Queen’s Park 0 Ayr United 2
With the supporting cast heading for home after this morning’s warm-up bout on the other side of Glasgow, the spotlight turned to the National Stadium and the day’s BIG match.
Glasgow’s other Hoops may have kept their winning run going, but the question on the lips of everybody in the QP camp was whether the Glorious Hoops could bounce back from last weekend’s slapping at the hands of Raith Rovers.
If we were to record a first home league victory of the season, we’d have to do it the hard way. Last week it was the league leaders we hosted; today we welcomed their nearest challengers – Ayr United.
The Honest Men hadn’t been at their best going into this one, but they had talent aplenty in their ranks and just like Raith, have the benefit of full-time training to iron out any issues.
Gus doesn’t have that luxury, but he does have a willing squad who are proud to play for the jersey. It’s fair to say that squad is still settling in, but there was a familiar look to the team that started, with the one change from last week being the start for Michael Bailey at the expense of Sean Burns.
The team then was: Willie Muir; Ross Millen, Adam Cummins, Jack Iredale, Summers; Gregor Fotheringham, Bailey, Dominic Docherty, David Galt, Anton Brady and Luke Donnelly. Joining Burns on the subs’ bench were Thomas Orr, Chris Duff, Kevin Green, Scott Gibson, Conor McVey and Michael White.
It would be a mild understatement to say that Queen’s had to start better than they did last week, when we were 2-0 down before JohnBoy had finished his second burger.
We did start reasonably well, carving out the first semblance of a chance after 90 seconds when Donnelly tried to set up Brady. The final pass was intercepted and Ayr mounted their first attack.
Fotheringham went into the book after four minutes for a foul on Reid – but at least the scoreboard stayed blank.
It could have been even better seconds later as Bailey provided a great cross that was laid back to Galt who smacked it goalwards. With Hart a spectator, the ball smacked off the post and bounced clear. Surely it wasn’t going to be one of those days?
Former Spider Lawrence Shankland tried to wriggle clear in the box, but was well shackled by Iredale and the first 10 minutes ended without a goal.
Docherty was fortunate to escape a card for a badly timed sliding challenge, and then Iredale and Cummins combined well to snuff out a dangerous break from Moffat.
Queen’s passed up a good opportunity after 13 minutes when a pinpoint cross from Summers found the head of Donnelly. Sadly, his header was way off the mark.
It was all going fine … until the 23rd minute. A ball into the middle found Reid, he found Gilmour and his cross to the back post was nodded home by the giant figure of Adams to make it 1-0. So simple, but so cruel.
The goal hurt the Spiders and Muir had to show safe hands to clutch a powerful shot from distance by McDaid. The keeper did even better as the half hour approached, getting down really well to deny Reid after another clearing header from our defence went astray.
Donnelly went close with a header that was palmed out by Hart, who then reacted brilliantly to stop the follow-up from Docherty.
That break rekindled hope in the home ranks and Galt won a corner after a driving run.The delivery wasn’t great, but as the clearance fell to Summers, he set off on a run that ended with a disappointing shot wide.
The visitors responded quickly, and Cummins first had to clear a wicked cross, before conceding a corner as he slipped trying to get rid of another ball in. The set piece came to nowt and the gap remained at one as we entered the final six minutes of the half.
Docherty led a promising break that was halted illegally by Higgins – after Ayr’s Docherty had also had a foul go to halt the wee man. Both visitors went in the book, but the foul was wasted.
The whistle sounded soon after with Queen’s having enjoyed a lot of possession – created a couple of decent chances – but still went in at half-time losing 1-0.
Neither side made any changes at the break, but Queen’s desperately needed a change in their fortunes.
We almost got it after 46 minutes when a great diagonal released Bailey, and then Docherty drove into the box. But despite getting a couple of good ricochets as he headed for goal, the final one came back off his shin and the visitors cleared from the by-kick.
Eight minutes into the second period, Brady sprinted forward and released Galt inside the box, but for once the deadly right boot didn’t connect properly and Hard gathered easily.
Two minutes later, Galt again broke clear and was decked inside the box. Penalty, and surely a way back to level terms? Hart saved Millen’s spot kick and then denied Donnelly on the rebound. It now looked as if it was going to be another one of “those” days.
That feeling grew seconds later as Docherty tried his luck from distance and was inches away.
Shankland went close as Ayr broke swiftly, but another goal there would have been too cruel even for Queen’s.
Donnelly then tried his luck with a glancing header from a Millen cross before he was replaced by Thomas Orr after 63 minutes.
Shankland showed us how it should be done with another goal that goes down as a bad one to lose after 67 minutes. He was given far too much space to turn and run in on goal before firing a left-foot shot past a helpless Muir.
At 2-0 and with less than a quarter of the game to go, it had definitely become one of those days.
Duff came on for Bailey and Burns replaced Fotheringham, but in truth, the game was as flat as the proverbial now. Ayr were in cruise control, and while the Spiders never gave up the ghost, they seldom troubled Hart.
Galt did earn us a corner after 78 minutes, and his cheeky effort from the flag kick almost sneaked in at the near post. The next one was headed clear after a spot of aerial ping-pong.
Ayr could have increased their lead with 10 to go following a break on the left, but sub McGuffie – who had replaced McDaid – shot wide when Shankland was waiting in the middle for a tap-in.
Rose went into the book with five to go for a dangerous tackle on Brady. Iredale headed home the ball in from the Galt free-kick … but typically of the entire afternoon, the flag then went up for offside.
Burns was next to see yellow, with referee Ross deeming his aerial challenge dangerous.
Inside the last minute, we had another of those moments that summed up the day. Brady’s cross was headed goalwards by Orr. Hart saved brilliantly, but the ball came out to Dominic Docherty. The keeper was flat on his back, but with the goal gaping, Dom saw his effort cleared off the line by Gilmour. Thankfully, it didn’t matter as far as the result was concerned, but chances like those can’t be missed.
It was the last action of another disappointing afternoon for the Spiders. It looks like being a long season … unless we can find a way to convert our chances.
Keep the Faith!