainly in the instantly forgettable class, and with Forfar hammering five past Stranraer and Albion Rovers getting a late penalty to salvage a point against the league leaders, it was not a good afternoon in any way shape or form for the Spiders.

The positives have got to be that we can play an awful lot better … and Forfar showed today that one win can take you from bottom of the pile to the hallowed ground of eighth place.

Forfar next week at HQ could be what you might call a big game. Gulliver will be many miles away on business, but his heart will be with you all at Hampden and his eyes will be firmly fixed on our Twitter feed.

Keep the Faith.

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