Queen’s made the 185-mile trip from Hampden to Balmoor in hope, rather than expectation, of taking something from a game which gaffer Mark Roberts had described as one of the most difficult of the season. Spiders fans will be all too aware that this is a ground which has not been overly kind to Queen’s over the years but nonetheless we headed to Balmoor optimistic that we could add to the four points we had taken from our two earlier encounters this season.
With Gulliver missing in action it was up to your stand in scribe to attempt to fill the gap.
The early signs indicated that we might be in for a decent game of football with the pitch looking to be in great condition, the sun shining in the almost clear blue sky and a distinct lack of wind; yes, this really was Peterhead in Winter.
It was no great shock that for the third match running Mark Roberts named an unchanged starting XI meaning that Scott Gibson and Gerry McLauchlan were once again our only recognised defenders, and Jamie McKernon was the man in the middle of the back three. The bench was unchanged too.
The home side got the proceedings underway but not before Scott Gibson had won the toss and opted to swap ends. There wasn’t even a full minute on the clock when Queen’s registered their first attempted of the game, Kurtis Roberts finding space 25 yards out but firing a low effort just wide of the target.
Less than two minutes later though the home side took the lead; Shane Sutherland burst into the Queen’s box to get on the end of a long diagonal ball, controlling with his left foot before poking it past Jordan Hart with his right foot. It was all far to easy from a Spiders perspective and we had given ourselves a mountain to climb.
Sutherland, having got his first goal since returning to Balmoor from Elgin last month, was thirsty for more and Queen’s had Jordan Hart to thank for some quick thinking in the sixth minute as he raced off his line to clear the danger as Sutherland again looked to get on the end of a through ball.
With ten minutes on the clock Queen’s won the first corner of the game, there were claims for a penalty from the travelling Spiders support as Galt went down in the box but it would have been a soft one, and we settled for the corner. Galt’s delivery eventually fell to the feet of Kurtis Roberts in a crowded penalty box, his half volley appeared to come of the arm of a Peterhead player; it was a stronger claim this time but once again referee Napier wasn’t interested.
The Blue Toon almost doubled their lead just a couple of minutes later; Hart did well to get a hand on a dangerous delivery from Boyle but the ball fell to Leitch who attempted an overhead kick, the effort bouncing just inches wide.
The early goal seemed to have taken the wind out of Queen’s who huffed and puffed their way through the first 25 minutes, struggling to enjoy any real period of sustained possession or hold the ball up in the Peterhead half. Gow and Mortimer both had chances, but neither were able to trouble Fleming in the Peterhead goal.
With 26 minutes on the clock the home side again went close to doubling their lead as veteran striker Derek Lyle rose highest in the box to get on the end of Ryan Dow’s corner but he saw his header go just wide of Hart’s right hand post.
The final 15 minutes of the first half saw Queen’s create a number of opportunities through free kick’s and corners in and around the Peterhead box but ultimately failing to cause Peterhead keeper Fleming any real trouble.
Half time: Peterhead 1 Queen’s Park 0
Jim McInally made his first substitution at the break as the experienced Willie Gibson replaced Jack Leitch. It was to prove a match winning substitution but not before Queen’s had given the travelling support some hope.
Galt and Roberts had linked up well on the left to win the corner with four minutes of the second half on the clock. McKernon’s delivery was punched clear by Fleming, falling to McGrory on the edge of the box., the midfielder’s effort was knocked home by captain Scott Gibson from just a few yards out. It was as scrappy a goal as you’re likely to see but that didn’t bother anyone, we were back in the game.
The home side looked unphased though and went in search of a second almost immediately. Sutherland and McAllister linked up well before the latter attempt to lob Hart but the keeper was equal to the effort.
Just three minutes later though, with 55 minutes on the clock, the second did come for Peterhead. Ryan Dow’s corner was partially cleared, but only as far as the edge of the box and where substitutive Willie Gibson was waiting, he duly dispatched a low volley through the crowded box into beyond Hart to restore the Blue Toon’s lead.
Mark Roberts made his first substitution just before the hour mark as Ciaran Summers was introduced to replace Billy Mortimer on the left.
As the clock hit the hour mark Queen’s could have drawn themselves level. Good work from Galt on the left allowed him the space to whip an enticing ball across the Peterhead six yard line, Lewis Hawke did all that he could to get on the end of it but it was inches out of reach for the striker.
Queen’s continued to probe for a second equaliser and won a couple of corners in quick succession in the 66th minute, unfortunately failing to create any clear-cut chance from either set piece.
Paul Willis was brought on to replace Derek Lyle for the home side just before the 70-minute mark.
Calvin McGrory saw yellow for a poorly time challenge on Jamie Stevenson just inside the Queen’s half and just a couple of minutes later Rory McAllister followed the youngster into Craig Napier’s book having gone down in the box under little to no pressure.
As the game went into the final 15 minutes Peterhead almost doubled their lead. The home side’s second corner in a row eventually fell to the feet of Paul Willis who saw his effort blocked, Jason Brown was quickest to react, and Queen’s has Scott McLean to thank for being on hand to clear Brown’s effort of the line.
Roberts chose to replaced experience with youth as Alan Gow made way for Kieran Moore with ten to go. Jim McInally making his final substitution just a minute later as Rory McAllister departed to be replaced by Callum Home.
Frustratingly for Queen’s the final ten minutes petered out with little by the way of any real chances being created and it was to end in defeat.
Full time: Peterhead 2 Queen’s Park 1
Peterhead: Greg Fleming; Jason Brown; Patrick Boyle; Michael Dunlop; Jamie Stevenson; Scott Brown; Jack Leitch (Willie Gibson 45’), Ryan Dow, Shan Sutherland, Rory McAllister (Callum Home 82’) and Derek Lyle (Paul Willis 68’).
Unused substitutes: Cameron Eadie, Simon Ferry, Ross Willox and Sam Henderson.
Queen’s Park: Jordan Hart, Gerry McLauchlan, Jamie McKernon, Scott Gibson, Billy Mortimer (Ciaran Summers 59’), Calvin McGrory, Kurtis Roberts, Scott McLean, David Galt, Lewis Hawke and Alan Gow (Kieran Moore 81’)
Unused substitutes: Euan East, Josh Peters, Dom McLaren, James Grant and Kieran McDougall.
Referee: Craig Napier