A lot has changed in the world since Queen’s Park last played in what was a scoreless draw against Stenhousemuir at Ochilview Stadium in early March. Our push for the promotion play-offs was subsequently halted and the season curtailed as we all adapted to our new restricted way of living. Seven long months later and the Spiders are finally taking to the field again in competitive action. Partick Thistle are the opposition and Firhill Stadium is the destination as Queen’s Park kick off their League Cup campaign.
The Spiders have been handed a challenging group with all clubs being full-time. A trip to play Greenock Morton follows this Tuesday with our remaining fixtures at home to Queen of the South and St Mirren to be played in November. Progression to the knock-out stages will be a tall task even with our new full-time status.
Head coach Ray McKinnon is currently in the process of assembling a strong squad ahead of the truncated League Two campaign.However, with injuries to Cammy Bell, Craig Slater, Simon Murray and Lee Kilday, the squad depth is already being tested with only the latter fit enough for a place on the bench.
Familiar faces were deployed at the heart of the defence with Willie Muir in goals (sporting an all dark green goalkeeper kit) alongside the centre-back pairing of Peter Grant and the now permanent signing of Stuart Morrison following his impressive loan spell towards to end last season.
With the exception of Ross MacLean – several of McKinnon’s new recruits were handed their Spiders’ debuts. The energetic Michael Doyle was deployed at right full-back with former Thistle player Tommy Robson returning to Firhill on the left side of the defence to complete the back four.
Grant Gillespie and Darren Lyon formed a central midfield partnership with Louis Longridge sitting just ahead of them. Bob McHugh spearheaded the attack with Celtic loanee Brody Paterson supporting from the left-wing and MacLean from the opposite flank.
The sides last met at the same stage last season with Partick Thistle ending up 2-1 winners at the Excelsior Stadium. Tommy Robson – then of Partick Thistle – scored and assisted that evening with former Spider Salim Kouider-Aissa (now on loan at Firhill following his move to Livingston) grabbing a headed consolation goal for Queen’s.
The Jags possess a strong squad and will be one of the favourites to win the League One title as they look to bounce back to the Championship at the first attempt. Managed by ex-Spider Ian McCall, Thistle named an attacking line-up determined to make up for their 4-1 defeat away to St Mirren in their opening midweek group fixture.