The New Year has begun with Queen’s Park enjoying a new position at the top of the Championship table as a result of a 2-0 win over visitors Partick Thistle thanks to goals from Simon Murray and Pat Jarrett.

For his first team selection of 2023 Head Coach Owen Coyle brought Josh McPake back into the starting line-up after illness kept him out of the 4-1 success at Arbroath just two days before Christmas.

New signing Aaron Healy from Arthurlie was listed as a substitute.

After a minutes’ applause to mark the life of Pele, Queen’s kicked off shooting towards the terraced end of Ochilview that housed the visiting fans from the Firhill club.

The hosts earned a corner after 90 seconds and after a deep cross from Dom Thomas had been cleared, McPake looked to manufacture space for an attempt at goal however he was crowded out and the ball was cleared.

Thomas did get a shot in with three minutes played however Jamie Sneddon was well-placed to stop his low effort with the Thistle shot-stopper excelling shortly afterwards as he pushed away a drive from Lee Kilday who had broken forward and created danger.

Coyle’s side continued to press and with five minutes gone they took the lead when Grant Savoury darted from right to left and picked out Tommy Robson who slipped a return pass to the attacker.

Savoury darted towards the by-line before picking out MURRAY with a low left foot cross and the skipper applied a first-time side-foot finish from four yards.

Thistle were stung by the loss of the goal and Charlie Fox had to clear off the line on eight minutes after Calum Ferrie had partially stopped a shot from Aidan Fitzpatrick who found himself in space on the left and had beaten Kilday to the ball.

The play was soon back at the other end and McPake was not too far away with a drive that flashed past Sneddon before travelling wide.

The pace continued to be fast as McPake exchanged passes with Murray on 12 minutes before being crowded out with appeals for a foul on the striker just as he was about to shoot ignored by referee Steven Kirkland.

Thistle had the next chance when Harry Milne whipped in a cross for Brian Graham with the striker sending a header inches over Ferrie’s bar.

On 16 minutes Ferrie left two Partick attackers for dead as he dribbled out of his box before sliding a pass upfield to set up an attack that ended when Thomas fired just off target.

Three minutes later Ferrie used his hands to great effect as he got down low to push away a Graham header from a Jack McMillan chipped cross.

It was the visitor’s turn to appeal to whistler Kirkland on 26 minutes when Milne tumbled to the turf with Kilday in close attendance on the host’s 18-yard line however nothing was given.

Thistle enjoyed a good spell of pressure around the half-hour mark and a Savoury foul added to that as it allowed Turner to fire over a cross that caused a scramble at the far-post before being cleared.

Queen’s enjoyed a foray into their opponents’ half on 36 minutes and, after Malachi Boateng had been fouled 25 yards out, Murray tried his luck from the set-piece however the ball drifted wide as did a shot from Jack Thomson a minute later.

Three minutes from the break the visiting Darren Brownlie was booked for a crunching challenge on McPake with Steven Lawless then yellow-carded for failing to retreat ten yards as Thomas looked to take the resulting free-kick which was cleared for a fruitless corner.

Graham found himself in the book as well before the break with the teams trooping off with the Black and White hosts leading by Murray’s goal.

The Jags kept the Spiders waiting on the pitch at the start of the second half and when they emerged it was with two substitutes coming on with Kevin Holt replacing Brownlie and Lee Hodson taken the place of Cole McKinnon.

The replacements were given little time to settle as Thomas cracked over a free-kick that Kilday was only inches away from converting.

Kilday was prominent in his own box shortly afterwards with a perfectly timed tackle however Queen’s struggled to clear and as Thistle pushed and probed Hodson sent a 20 yarder against the outside of a post.

After a Murray run on the Thistle goal was ended with an offside flag Hodson tried his luck from distance again on 54 minutes with Boateng sliding into block with Graham sending the loose ball wide.

Just after the hour mark it looked like a second goal was coming for Queen’s as Thomson looped over a cross from the left which dropped perfectly for the diving Murray six yards however Sneddon was perfectly placed to save his header.

Thistle added the fire-power of Danny Mullen and Anton Dowds midway through the second half and Fox had rise high to clear away a corner with Boateng getting in the way of Mullen’s shot when the ball landed 18 yards out.

With 18 minutes left Kilday cut out a cross at the expense of a corner that Ferrie did well to rise and claim.

The second goal that the game deserved arrived on 76 minutes and it came from recently introduced Queen’s substitute PAT JARRETT. Tommy Robson was again involved as he played a precise pass through a wall of red and yellow shirts to the feet of Jarrett 30 yards out and the number 27 hared forward before slipping a shot under Sneddon from 10 yards.

Ferrie dashed from goal to kick clear from Anthony Weston’s toes shortly afterwards with the goalkeeper relieved that a ricochet off the substitute did not create too much danger.

As the visitors looked to get a goal back Weston wriggled clear on the right with the danger ending when Jake Davidson slid in with a perfectly timed tackle.

Healy was given a run-out with two minutes left when he replaced Savoury with Longridge taking the place of McPake at the same time with Ferrie ensuring that the game was seen out without the loss of a goal as he made a late clutch.

2023 is off and running!

Queen’s Park: Calum Ferrie, Jake Davidson, Lee Kilday, Charlie Fox, Tommy Robson, Malachi Boateng, Jack Thomson, Dom Thomas (Pat Jarrett 70), Grant Savoury (Aaron Healy 88), Josh McPake (Louis Longridge 88), Simon Murray (Scott Williamson 82). Subs not used: Jason Naismith, Jacques Heraghty (G/k), Alex Bannon, Lennon Connolly, Stephen Eze,

Partick Thistle: Jamie Sneddon, Jack McMillan, Harry Milne, Darren Brownlie (Kevin Holt 46), Kyle Turner, Brian Graham (Anton Dowds 68), Steven Lawless, Cole McKinnon (Lee Hodson 46), Aidan Fitzpatrick (Daniel Mullen 68, Aaron Muirhead, Ross Docherty (Anthony Weston 76). Subs not used: David Mitchell (G/k), Cammy Smith, James Lyon, Zander Mackenzie

Referee: Steven Kirkland

Starting Eleven