Queen’s Park 4 Elgin City 1
There are some things that are just meant to go together – ham and eggs, strawberries and cream, Batman and Robin – to name just three. You can now add another one to that list, David Galt and Queen’s Park. Since returning to Hampden a few weeks ago, Galtie looks like a man who has rediscovered his joie de vivre. And today was the icing on the cake as one of the quickest hat-tricks in QP history (if not the quickest) sealed a 4-1 victory over Elgin City and wrote Galt’s name into QP folklore.
But while DG will rightly claim the headlines, this was by no means a one-man show, and gaffer Mark Roberts will be a happy man as he reflects on back-to-back league victories in successive games for the first time this season.
Queen’s returned to our Hampden home comforts today after weeks on the road heading north, south, east – and south again, And while the squad would have a wee spring in their step after the midweek victory at Berwick there was no hint of spring in the air at Hampden – despite the calendar telling us that winter was long gone. Early morning snow, coupled with the consistent rain that has swept Scotland for weeks, led to a raft of postponements across the country, Thankfully, the National Stadium surface was perfectly playable, if a tad wet.
Conditions were, in fact, pretty similar to our last outing at HQ – that 1-1 draw with Clyde which became a 3-0 victory after the powers-that-be hammered the Bully Wee for fielding an ineligible player.
Queen’s had yet to record a victory against Elgin this season, having managed to snatch a draw from the jaws of victory last time out at Borough Briggs when we let slip a 2-0 lead very late on. The good news pre-match was that there were no fresh injuries brought back from Berwick, so the Gaffer wasn’t expected to make too many changes to the starting XI.
In the end, he made no changes at all and gave the nod to the team that started at Shielfield. The average age of the bench was, however, slightly higher than we’d seen in midweek. The Shielfield subs for Queen’s Park must have been among the youngest ever put out by the Spiders. Josh Peters was the “Old Man” of that seven – and he’s just 22. Peters was absent today, with 36-year-old Alan Gow taking his place, but once again, all other six subs were born after the turn of the century.
Elgin kicked off and launched a promising attack down their left, but it was Queen’s who had the first real moment when Kieran Moore broke and slipped in Lewis Hawke. The ball finally arrived at the feet of Calvin McGrory whose shot was deflected for a fruitless corner.
Not a bad opening 50 seconds.
As we got to five minutes, Queen’s had another double chance. Roberts nicked the ball off Omar and drove forward before releasing Hawke. Lewis saw his shot blocked and then Kurtis was denied on the follow up.
Elgin showed they weren’t here to make up the numbers a couple of minutes later when Hart had to look lively to pluck a dangerous cross off the head of MacIver. And they took the lead after nine minutes when Morrison broke on the right and MacIver buried the cutback beyond Hart.
Thankfully, it only took Queen’s two minutes to get back on terms. A corner on the right was headed down by Big Dom McLaren and Roberts lashed it into the roof of the net. As our press box chum Craig Stewart commented … defences well on top (not)
The first booking of the afternoon arrived after 15 minutes – Omar was very late on Moore and couldn’t argue about the decision. Moments later, Cameron was very lucky to escape a card when he took Galt right out in midfield. Somehow, a warning was deemed sufficient punishment on this occasion.
Queen’s were well on top, but as is often the case with the Spiders, they could have gone behind after 23 minutes when MacIver ghosted onto a great ball from Omar and headed narrowly wide.
Gourlay produced one of the saves of the season when a gorgeous interchange down the QP right gave Scott McLean a shooting chance. His effort was going to make Gourlay work, but a deflection made the keeper’s task even harder. He was up to the challenge, however, and tipped the effort over for a corner which he then came to claim.
Bronsky became the second booking after 42 minutes when he was way off the beat as Moore skinned him. The free kick was too close to Gourlay and the last action of an entertaining first half passed.
Queen’s Park 1 Elgin City 1
Neither side made any changes at the break, but the early stages of the half were nowhere near as entertaining as the first period had been.
Elgin made the first impact with a neat move between MacIver and Roberts, whose shot didn’t clear the bar by much.
Galt won Queen’s our first corner of the second half after 51 minutes. The cross was cleared to Summers and his first time effort cleared the bar.
Things got a bit bogged down in the middle of the park as the half progressed, but a QP break promised much as the hour mark approached. The normally excellent Roberts produced a bad first touch though and the chance was lost.
The offside flag halted the next two Spider attacks, Moore and Hawke going a fraction early on both occasions.
Just when it looked as if the game was going nowhere, Queen’s took complete control.
Firstly, Galt put us ahead on 65 minutes after McLean’s cutback was only half cleared and DG buried the loose ball in the corner of Gourlay’s net.
That was the signal for the first change of the afternoon, McLeish replacing Roberts for the visitors.
But it was to no avail for Elgin, as two minutes later, Galt gave us some breathing space. Our Roberts (Kurtis) and McLean combined well and when the ball was cut back into the box, McGrory displayed a calmness way beyond his years to roll it into the path of Galt. DG took one touch, and just when the visiting support thought he’d overdone it – he toe-poked the ball into the roof of the net to make it 3-1.
Three minutes later – and just five minutes after his first goal – Galt earned his hat-trick. The non-stop Moore chased a loose back-pass and managed to get there before Gourlay. Unfortunately, Kieran lost his footing, but Galt was first to the ball. Forced wide by the keeper, David kept his nerve, waited for Gourlay to retreat … and then calmly chipped him to make it 4-1 for the Spiders.
With the game now surely won, Mark Roberts replaced Moore with Steven Bradley who instantly tried to mark his 17th birthday weekend with an audacious shot from distance which flew narrowly wide.
The next two changes by the home side reflected as big a contrast as you could possibly see. Michael (Babe) Ruth came on after 78 minutes to allow Hawke a well-earned breather. And then, with 12 minutes remaining, Galt came off to a standing ovation to be replaced by Gow. Our final sub was already a professional footballer when our first subs of the afternoon made their entries into this world.
McGrory had one more effort deflected for a corner before Omar had the game’s final shot. He went close from a fair distance out, but like the rest of the Elgin team, this just wasn’t to be their day.
The final whistle brought another good day at HQ to a satisfactory conclusion. Our last three games have seen us score 12 goals (14 if you add in the Clyde “bonus”. But far more important, we’ve seen the team get back to the type of football that gave us all such an enjoyable time in October. We’ve also been given a tantalising glimpse of what might be to come with the Gaffer blooding some precocious talent from the QP conveyor belt.
There will no doubt be disappointments ahead before the end of the season, but for now let’s all just enjoy the final scoreline from a wet Hampden Park:
Queen’s Park 4 Elgin City 1.
Keep the Faith.