Brechin City 3 Queen’s Park 1
It was one of those glorious afternoons that make jaunts like the one to Brechin a joy to behold. Scotland was at its majestic best, with the snow on the hilltops completing the picture postcard views.
But for those in the Hampden ranks who have made this trip on more than a few occasions, it has often been better to travel in hope and wonder than to arrive and suffer a disappointing bloody nose. Sadly, this was to prove another of those days when the journey, and the pre-match meal, were by far the most enjoyable part of the experience.
Our last trip to Glebe Park saw the Spiders pick up a point in a drab scoreless draw. At the time, we were delighted to head home with something to show for our efforts. It’s a measure of how far we have come this season that we headed north today with high hopes of cementing our place in the promotion play-off places.
We should have known better. Your scribe had a full head of hair the last time we won at Brechin, and the Oscar hosts might get their envelopes right before we win on this surface again.
Gus MacPherson had us guessing about his line-up before the game .. and he had undoubtedly kept a few aces up his sleeve. Adam Cummins had recovered from injury to take his place, while Dario Zanatta was also included after returning from international duty with Canada. Ross Millen was available after serving his one-match suspension.
So the Spiders line-up looked like this: Willie Muir, Ross Millen, Bryan Wharton, Adam Cummins, Ryan McGeever, Sean Burns, Jamie McKernon, Paul Woods, Dominic Docherty, Dario Zanatta and Anton Brady.
It was a selection that gave us scope to dream, and after surviving a very early scare when Muir had to be alert to deal with a miscued clearance, those dreams looked to be built on solid foundations.
Queen’s were playing down the slope, with the wind at their back – and took the lead with the game’s first serious attack.
The Spiders won a foul on our left, and as McKernon swung the ball in, Wharton arrived at the far post with the precision timing of a Swiss watch to plant the ball firmly into the net.
It was the perfect start, with only three minutes on the clock. It almost got better within 90 seconds as Woods found space to test keeper Smith with a shot, but it all went downhill from there on.
There were only 11 minutes played when the home side got back on level terms. There was a hint of offside as Brechin broke and won a foul in a dangerous position. But there was no dubiety about the way Love finished the move when the ball arrived at the far post.
After such a bright start by both teams, the supporters who had braved the chilly elements could have been forgiven for anticipating a cracker of a game. Unfortunately, the conditions were against flowing football, with the ball bobbling on the tricky surface – and the football fare offered up suffered as a result.
The home side adapted better, and took the lead with another set-piece goal after 26 minutes. Queen’s should have been aware of the threat posed by centre-half Hill, but as a corner was swung in, he had plenty space to bury a header behind Muir.
Queen’s were rattled by the turnaround in the scoreline and could have gone further behind before the break. Hill had chances from two more set-pieces, but couldn’t hit the target, while Muir denied Jackson and Graham as the home side went for the killer third goal.
Thankfully, they didn’t find the net and Queen’s made it to the dressing room without further damage.
Brechin City 2 Queen’s Park 1
With Brechin having the slope and the wind in their favour in the second period, things looked bleak for the Spiders. Graham had a shot blocked before Watt spurned a chance by shooting wide from just outside the box.
Queen’s did, however, start to enjoy more possession as they settled into the half, without carving out too many clear openings. We saw a couple of corners easily cleared before Brady shot narrowly wide after 55 minutes.
Just on the hour, a good break up the right by Millen saw us win three corners in very quick succession, but referee McKendrick brought the spell of pressure to an end by blowing for a foul by Wharton.
Fouls and corners became the order of the day as play remained scrappy. Gus tried to change things midway through the half, bringing on Kalvin Orsi to support Zanatta. Brady was the player to make way as the Spiders tried to adopt a more direct approach.
As the game meandered towards the final 10 minutes, both bosses tried another roll of the dice. Queen’s brought on David Galt for Woods and then replaced Millen with Aidan McIlduff. Brechin brought on Lynas for Love.
None of the changes sparked the game to life, and although the Spiders had far more of the ball, Smith wasn’t seriously troubled as the 90 minutes came and went.
But if things had been quiet up to this point of the second period, there was a positive flurry of frantic action in time added on. Orsi could have become an instant hero in the 91st minute, but while his header found the target, Smith dived to his right to deny Kalvin his moment of glory.
McKernon then went into the book for a foul on Graham … the first caution of the evening.
And as Queen’s desperately tried to find an equaliser, they were caught by the inevitable sucker punch. Watt set up Jackson and the experienced striker put the game to bed with an assured finish.
It was a disappointing end to a night that had begun so well, but it’s not a feeling that should be unfamiliar to fans of the Spiders in Glebe Park.
As a measure of how tight this league is, the defeat sees Queen’s drop to sixth spot in the table … rather than the third place that victory would have brought us. Next up is a visit from runaway leaders Livingston who will be desperate to gain revenge for the two defeats inflicted on them already this season by Gus MacPherson’s men. It would be lovely to get the hat-trick, but our next away trip – to Stranraer the following Saturday – could be far more critical in terms of how the season pans out.
Keep the Faith.