Queen’s Park 1 Forfar Athletic 1

BRAVE folk were walking over hot coals at Hampden Park last night in aid of charity.

Today it’s the turn of Queen’s Park’s players to have their feet held to the fire in their League One battle for survival.

Visitors Forfar are keeping us off the bottom by virtue of just one goal and even this early in the season, with today ending the first quarter, you’ll find an argument for this game being a definite six-pointer.

Both clubs are five points behind eighth-placed Alloa and neither side will want to be cut adrift any further at the bottom.

The two-week international break would have been a welcome relief for Queen’s, following as it did three successive defeats.

Admittedly two of them came against the promotion favourites, Raith Rovers and Ayr United, while the other was a bad-tempered affair at Airdrie a fortnight ago.

Homer was fortunate to be out of the country for all three, but a common theme in Gulliver’s excellent match reports were the self-inflicted nature of many of the goals we conceded — in contrast to the good number of chances we created.

Queen’s will have been working hard on the training pitch to get things right, and hopefully they can record their first league win at Hampden.

Coach Gus MacPherson made three changes from the side that lost to Airdrie. Michael Bailey was missing with a virus and Sean Burns took his place; Kevin Green took over from Adam Cummins; and Thomas Orr replaced Luke Donnelly.

Ewan MacPherson was still out with an ankle injury.

Jim Weir was making his debut as Forfar manager after leaving Elgin City to replace Gary Bollan.

Forfar kicked off into the traditional home end and there could be no complaints about the conditions – dry and bright with no wind, and the pitch looking picture perfect.

It was the visitors who created the first chance, and they went so close to scoring in three minutes.

Easton got past Brady into the box on the left, cut it back for Peters, and the striker saw his shot deflected for a corner.

If that was close, Queen’s came even closer two minutes later and it took a magnificent save from McCallum to deny them.

Burns slung in a cross from the left that Docherty met solidly with his forehead, but McCallum twisted in the air and a one-handed wonder save turned the header away.

This was a good start from both teams, considering what was at stake, and the first 10 minutes were end-to-end.

Good interchange between Summers, Docherty and Orr saw the striker win a corner, and from Galt‘s flag kick Green headed over from under the bar.

Queen’s had opened well and were making good progress down the left, and Summers and Orr again combined to force the first of a three corners which were all cleared.

The first 20 minutes had disappeared in a flash. Queen’s were ahead on points, but they had to make their possession count. Sound familiar?

Easton was pulling the strings for Forfar and a delightful through ball put Cox clear on the left, but his cutback across the area found no takers, fortunately for Queen’s.

Orr won a great ball on the byeline in 24 minutes through sheer persistence, but his cross was booted for a corner.

Easton was finding holes, and he came close in 27 minutes after popping up in the box to take a cross and head straight into Muir’s arms.

Summers was showing up well for Queen’s and a splendid run by the left-back on the half-hour set up a good crossing chance for Orr, but he failed to find a dark-blue shirt as the ball whizzed across the area and out for a throw-in.

There had been some splendid interplay coming from Queen’s, and it put Forfar on the back foot much of the time, but the final ball was proving hard to deliver with the required accuracy.

At the other end, as we headed for half-time, Forfar since Easton’s header had been restricted to crosses from wide and Muir had been equal to them.

But it took a fine save from Muir to deny the visitors an undeserved half-time lead, as Peters was left clear to run in on goal and fire in a shot that Muir deflected with his feet.

Half-time: Queen’s Park 0 Forfar Athletic 0

The second half started like the first, end-to-end.

Cox tried a shot from well out that Muir comfortably saved, then Queen’s raced straight to the other end and the busy Galt had a shot blocked and Burns’ cross from the rebounded narrowly eluded Docherty.

But Docherty got his chance in 52 minutes, and what a chance it was. He had two chances to shoot, in fact, in a scramble in the six-yard box, but when he finally did McCallum produced another one-handed wonder stop to turn the ball over the bar. Top class again.

When the corner was cleared, Millen fired it to the back post, Green headed on, and Fotheringham had a header deflected for a corner from under the bar.

Quigley was booked in 58 minutes for a foul on Galt on the right byeline, but Brady’s free-kick overshot the danger area.

Forfar sent on See for Peters in 61 minutes.

Easton had been quiet so far in the second half but he put a chance on a plate for McBride in 63 minutes, beating defenders into the box and cutting it back only for McBride to shoot wide. A let-off for Queen’s.

But there was no reprieve for Queen’s two minutes later when Forfar took the lead against the run of play.

That man Easton was taken down in the box by Iredale, a stick-on pen, and Millar beat Muir from the spot. Queen’s could have no complaints, having failed to turn their superior possession into goals, albeit McCallum had produced two wonder saves.

Gus had seen enough and in 71 minutes used all three subs, sending on Chris Duff, Luke Donnelly and youth player James McLennan for Galt, Docherty and Orr.

Forfar sent on Aitken for Cox.

Easton was booked for kicking the ball away in 86 minutes, but the free-kick, like too many other final balls, wasn’t good enough.

Easton went off two minutes from time to a smattering of applause from the visiting fans, being replaced by Cree. Job done, he must have thought.

But Queen’s had kept going, and a minute from time they finally equalised.

Iredale fired a hopeful ball into the box, young McLennan got a touch, and Donnelly bundled the ball over the line.

It was no more than Queen’s deserved, and they could even have taken all three points in time added-on when Fotheringham had a point-blank header saved by the inspired McCallum.

It doesn’t get any easier, with a visit to old rivals Albion Rovers next week. Keep the faith.

Queen’s Park: Willie Muir; Ross Millen, Ciaran Summers; Gregor Fotheringham, Kevin Green, Jack Iredale, David Galt, Dominic Docherty, Thomas Orr, Anton Brady, Sean Burns. Subs: Luke Donnelly, Chris Duff, Adam Cummins, Scott Gibson, David Green, James McLennan, Michael White.

Forfar Athletic: Marc McCallum, Jamie Bain, Conor Quigley, Michael Travis, Darren Whyte, David Cox, Mark Millar, Marc Scott, Dylan Easton, Josh Peters, Scott McBride. Subs: Greg Warwick, Patrick Cregg, Michael Kennedy, Murray MacKintosh, Ousman See, Mathew Aitken, Grant Adam.

Referee: Alan Muir.