Queen’s Park 3 Arbroath 0
For much of the last 150 years Queen’s Park have made a habit of defying the odds.
We’ve won titles and promotions with players too young to shave or be allowed to travel without permission from their school teacher.
We’ve remained true to our founding amateur principles, despite a rampant, rising tide of greed engulfing the glorious game.
But if we were to secure a place in League 1 next season, we’d have to beat the bookies again and produce an escape act to rival anything Houdini ever managed.
It had to begin today, with nothing less than victory over a promotion-chasing Arbroath side who had already won three out of three against us so far this term. Typically of Queen’s, however, even that success would not be enough to ensure we escaped automatic relegation as we also had to rely on Ayr United beating our drop rivals Albion Rovers.
So it was a tall order, but hopes were boosted pre-match with the news that your scribe wouldn’t need to pull on the boots as our centre-half injury crisis had eased somewhat.
That gave Gaffer Gus MacPherson some choices to make, and in the end he decided on a starting line-up of Michael White, Ross Millen, Adam Cummins, Scott Gibson, Sean Burns, Gregor Fotheringham, Anton Brady, Robbie Leitch, Luke Donnelly, David Galt and Aiden Keena.
We had to start well … but never in our wildest dreams did we think we would be ahead within the first minute.
Donnelly did well to win a throw deep into Arbroath territory. It was taken short to Galt who whipped over a cross that should in all honesty have been cleared. It wasn’t, and when it arrived beyond the far post, Leitch took a touch, composed himself – and buried it behind Hutton. The only problem was that there were just 47 seconds played … and that meant there were more than 89 minutes to play.
The first scare of the afternoon came following an Arbroath corner in the 15th minute. The ball rebounded to former Spider Ricky Little who had the chance to shoot, but hooked his effort over the top.
Queen’s won a corner of their own a few minutes later, but Galt’s delivery was dealt with this time by the visitors.
It was edgy already and the nerves were tested after 25 minutes as a McKenna header brought out a decent save from White.
Queen’s went straight back up the park and a lovely wee move ended with Donnelly stroking the ball narrowly wide.
Just after the half hour, Burns did well to intercept a cross field ball and galloped away before releasing Donnelly who worked a crossing opportunity only to see his cutback hit Yule as he slipped to the ground.
The big talking point came after 37 minutes when Galt ran through on goal and rounded Hutton. The keeper brought him down and referee Reid had to point to the spot. He did, but allowed the offender to remain on the park.
Sean Burns hit the spot kick well, but Hutton dived to his right to brilliantly palm the ball over the top. The only good news was that word came through at this point to tell us Ayr were beating Rovers
Queen’s ended the half on top, but that second goal would have made a huge difference.
Still at the halfway stage, the great escape was still on.
Queen’s Park 1 Arbroath 0
Arbroath made a couple of changes at the break, replacing Kader and Denholm with Linn and McIntosh.
If the start to the first half was electric, the start to the second was seismic.
Galt burst down the left and won a corner after 14 seconds. He swung the cross in to the far post where Cummins rose to nod it back into the melting pot. Donnelly reacted quickest, stooping to head the ball beyond Hutton and into the net.
We were just 62 seconds into the second half and the picture was even brighter than the sun which covered the immaculate Hampden surface. (What was a bit strange was that despite the glorious sunshine, the floodlights were on for the entire game).
Queen’s were right on top now bursting forward at every opportunity. They weren’t helped by the eccentric calls being made by whistler Reid who allowed Swankie to escape punishment after a series of fouls.
The visitors made their final change when they brought on O’Brien for Whatley.
Queen’s had the ball in the net again after 60 minutes, but the flag finally went up to rule Keena offside.
The third goal was only slightly delayed, but any wait would have been worth it. Donnelly’s second of the afternoon was a thing of real beauty. The set-up play wasn’t bad either as Galt skinned his man for the umpteenth time and crossed into the middle.
The clearing header was chested down by Luke who was the calmest man in the ground as he waited for it to drop onto his right boot before volleying a lob into the far corner.
it was a goal fit to grace any game and put Queen’s right in charge. The problem was that there was still only one goal in the Ayr game so we couldn’t relax.
As the game entered its last 15 minutes, Gus made his changes. Firstly we saw Dominic Docherty replace Donnelly, who deserved the standing ovation he received as he left he park. Next to go was Aiden Keena who swapped places with Billy Mortimer.
The final change saw Conor McVey come on for the tireless Anton Brady. Seconds after that came possibly the biggest cheer of the afternoon when news came through that Ayr had scored a second against Albion. Stage one of the great escape was now a distinct possibility.
It eventually became reality when Reid blew the final whistle and full time was signalled at Ayr.
So Queen’s have taken a first (huge) step towards securing our League 1 status. Next up is a two-legged semi-final against Stenhousemuir.
No doubt that will be another nerve-shredding affair, but the important thing is that we’re still in there fighting, and still upsetting the odds. Keep the Faith!