Queen’s Park 0 Stirling Albion 0

SPIDERS fans shouldn’t lose any sleep over the fact our clocks spring forward tonight. This time last season, Queen’s Park supporters were enduring weeks of sleepless nights.

Then, we were dropping to the ultimately doomed League One relegation play-offs. Now, with still six games to go, we have less chance of troubling any League Two play-offs than Theresa May has of winning the Eurovision Song Contest with her fourth rendition of Please Release Me (or, for political balance, as Scotland have of qualifying for Euro 2020).

Fifth place is still a more than realistic target this season for Queen’s — and that would indeed be a glass half-full, glass half-empty outcome if ever there was one — and it just so happens today’s visitors Stirling Albion currently claim that fifth position, just four points ahead of the Spiders.

Head coach Mark Roberts could call on a pretty much full-strength squad as the Spiders looked to extend our three-game unbeaten run. So it was no real surprise that he kept  the same side that drew 0-0 at Cowdenbeath last week (where yet another two points were dropped; the story of our season). Even the bench was the same as the Gaffer looked for another home success.

Queen’s and Albion have been very evenly matched this season, having each won one game and drawn two in our three league and one Scottish Cup tie.

Right on cue, the day before we enter daylight saving time, the sun made a welcome appearance over Hampden Park as Albion got us under way defending the away end.

It was a quick fire start. Queen’s quickly won possession, McLean fired over a cross from the right, and Moore was set to pull the trigger when a defender’s boot cleared.

Then Albion made a great break down the right, needing a foul by McKernon to stop it just outside our box, and the free kick was cleared. And we had just hit the two-minute mark!

A hectic start, then, and it showed no signs of slowing as MacDonald almost got away from McKernon and could no better than settle on a weak shot from distance.

When Queen’s broke down the left – from a throw-in – we had the bizarre sight of the stand-side linesman raising his flag for offside the minute Hawke reached the ball, but fortunately the ref was on his game and ignored his mate.

The action abated merely a tad, and Hughes went close for Albion from distance as the visitors came more into the game after our promising start.

Summers took a bad touch on a corner, losing the ball to  Smith on the edge of Albion’s box, and the Stirling No 10 promptly raced the length of the park before ruining a fine run with a wayward shot from the edge of our box.

Albion were having the best of it as we hit the 30-minute mark, and Wright should have done better than shoot over the bar from six yards after he reacted quickest to a high bounce.

Queen’s had penalty appeals ignored when Galt went down under a challenge from Banner in 34 minutes. We’ve seen them given, was the verdict.

Moore took a sore one getting in a block that put Galt in possession for a shot that was blocked and a hit from the rebound that gave keeper Ferrie one of his few touches from direct play so far.

Hart was certainly the busier keeper, and he was almost picking the ball out his net in 39 minutes. He came for and missed a free kick into a crowded box, but MacDonald, rising right behind Hart, somehow headed wide.

McLaren left his competent defensive duties to join the attack to win a corner on the right, but it came to nothing in the last action of the half.

Half-time: Queen’s Park 0 Stirling Albion 0

Hart was back in the wars right from the restart, when he got in a tangle with Smith at the far post under a high cross. Hart was fortunate with the bounce as Smith whacked the post and ended up in the back of the net.

McGrory had taken a knock before the break and he finally had to call it quits five minutes in, with McLauchlan coming on and McKernon moving forward into midfield.

Albion had restarted where they left off, and MacDonald let us off the hook when he elected to knock down a header six yards out when it looked easier to knock it past Hart.

Queen’s were managing the odd foray into the Albion area, the odd cleared corner, but the spark was missing.

MacDonald could have had a hat-trick here, with better options, but he lost control again when clean through and Gibson nicked the ball from his feet and McLaren hoofed clear.

Albion made their first change when McLear replaced Wright in 65, and the sub’s first action was to deck Galt and concede a free kick under the main stand that Galt fired straight at Ferrie.

In 68, Queen’s sent on East for Hawke.

Docherty was booked for a foul on Summers.

Ruth replaced the lively Moore in 77. Glover replaced MacDonald for Albion in 81.

We had to wait until the 86th minute to see a Queen’s move that got the fans off their seats. Kurtis Roberts hurdled tackles on a breathless run from his own half, and finished it inside their box with a cross that was defended for a corner. 

McLaren was booked for a foul in 88 and Albion’s final change was Murray for Thomson.

The final action was Ruth’s diving header from 8 yards saved by Ferrie. Now that really would have been hard on Albion.

So, if Homer was being unkind, he could say that’s two-and-a-half hours we’ve lost today. Keep the faith.

Queen’s Park: Jordan Hart, Scott McLean, Ciaran Summers, Jamie McKernon, Dominic McLaren, Scott Gibson, Calvin McGrory, Kurtis Roberts, Lewis Hawke, David Galt, Kieran Moore. Subs: Kieran McDougall, Alan Gow, Steven Bradley, Euan East, Gerry McLauchlan, Michael Ruth, Lewis Magee.

Stirling Albion: Ferrie, Banner, McGregor, Allan, Hughes, Hamilton, Wright, Docherty, Smith, MacDonald. Thomson. Subs: Marr, Horne, Ashmore, Glover, Binnie, McLear, Murray

Referee: David Lowe.