Queen’s Park 0 Peterhead 0

HOMER found a parking spot at a busy Hampden Park today while musing on the painful fact that watching football can drive you to drink.

How appropriate, then, the morning after the Wembley night before, that he should walk in on a Whisky Festival in full swing at the National Stadium.

Scotland’s national drink can certainly dull the pain when you are a supporter of the Scotland national football team (and Queen’s Park FC, for that matter).

But old codgers like Homer at least have the memory of those golden days when the amber nectar was used not to drown our sorrows, but to toast glorious success. Oh for those days when Scotland had a football team worthy of the name.

Younger QP fans have been spoiled, at least at club level, what with our consistent play-off and promotion form of recent seasons. It hasn’t always been so exhilarating following the Glorious Hoops!

In that regard, the jump between League Two and League One is proving a sobering experience for everyone at the club.

It’s no surprise that the four full-time clubs have opened a gap over the rest, but only six points separate the six other teams so it’s all to play for.

Our splendid 2-0 win in sun-kissed Stranraer last week was a welcome return to form after our home horror against bottom side Stenhousemuir the previous week, and it restored our four-point gap over them.

Last week’s clean sheet was nearly as welcome as the two splendid goals from Dario Zanatta and Anton Brady. Unfortunately young on-loan Hearts striker Dario was missing for today’s visit of Peterhead as he was away on duty with Canada’s Under-20s.

It was good to see David Galt back in the squad after his absence in recent weeks, but we also had the surprise news on the club website that midfielder Darren Miller, who was not in the squad for Stranraer, has gone on loan to Clyde.

Gus MacPherson was happy to make just the one change, with Aiden Malone a straight replacement for Zanatta.

Queen’s lost 2-0 at Balmoor in September in what was an entirely forgettable performance, missing an early penalty as Peterhead got their first win of the season.

As the Peterhead web report noted: “The Spiders were guilty of not making their possession tell, even after being awarded a ninth minute spot-kick.”

Peterhead had been on a three-match winning run before losing 3-1 at home to Brechin last week, and they are just one point ahead of the Spiders.

One notable absentee from the Blue Toon side was that scourge of QP, namely Rory McAllister. The Queen’s defenders would not have been unhappy to read in their morning papers that the big striker “was struggling”, and so it proved.

It was a beautiful day as Queen’s kicked off towards the away end, clear and sunny, not too chilly, and with not a wisp of wind. A lovely day for football.

Scotland had to wear their pink strips last night because of some Fifa-perceived clash with England’s white. The powers that be should have been at Hampden today, with Queen’s in their all dark blue kit and Peterhead in all royal blue, other than their white socks. Go figure.

The first action was in four minutes, Muir comfortably punching away a Noble free-kick, and after a couple of Blue Toon corners Muir eased the pressure with a confident take.

Queen’s responded in six minutes with a neat move down the right, Brady turning under the main stand to find Fotheringham through the middle with a delightful pass. The midfielder then played in the overlapping Burns on his left and he steadied himself in the box before unleashing a left foot shot that was blocked by of all people teammate Malone.

It was the striker who won a free kick for Queen’s wide right in 10 minutes, and when Burns knocked it into the box, Ferry’s attempted headed clearance went just wide of his own far post.

There was little to report in the next 10 minutes, plenty of effort from both teams but little headway in the opposition danger areas, with a Burns free kick failing to clear the first defender and a McKernon corner that was headed down by McGeever but booted clear.

The first shot in anger didn’t arrive until the 26th minute, and it came from the visitors. Queen’s struggled to clear on the left and the ball broke for Riley to strike a powerful shot that fortunately was hit straight at Muir.

The teams looked evenly matched and were cancelling each other out as we hit the half-hour still with no signs of a goal. There wasn’t much pace on view from either team but Queen’s were sitting off their opponents too much for Homer’s liking and allowing them to play.

Ferry produced a clever through pass to Riley that split Queen’s open down the right and Gibson needed a good tackle to prevent the cross.

And that was that. An undistinguished 45 minutes, but a huge improvement on our last showing here at HQ.

Half-time: Queen’s Park 0 Peterhead 0

Inside a minute, the lively Brady won a corner on the right. Fans were on their feet as Malone rose to head Burns’ kick just over, but in any case the ref blew for a foul.

We had a similar outcome three minutes in, when Fotheringham rose well to meet a Millen cross in the box but was pulled up for a foul.

Hesitation by Cummins caused a few flutters as McIntosh put Brown in but his shot was deflected into Muir’s arms.

Queen’s came close a minute later, when Brady scooped the ball over the bar from close in after Woods had picked him out in the box.

Kelleher almost pulled the shirt from Malone’s back, in full view of the main stand, but the ref somehow missed it and had a word with Brady for complaining.

Queen’s made their first change in 57 minutes, striker for striker as Carter took over Malone’s lone role.

Millen was booked for a sliding challenge on Brown on the hour. Muir collected the free kick and his quick clearance sent Carter haring away to win a corner that was cleared.

Stevenson got behind the Queen’s defence and into the box down the right and the warning lights were flashing as he drove a low cross in front of Muir that Cummins did well to hoof clear.

Homer’s earlier weather forecast should now be edited to include heavy rain and angry terracing as ref Walsh waved away stonewall penalty claims for Queen’s.

Kelleher misjudged a high ball and Carter darted behind him, bursting into the box and being taken down from behind by the big defender’s despairing tackle as he prepared to shoot. Mr Walsh waved away appeals. One for QPTV.

David Galt got the call in 73 minutes, replacing Woods, and Scott Brown was booked for stupidity in 77 trying to control Carter, who was having an impact.

Peterhead almost broke the deadlock two minutes later. They had been getting some joy down the right with full back Stevenson, and when his cross came in McIntosh backheeled it and it took Muir at full stretch to prevent the goal.

Another one for QPTV, as Carter was decked when through on goal in 84 minutes. Ferry was red carded for the tackle but Mr Walsh waved away penalty appeals and gave the foul on the edge of the box.

Cummins and Noble were then booked for a difference of opinion, Fotheringham was replaced by Liam Brown, and after all that McKernon drove the free kick against the wall.

Queen’s had one more chance to win it. Burns’ whipped cross was headed for a corner, the kick was cleared, and Brown flashed a shot over the bar. And that was that.

Well, Homer did say that watching football could drive you to drink. At least tonight we won’t be drowning our sorrows. Keep the faith.

Queen’s Park: Willie Muir, Ross Millen, Scott Gibson, Jamie McKernon, Ryan McGeever, Adam Cummins, Paul Woods, Gregor Fotheringham, Aiden Malone, Anton Brady, Sean Burns.

Subs: John Carter, Conor McVey, Bryan Wharton, Liam Brown, David Galt, Craig McLeish, Ewan MacPherson.

Peterhead: Graeme Smith, Jamie Stevenson, Steven Noble, Scott Ross, Fiacre Kelleher, Scott Brown, Jordan Brown, Nicky Riley, Leighton McIntosh, Simon Ferry, Nathan Blockley.

Subs: Kevin Dzierzawski, Ryan Strachan, Scott Rumsby, Ryan Baptie, Salim Nassor, Fraser Hobday (gk).

Referee: Nick Walsh.

Highlights from behind the goal