Stranraer 3 Queen’s Park 0
Much of the pre-match talk ahead of our trip to Stranraer was the road works on the A77 and the various options under consideration to get to the ground. The answers to that one ranged from Motorways to single track farm roads.
After another disappointing result that sees us slip to the foot of the League 1 pile, the question is how we’re going to manage to turn this season around. If Gus and his staff can find the answer to that one soon, then we’ll all be a lot happier.
The Gaffer tried to switch things around a bit with his team selection, recalling Conor McVey at the expense of Anton Brady and bringing Scott Gibson into his central defensive line-up to replace Kevin Green. And there were some grounds for optimism ahead of kick-off. Our last two outings to Stair Park have netted us four points, while this season’s match between the two teams saw the Spiders overturn a two-goal deficit to earn a battling draw.
Sadly, once the action got under way, that optimism quickly faded. After only two minutes, a slick passing move cut us apart and former Spider Paul Woods should have done better than screw his shot wide from the centre of the box.
The home side had the next chance as well, Wallace shooting over the top from a free kick after McVey was penalised just outside the QP box.
Seven minutes in came the first big talking point. Hamill sliding in to a reckless challenge on Ciaran Summers which left the QP youngster in a crumpled heap. He did get back into the action after treatment, but looked far from his usual sprightly self.
Referee Lowe saw nothing amiss with that tackle, and as the law of Sod will always apply in football, Hamill was the man who set up the Stranraer opener after 12 minutes. He fired over a menacing cross from the right to our back post and as we failed to deal with it, the lanky figure of Grant Anderson appeared to knock the ball over the line.
It was just what we didn’t need, and there were worries things were going to get even worse five minutes later when Ross Millen and Anderson bashed heads going for the ball. Fortunately from a QP perspective, Ross recovered quickly, but Anderson was not so lucky and although the backroom team did their best to patch him up, he soon left the field with his head swathed in a bandage to be replaced by Neill.
At almost the same time, Summers limped off to be replaced by Brady as the Hamill challenge finally took its toll.
Queen’s were finding it hard to get a toehold on the game at this stage and it took good blocks by first Gibson and then McVey to ensure we remained at least in touch.
As the half hour approached, the Spiders strung together their best moment. A neat move down our left saw Burns whip in a cross which had the home defence in all sorts of trouble. unfortunately, the ball bounced up in the box and glanced off Docherty’s arm – just as Millen was ready to pounce.
Hamill was then penalised for a studs up challenge on Docherty and was a tad fortunate to escape a card.
At least the anger produced a positive reaction from the Spiders and we came close to grabbing the equaliser when a good ball in from Burns found the head of Adam Cummins and he was only inches away with his effort.
It was vital that we didn’t concede anything more now that we were competing better, and Willie Muir had to be quick off his line to deny the onrushing Woods.
But the keeper was helpless when the home side doubled their lead two minutes from the break. It was all too easy as another corner was swung in and Bell found himself in splendid isolation to plant a header into the back of our net.
We now had a mountain to climb as the half time whistle soon sounded with the score:
Stranraer 2 Queen’s Park 0
The Spiders were out early for the start of the second period, the hope being that a word or two from the manager would improve the situation.
They certainly started brighter and were unlucky not to get one goal back after just 90 seconds when Donnelly saw an effort go just the wrong side of the post.
The first yellow card of the afternoon was flashed after 51 minutes following a challenge from Brady. He wasn’t the player booked – that was McVey – possibly for expressing an opinion of whistler Lowe’s performance.
Docherty was replaced by Chris Duff after 55 minutes and we were almost back in the game seconds later as a Millen cross was glanced goalwards by McVey. Sadly, Belford was up to the task and leapt acrobatically to keep the header out.
Thomas Orr came on for Donnelly as Gus made his final change and we had a narrow escape as Muir and Cummins got themselves in a tangle dealing with a long ball. Thankfully, we escaped serious punishment.
The sub came close as time ticked away when his near post flick was again well saved by Belford.
The home side were now happy to run down the clock and although Queen’s huffed and puffed, they seldom threatened again.
As the frustration mounted, Fotheringham and Millen was carded and then right at the death, we conceded a third.
Yet again, it goes down as bad goal to lose. A short backpass left Muir struggling and Wallace was left with a walk in after the keeper’s clearance ricocheted favourably.
The final whistle was a blessed relief as the game was well and truly over, but what was not welcome was the news that Forfar had grabbed a late winner against Albion Rovers to leapfrog us into ninth place and send us to the foot of the table.
It’s going to be a difficult season, but we all knew that before a ball was kicked. A couple of victories might just be enough to give our failing confidence a boost and see us start to climb the table. Saturday, against Arbroath would be a good time to get the first of those wins.
Keep the Faith.
Queen’s Park: Willie Muir, Ross Millen, Ciaran Summers (Anton Brady), Jack Iredale, Adam Cummins, Scott Gibson, Conor McVey, Gregor Fotheringham, Luke Donnelly Thomas Orr), Dominic Docherty Chris Duff), Sean Burns. Unused subs: Micheal White, Luke Whelan, Lewis McGhee.