Queen’s Park 2 Albion Rovers 0
Gus MacPherson’s new squad has impressed with how quickly they’ve gelled as a defensive unit, so the manner of last week’s defeat at Annan was all the more surprising.
The 3-1 scoreline wasn’t a true reflection of a game we dominated yet lost, thanks to a defensively crazy eight-minute spell at the start of the second-half.
You would imagine, then, that normal service could quickly be restored today against a team that has lost all eight of their games this season, conceding 25 goals and scoring only one.
You can imagine all you like. It’s Queen’s Park v Albion Rovers we’re talking about, and since when have our meetings been simple?
Coach MacPherson made two changes from the Annan starting X1, and he produced yet another new face.
Lewis Hawke, a left-sided striker with previous at Morton, the aforementioned Galabankies, and US college team Furman Paladins in South Carolina, signed on Thursday and went straight into what looked like a very attack-minded team.
Lewis is the son of legendary Ton striker and Cappielow big cheese Warren Hawke. We wish him well at Hampden.
Ciaran Summers came back to replace young Alistair Miller and Dean Kindlan was added to an injury list that already included brother Daniel, Dominic McLaren, Daniel Nimmo, Josh Peters and Calvin McGrory.
And the bench included five youth players as the QP conveyor belt kicked into action.
And yet another new face was on the sidelines today in coach Mark Roberts. He was a prolific scorer in his well-travelled playing days, and at 42 was still doing the business for Hurlford.
It still seems strange to see a Rovers defence without the ex-QP Dunlop brothers Mick and Ross at its heart, but Albion have another ex-Spider in central defence in the burly shape of bearded warrior and captain Bryan Wharton.
It was a beautiful day for football, and the Hampden pitch looked stunning.
Queen’s got an early taste of the trademark Wharton long throw under the main stand in two minutes and dealt with it comfortably.
Our first foray forward resulted in a corner, conceded by Wharton, and when McKernon’s kick was cleared Roberts sent it straight back with a right-foot shot that was just wide of the post.
For all their problems, Rovers looked far from intimidated and Watson and then Wilson tried their hand from distance with shots that were well wide of the target.
Queen’s sprung into life in 13 minutes with lovely one-touch interplay down the right, but young James Grant had a nosebleed when he found himself on the end of then move and overhit his cross.
But Queen’s went ahead two minutes later with a delightful goal from the talented Roberts, a lovely chip from outside the box that keeper Potts at full stretch could only help into the net.
It was just the start Queen’s would have wanted, and they went in search of another when Grant delivered a perfect pass ahead of lone front man Mortimer down the right, but his cross was cleared.
And Mortimer was denied his first senior goal in 20 minutes when Potts made a brilliant one-handed save at full stretch to keep out the striker’s hitch-kick, after another fine build-up this time down the left.
A wee burst of football there from Queen’s to match the sunshine, and it continued with Osadolor’s cross-cum-shot coming off the far post with Potts beaten, then the keeper saving from Mortimer with his feet and Hawke seeing his shot from the rebound blocked.
It should have been 2-0 in 34 minutes, with Osadolor somehow sending the ball over the top from six yards with an attempted header that seemed to come off his shoulder.
It was certainly one-way traffic, but Queen’s needed the cushion of a second goal (at least), if only to save the old nerves of Homer and Gulliver.
And the boys duly obliged right on half-time, with Mortimer scoring that first elusive goal in his 41st appearance, coming inside after a splendid McKernon through ball and driving a low shot that took a slight deflection on its way past Potts.
Well done, Billy. The floodgates are open!
Half-time: Queen’s Park 2 Albion Rovers 0
Why do Homer and Gulliver not take comfort in the half-time news that the bookies are quoting Rovers at 100-1 to win this game? It’s called experience, of the painful variety.
Rovers had made a change at the break, Reid coming on for Wilson, but their odds get even longer five minutes in when they were reduced to 10 men.
McKernon sprayed a pass wide right to McLean, his low cross found Mortimer in the box, and the striker was taken down by Eley as he was about to shoot.
Penalty and red card for the Rovers No6, but Potts saved Gibson’s penalty and then palmed a Mortimer header over the bar after Gibson had retrieved his own rebound and crossed back into the box.
Rovers were forced into another change, Fagan coming on for Guthrie, as Queen’s tried to turn the screw. Minutes later they made their final change, Kearney on for McGeough.
Summers was the first booking in 65 minutes for a foul on Fisher, and the full-back then needed a saving tackle on Cunningham after he had missed a Potts kick-out.
Queen’s were looking decidedly flat after their goals, and they freshened it with a double change in 70 minutes, young pair MacPherson and East replacing scoring machine Mortimer and debutant Hawke.
Four minutes later, Osadolor was replaced by Martin.
Fisher was booked for downing Summers in 88 minutes, and McMahon and MacPherson were both booked for a spot of handbags on time up, but this would certainly not go down in the annals of famous Spiders-Rovers slugfests.
So, normal service is indeed resumed, but when was it last this easy against Rovers?
It won’t always be like this, so Keep the Faith.
Queen’s Park: Jordan Hart, James Grant, Ciaran Summers, Jamie McKernon, Gerry McLauchlan, Scott Gibson, Kurtis Roberts, Smart Osadolor (Martin 74), Scott McLean, Lewis Hawke (East 70), Billy Mortimer (MacPherson 70). Subs: Alistair Miller, Adam Martin, Cameron Foy, Ewan MacPherson, Anthony McGuire, Euan East, Jack Dunlop.
Albion Rovers: Daniel Potts, Barry Eley, Lewis Wilson, Bryan Wharton, Lawrence McMahon, Scott Forester, John Guthrie, Paul McGeough, John Cunningham, Gary Fisher, Jamie Watson. Subs: Ronan Kearney, Jamie Gallagher, Graham Gracie, Sean Fagan, Lewis McLear, Chris Wylie, Aaron Reid.