Queen’s Park 1 Stirling Albion 1
SO Jeremy Corbyn’s missionary work in Scotland last week was to prove pointless. Homer hadn’t realised Magic Grandpa Jezza was organising last Saturday’s Queen’s Park campaign in the Coatbridge constituency. Yes, that proved pointless, too — and as shambolic as Corbyn’s Labour.
The 2-0 defeat to Albion Rovers — both goals coming in the first 18 minutes — was a depressing end to what had been a marvellous run for Queen’s.
But Mark Roberts is not our first head coach to lose his next game after picking up an SPFL award — and hopefully he won’t be the last if it means we’re again enjoying a winning run!
Missing through injury at Cliftonhill was Nicky Jamieson, who is fast becoming a very influential centre half. The big man was back for today’s visit of the other Albion, from Stirling, and was a straight swap for the suspended Creag Little. The only other change from last week was Ryan Finnie in for his debut start at right back in place of Willie Mortimer.
Also back after injury was Calvin McGrory, and he was on the bench.
Stirling, who are just two points behind us in League Two, had former Spiders Dom Docherty and Josh Peters on the bench.
Both games with Stirling here last season ended all square. David Galt scored the only goal at Stirling in the first league game of this season, so it could again be close.
Coatbridge last week was a rain-lashed ordeal. Hampden was looking somewhat brighter by kick-off time – helped greatly by the floodlights being on – and the rain had lessened to a light drizzle. But it was freezzzing.
The first 10 minutes passed without incident – which was a relief for Homer’s frozen fingers – but Albion keeper Currie needed treatment after hurting his leg while clearing.
The game and the crowd came to life in 12 minutes, when Queen’s were denied what looked a great penalty shout. Finnie’s right foot whipped cross was heading for Salim at the far post, but the striker was blatantly barged in the back by a defender and referee Cook surprisingly waved away Spiders appeals.
Currie looked to be OK when he held a Joffrey free-kick at the second attempt, but he went down again in 17 minutes and had to be replaced by sub keeper Binnie.
Queen’s went close in 20 minutes when Summers hit the bar with a corner, but apart from that the action had mainly been confined to midfield.
Salim won a free kick 25 yards out in 27, but Galt’s low kick was comfortably taken by Binnie.
Willis had a free kick for Albion in a similar position two minutes later but the wall blocked it.
The action was very even, but Queen’s went close again just after the half-hour, Galt’s low drive being blocked over the bar by McGeachie.
Block was booked for a foul in 33.
But it was Stirling who broke the deadlock in 35 minutes with a poor goal to lose. Joffrey lost Heaver at a throw-in deep in the Spiders right and he had all the time in the world to pick out Mackin in the box to sidefoot easily past Muir.
Mark Roberts was understandably raging, having warned pre-match about the importance of the first goal to Queen’s this season.
It took a saving sliding tackle by Jamieson two minutes later to stop Mackin in the box, then Muir did well to turn the same player’s shot onto the post. Queen’s were suddenly displaying last week’s frailties.
Nicoll was booked for a trademark challenge on Joffrey in 44, Muir held a well-struck shot from Jardine, we had a shot blocked off the line from a corner scramble, and that was that for another forgettable 45 minutes for Queen’s.
Half-time: Queen’s Park 0 Stirling Albion 1
There were no changes in personnel after the break but it was to be hoped there would be a change in approach from Queen’s.
Galt had been quiet but four minutes in he lashed a shot from distance just over the top.
Salim was booked in 53 for what Mr Cook indicated was persistent fouling, then he won a corner with a deflected shot four minutes later as Queen’s toiled to get back in the game.
Albion almost made it 2-0 on the hour, and again it was self-inflicted as Queen’s lost and Heaver raced clear to fire just wide.
Mark Roberts had seen enough – or not enough, to be more accurate – and in 63 he sent on Alfie and Purdue for Block and Clark.
Just like last week, Queen’s were struggling to make any impact on the game – they were awful, actually – and they needed Muir in 74 minutes to turn a powerful drive from Mackin over the bar.
Albion sent on Thomson for Bikey in 76, and he was booked two minutes later for time wasting. McGrory replaced Main.
But Queen’s finally got their act together when they equalised in 79 minutes, and from an unlikely source.
Galt did the spadework, working the space for Finnie of all people to cut across the box and score with a left foot shot.
And it almost got even better in 86 minutes, when Joffrey’s corner struck Alfie two yards out and the ball spun over the bar.
Creaney was booked for hauling back Galt in 87 and right on 90 he was given a second yellow for doing exactly the same thing. It wasn’t the only act of stupidity seen here, but at least Queen’s didn’t end up pointless this week.
It’s Cove Rangers here next week in our final home game of 2019. And will it be Queen’s Park’s last Hampden Hogmanay? Keep the festive faith.
Queen’s Park: Willie Muir, Ryan Finnie, Ciaran Summers, Tommy Block, Nicky Jamieson, Cameron Clark, Cameron Foy, Luke Main, Salim Kouider-Aissa, David Galt, Joffrey Lidouren. Subs: Jacques Herraghty, Willie Mortimer, Calvin McGrory, Kieran Moore, Alfredo Agyeman, Scott Gibson, Jack Purdue.
Stirling Albion: Blair Currie, Ross McGeachie, Paul McLean, James Creaney, Jordan McGregor, Nguene Bikey, Danny Jardine, Kevin Nicoll, Paul Willis, Sean Heaver, Dylan Mackin. Subs: Kyle Banner, Dom Docherty, Cammie Binnie (gk), Max Wright, Josh Peters, Cammie Thomson, Darryl Duffy.
Referee: Barry Cook.