Queen’s Park 2 Elgin City 0

 SO what do you think of it so far, our brave new world? Five games in, would we have advanced as much had Ray McKinnon not splashed the cash? I don’t believe so.

Homer’s post-pyramid pre-season aspiration (a plea, actually) has been for Queen’s to finish ninth. But after 13 points from a possible 15? Hope has been elbowed aside by expectation, and if we are not contesting the promotion play-offs I won’t be alone in feeling gutted. So no pressure there, Ray.

Our four wins and a draw under the new coach have been earned through a pleasing mixture of guile and grit, as demonstrated in last week’s astonishing 3-1 win at Stirling Albion. Long may it continue.

Having recently beaten Edinburgh City and Cowdenbeath, today it’s another huge game against a team standing between us and the play-offs promised land.

Elgin City currently hold that fourth place, two points ahead of the Spiders but having played one game more.

Like Queen’s they are in good form, and dumping leaders Cove Rangers 3-0 at Borough Briggs last week showed their quality.

We drew 0-0 against Elgin here in August and then lost 3-1 at their place in October. The dangerous Shane Sutherland scored two that day, but he’s out today with a hamstring injury.

Ray McKinnon made one change from last week’s starting team, and it was somewhat of a bold surprise, with Kieran Moore being rewarded for his two goals last week and general positive play with a start, but at the expense of winger Ross MacLean, man of the match in our last two home games.

Meanwhile, amid all the inevitable QP squad changes, club skipper Scott Gibson has left us for pastures new. The young man can be proud of his combative 12 years in the Hoops, and we thank him for the memories and wish him and his family well.

And congratulations to QP legend Peter Buchanan on his 82nd birthday.

 It’s a beautiful drive between Elgin and Glasgow (apart from the average-speed spies) but no-one would envy our visitors that return journey today amid the menace of Storm Dennis.

It was a wicked afternoon of gale-force wind and relentless Hampden swirling rain, and the sodden underfoot conditions were destined to make the game a bit of a lottery as Elgin won the toss, chose to defend the home end, and Queen’s kicked off.

But there was nothing lucky about the Queen’s opener in five minutes. Young Josh Doig, no doubt still basking in the glory as the latest Spider to make an SPFL team of the week, swung over a delightful cross from the left and Salim guided the cutest of headers down and past the stranded McHale.

It was Salim’s 16th goal of the season, and the perfect start for Queen’s. 

Elgin were yet to test Willie Muir 15 minutes in, their only effort being a Hester attempted lob from outside the box that sailed wide.

Doig was looking good, having had one Robertsonesque sortie, and then his driven cross only just eluded Salim eight yards out.

To their credit, both teams were trying to get the ball down and get their passing going, although Elgin were perhaps having to change their game without Sutherland as a target.

Hester, though, should have done better when presented with Elgin’s first chance in 31 minutes. He looked suspiciously offside as he was put through one on one with Muir, but he shot tamely straight at  the keeper, who even had time to bend down and pick the ball up.

Queen’s had a delightful quick break, from Elgin’s corner, in 36. Salim sent Galt down the left and his cross was inches from finding the outstretched foot of Moore six yards out.

Queen’s were working hard and controlling the game as we approached half-time, but a second goal would certainly settle the nerves. The pitch had held up well, but the rain hadn’t stopped for a second.

Half-time: Queen’s Park 1 Elgin City 0

To the undoubted delight of QP kitman Rhodesie, the Spiders came out in all new kit for the second half. It was difficult to see if Elgin, with their black pants, had also changed.

Salim had McHale scrambling with a snapshot two minutes in, then in quick time the striker again just failed to connect with Moore as he drove into the box and King’s corner flew through the six-yard box without a taker.

Elgin made a change in 50 minutes, ex-Spider Smart Osadolor replacing O’Keefe.

Queen’s had a sweeping move started in the left back position and finishing with Finnie on the right failing to beat the first man with his cross.

Then Jamieson showed good recovery pace to get back and slide the ball to Muir as Osadolor burst through.

Elgin made another change in 55, Omar on for Spark.

On the hour, Queen’s had a great chance to open that two-goal gap. The impressive Doig galloped down the left and his pinpoint cross found King alone at the far post, but the midfielder made a hash of his header and sent it wide.

Morrison was the first booking, which given the conditions said a lot for the players 62 minutes in.

One goal is never enough; that’s long been the QP mantra, and it almost came true again in 70 minutes. Osadolor played a lovely ball into the path of Hester and although the striker beat Muir, his low shot trickled past the post. A let off.

Elgin were certainly having more of an impact this half, having pushed plenty of men forward, and Queen’s changed it in 72 when Moore and MacLean swapped places again.

But cometh the hour (or in this case the 79th minute), cometh the Galt. And the Doig.

The young left back, having a splendid game in defence and attack, rampaged down the left for the umpteenth time, slipped it to Galtie just outside the box, and the skipper sent a trademark rocket whizzing past McHale and in at the far side netting. A stoater.

And by sheer coincidence, he headed straight for QP snapper Ian Cairns, who was perfectly placed to record the celebrations.

Lidouren then replaced King – and Elgin sent on Dingwall for McKay for their last change.

Queen’s kept control to the end to secure those three vital points and take that play-off spot.

We’re off on our travels now to Cove and then Brechin. Keep the Faith.

Queen’s Park: Willie Muir, Ryan Finnie, Josh Doig, Nicky Jamieson, Peter Grant, Adam King, Stuart Morrison, Jake Davidson, Salim Kouider-Aissa, David Galt, Kieran Moore. Subs: Ross MacLean, James Grant, Luke Main, Joffrey Lidouren, Creag Little, Alfredo Agyeman, Cammy Bell.

Elgin City: Thomas McHale; Matthew Cooper, Euan Spark, Ross Graham, Stephen Bronsky, Archie Macphee; Daniel MacKay, Brian Cameron, Rory MacEwan, Conor O’Keefe; Kane Hester. Subs: Russell Dingwall, Aidan Sopel, Smart Osadolor, David Wilson, Rabin Omar, Charlie Hay, Oliver Kelly (gk).

Referee: Scott Lambie

Ray speaks to QPTV after the game