As season openers go, they don’t come much tougher for the Spiders than an away trip to Arbroath, something which was reinforced by the manager in the build up to today’s game. The stage was set for what we hoped would be an enjoyable afternoon of football, the sun was shining and the Gayfield playing surface was immaculate, there were however some things missing. One of those was the usual Gayfield gale, and the other were your usual scribes. With Gulliver not on his travels and Homer missing in action your stand in scribe was left with big boots to fill with today’s match report.
With a week and half having passed since our last competitive match there was anticipation in the build up to see how the manager would line his team up and there were to be three changes to the starting XI that beat Berwick Rangers 3-2 in the last outing. Out went Michael Bailey, David Green and Ewan MacPherson and in came Adam Cummins, Sean Burns and Conor McVey.
The line-up then was Willie Muir, a central defence of Wharton, Kevin Green and Adam Cummins, with Ross Millen and Sean Burns in the wingback roles. Conor McVey, Dominic Docherty and Anton Brady occupied the midfield, with David Galt supporting Thomas Orr up front.
It was the home side who got the proceedings underway and they wasted no time in pressing forward. They won a free kick inside the opening minute after Docherty fouled Kader 25 yards from goal. Denholm stepped up and much to the delight of the travelling Spiders fans, curled the free kick wide.
The opening minutes proved to be a scrappy affair and it wasn’t until the seventh minute that Queen’s made their first venture forward. Orr took possession midway inside the Arbroath half and immediately looked to advance towards the home side’s box, he did well to shrug off a couple of niggling tackles before referee Gavin Duncan eventually awarded the free kick 30 yards out. Docherty took a quick free kick, however his quick thinking wasn’t matched by his teammates and the attack ended with Arbroath taking possession.
Just moments later at the other end Arbroath had two chances inside a minute to take the lead. From their first corner of the match Doris saw a goalbound head blocked by Wharton before ex-Spider Ricky Little saw his 25-yard effort go just inches wide. The warning signs were there.
In the 10 minutes that followed both teams continued to struggle to get a foothold in the game with Queen’s resorting to long balls from the back, looking to find Orr and Galt in attack but without much success, and the 20-minute mark passed with neither keeper having been called into action.
It was on the 23rd minute that the home side had their first effort on target, the lively Kader cut in from the right and fired a powerful shot on target, thankfully for Queen’s it was straight down the middle and into the arms of Muir.
Five minutes later the Spiders had their first effort on target, Brady collected the ball inside his own half and went on a run which saw him beat two men before getting a shot away. But it proved a relatively easy take for Arbroath keeper Hutton. Wee Anton had other options, with Galt and Orr both looking for the pass, but it would be harsh to criticise him for taking it on himself after his hard work in the build-up.
Queen’s were given another warning when in the 33rd minute Doris had the best chance of the game. Having been played in by Kader, the striker fired a low effort just the wrong side of Muir’s left-hand post. It showed again that the home posed a real threat in attack and just minutes later they made that threat count.
With 37 minutes on the clock Hamilton knocked a high ball into the Spiders box. Denholm took a swipe on the turn, making contact but not getting the shot away. Unfortunately it was Denholm who was quickest to react to his own missed effort and he knocked it past Muir from close range to put the home side ahead.
As the clock ticked towards half time the home side looked for a second goal to put distance between the teams but in doing so they never troubled Muir during the remainder of the first half.
Half time: Arbroath 1 – 0 Queen’s Park
With no changes at the break it was Thomas Orr who got the second half underway but just like the first half, it was the home side who went straight on the attack inside the first minute. Fortunately for the Spiders Denholm was judged to have been offside. Less than a minute later another Arbroath attack ended, this time Linn being flagged offside.
The Red Lichties continued their search for a second goal and had chances through Denholm, who saw a low effort saved by Muir and then Doris who headed wide after getting on the end of a Bobby Linn cross.
Just before the hour mark Queen’s had Bryan Wharton to thank for a last gasp intervention. Arbroath keeper Hutton put a long ball down the middle which was bouncing into the path of Doris on the edge of the Spiders box, Wharton timed his intervention perfectly and denied the striker the chance to go one-on-one with Muir. From the resulting corner, it was Doris again in the thick of the action, this time seeing his header go wide.
At the other end, as the Spiders continued their hunt for an equaliser, the first substitution of the match was made, with Adam Cummins making way for Christopher Duff. However before the substitute had any chance to get involved in the game the home side doubled their lead.
Doris got the better of Millen on the right and the striker raced forward, fired in a low cross which fell perfectly for Blair Yule who found the back of the net with a powerful effort from 10 yards.
The home side took a huge amount of confidence from the second goal and with the Spiders looking somewhat out of sorts, immediately went in search of a third and both Linn and Kader missed chances.
With 20 minutes to go the home side replaced Bobby Linn with Josh Skelly and a double substitution saw Conor McVey and Thomas Orr depart for the Spiders, to be replaced by David Green and Ewan MacPherson.
It wasn’t long before young MacPherson was involved in the action, unfortunately for him there were no takers to get on the end of his low ball into the Arbroath six yard box after good play had got him to the by-line.
As the game entered the final stages Burns picked up a booking for a poor foul on Kader and at the same time Arbroath replaced Mark Whatley with Ryan McCord.
On the 78th minute the home side went close to scoring a third. Kevin Green was forced into conceding a corner after heading a Skelly cross clear. From the resulting corner Ricky Little saw a header tipped over from Muir who scrambled to make the save.
With 10 minutes to go the home side were forced into making their final substitution of the match. Doris went down injured on the far side, and dragged himself off the pitch without waiting for the physio. Bryan Prunty came on to replace Doris.
The final 10 minutes of the match saw the Spiders create a number of chances as David Green, David Galt and Dominic Docherty went close but ultimately the home side were out of reach by this point and were able to see the game out with relative ease.
Full time: Arbroath 2-0 Queen’s Park
Queen’s Park: Muir, Millen, Cummins (Duff 61), Wharton, K. Green, McVey (D. Green 70), Galt, Docherty, Orr (MacPherson 70), Brady and Burns.
Unused substitutes: Bailey, Mortimer, Whelan and White.
Arbroath: Hutton, Gold, Hamilton, Little, O’Brien, Yule, Kader, Whatley (McCord 76), Doris (Prunty 81), Linn (Skelly 69) and Denholm.
Unused substitutes: Swankie, Hester, Henry and Gomes.