Stranraer 1 Queen’sPark 1
Queen’s dug deep to bring home a point from Stranraer after 90 minutes that will be remembered more for the performance of referee Ross than anything else. The whistler flashed nine cards quicker than any Vegas casino dealer, including two yellows for Spiders defender Adam Cummins. But despite ending the game with 10 men, Queen’s held on and their second successive 1-1 draw was no more than they deserved.
Most in the visiting camp had expected Gus to give the nod to the 11 who had started last Saturday against Livi. If that’s what the Gaffer had in mind, his plans were disrupted by the absence of Kelvin Orsi, so he had to make one change – replacing the sick loanee with David Galt.
The home side were in a rich vein of form heading into this one and tried to make their mark from the off.
Aided by Agnew’s ability to win fouls, they dominated the early stages without forcing Muir into serious action.
In fact, the first noteworthy action came after nine minutes when Donald limped off to be replaced by Wilson. Apart from that, the first 20 minutes was little more than a succession of soft fouls, giving the game no chance to develop any serious rhythm.
The first move of note for Queen’s came after 25 minutes when Zanatta was slipped through by Brady, but keeper Belford denied the striker with his feet.
Five minutes later came the moment the visiting support had been craving – and it was the classic example of what has become known as the commentator’s curse. Those wise old sages Gulliver and Archie the Hoodie had just discussed how Galt was having an off day when David picked the ball up wide on our left. He danced into the box past two defenders, before being upended.
It was an easy decision for Ross to point to the spot … and equally easy for Millen to convert with aplomb to put the Spiders 1-0 ahead.
Stranraer responded by winning a couple of corners on their right, but Muir claimed the first one and the solid head of Wharton took care of the next.
McKernon went close with a shot from distance as Queen’s tried to gain control of proceedings, but Muir was the busier keeper as the interval approached, standing tall to deny Agnew and keep the Spiders ahead.
Stranraer 0 Queen’s Park 1
Given the way the first period had gone, most expected Stranraer to fly out the traps after the interval, but it was the visitors who started the better. Zanatta and Galt both had sighters in the opening exchanges, without forcing Belford to do too much.
There were signs, however, that we were settling nicely – when Lady Luck intervened. With 55 minutes on the clock, Millen – who had just been booked for a nothing foul – overstretched as he passed the ball back to Muir. As he clutched the back of his leg, it was no surprise to see physio Andy Harrison signal that Ross’ afternoon was over. He was replaced by Aiden McIlduff.
Gulliver won’t bore you by listing all the bookings that dominated most of the remaining minutes. However, after 63 minutes, Ross carded Cummins for a soft offence. Thomson soon followed him into the book as he fouled Zanatta, giving McKernon the chance to test Belford with the resultant free kick.
Gibson had a chance with another set piece, but Muir took his effort easily. However, the Stair Park talisman had his moment as the clock ticked onto 75 minutes. He found space on the left and delivered a great ball into the middle which was knocked home by Malcolm.
With the scores now level again, the home side scented victory and piled the ball forward at every opportunity.
Trying to turn the tide, Gus brought on Ewan MacPherson for Galt, but momentum was now with the home side.
Despite ruling the roost on the possession front, Stranraer couldn’t make the pressure count and could have been punished the break as Brady pinged a great ball to Burns, but Sean couldn’t get enough on the header and Belford saved comfortably.
We were inside the final 10 minutes when Ross made his biggest decision, showing Cummins a second debatable yellow and the inevitable red.
It hadn’t been pretty thus far, and the final minutes were downright ugly as Stranraer loaded the box at every opportunity, while Queen’s showed commendable courage to take something from the game.
In the end, they survived a few wee scares and were still on terms when Ross blew the whistle for what seemed like the hundredth -but thankfully turned out to be the last – time in the afternoon.
It’s always a good point when you bring one home from Stair Park, but results elsewhere mean today’s was even more useful. We still sit in sixth place in the table – only three points off the promotion play-off places, and a decent seven away from the other contest that nobody wants to be part of.
Next week sees the start of the final quarter, with the Spiders far better placed than many would have anticipated.
No doubt there will be some low moments ahead, but this could yet be a season to savour for those who follow the remarkable football team that is Queen’s Park.
Keep the Faith!
Queen’s Park: Willie Muir, Ross Millen, Bryan Wharton, Adam Cummins, Ryan McGeever, Sean Burns, Jamie McKernon, Conor McVey, Anton Brady, Dario Zanatta and David Galt.