Those brave enough to have followed the Spiders this season will know all too well the highs and lows they put you through and that had been all too evident in the build up to Forfar’s visit to Hampden on Saturday. A fortnight previous Queen’s had gone away from home, kept a clean sheet and took all three points home against East Fife, a performance and result which raised spirits and optimism in the Spiders camp. But, in typical Queen’s style we were brought back down to earth with a bang at Airdrie last weekend, finding ourselves two goals down due to our own doing after only 25 minutes and chasing the game for long spells.
So as The Loons prepared to make the trip to Hampden for what looked to be an old fashioned six pointer, there was a nervousness in the Spiders camp ahead of what would be the biggest game of the season to date.
With both of your normal scribes posted missing in action, it was left to their able/unable deputy (I’ll let you decide) to stand in and provide the match report.
Gaffer Gus MacPherson named one change to the starting XI which had lost at Airdrie the previous week with Ross Millen, returning from suspension, in at the expense of striker Luke Donnelly who dropped to the bench. The line up looked to be a back four of Millen, Nimmo, Cummins and Gibson, with a midfield of Burns, Fotheringham, Brady and Galt with Docherty playing in behind Keena up top.
After a delay of around five minutes, caused by an apparent mix up with kit colours, Keena got the game under way for the Spiders.
There was little by the way of any notable action inside the opening couple of minutes, but the Spiders were to find themselves a goal down with just four minutes on the clock, an all too familiar trait.
Forfar keeper McCallum launched a long ball up the park which wasn’t defended, and this allowed Dale Hilson to beat Michael White with a terrific half volley from the edge of the Queen’s box. Once again, as on so many other occasions this season we had been the masters of our own downfall.
With ten minutes on the clock the Spiders went agonisingly close to a quick equaliser. Millen and Galt were involved in the build up with a decent passing move which allowed Galt to deliver an enticing cross into the back post. Gregor Fotheringham had timed his arrival perfectly but directed his header inches over the bar.
Queen’s won the first of what would be 11 corners, with fourteen minutes on the clock but as was to become a familiar sight, failed to make the most of it with no one getting on the end of Galt’s delivery.
The Spiders looked to be settling and were beginning to put pressure on the visitors. From a corner the ball eventually fell to the feet of Fotheringham in a crowded box but the midfielder saw his effort blocked by a combination of Forfar players. Just seconds later Queen’s were presented with another chance when the ball was squared to Keena on the penalty spot, but the striker swung at it and much to his dismay, missed the ball completely.
The next real chance of the match fell to Spiders defender Daniel Nimmo who got on the end of another decent delivery from Galt but couldn’t direct his header on target. What followed was a very scrappy and uneventful ten-minute period of the game where neither team caused the other any real problems.
With 33 minutes on the clock Mark Millar was first to go into referee Scott Millar’s book for a cynical foul on the lively Galt who had cut in from the right before being upended.
Just a minute later, Queen’s pulled themselves level courtesy of top scorer Adam Cummins. Once again Galt was involved, and it was his delivery that fell perfectly for the big centre back who was never going to miss from six yards out as he directed his header beyond McCallum. It was just rewards for Queen’s who had reacted well to having gone a goal behind so early on.
As play got back underway Queen’s went up the park and almost immediately went ahead. Burns played Galt in down the right, his cross found Docherty in the box whose close-range effort was well saved by Forfar keeper McCallum, the rebound fell to Millen who saw his close-range effort blocked.
With 37 minutes on the clock, Queen’s made their first substitution of the match as Dominic Docherty departing to be replaced by Robbie Leitch. With Docherty having played his part up until that point, you would have to assume it was down to an injury.
A minute later the visitors were also forced into an early substitution. Mark Miller, already on a booking, clattered into Galt in the middle of the park, injuring himself in the process. There was an anxious wait as he received treatment to see whether or not he would be shown a second yellow, but he escaped a second booking and was replaced by Andy Munro.
As the first half drew to a close, Malone was booked for the visitors as Queen’s continued their search for a second. Keena seeing an effort saved by McCallum and another three corners which ultimately came to nothing.
Half time: Queen’s Park 1-1 Forfar Athletic
The opening spell few minutes of the second half saw very little by the way of real action but with 52 minutes on the clock Queen’s attacking play was rewarded. Brady delivered a great ball into the box which was knocked down by Nimmo and Keena was on hand to fire the Spiders ahead with his fourth goal in five games.
The Spiders continued to look lively going forward and won another couple of corners which again came to nothing.
With an hour on the clock Jamie Bain was booked for the visitors after fouling Burns and then arguing with referee Millar. Moments later Forfar brought on Josh Peters to replace Greg Hurst as the looked to get themselves back into the match.
The visitors were beginning to ask questions of the Queen’s backline and there were a couple of anxious moments as Dylan Easton and Mathew Aitken put dangerous balls into the Spiders box but with 73 minutes on the clock they were reduced to 10. Robbie Leitch found Fotheringham just inside the Queen’s half and the midfielder set off on a long charge forward. As head reached the edge of the Forfar box Keena took the ball and turned Eddie Malone, the defender, already on a booking, upended the striker leaving referee Millar with no option but to book him for a second time and give him his marching orders.
Unfortunately for Queen’s, the red card looked to have sparked the visitors to life and just over two minutes later The Loons were level. Cummins conceded a free kick around 25 yards from goal and Dylan Easton made the most of the opportunity, curling the free kick over the wall and beyond Michael White in the Spiders goal.
Ciaran Summers replaced Scott Gibson almost immediately afterwards but it Forfar who remained on the front foot and could have been ahead had it not been for a great save from White who denied Aitken on two occasions from close range.
Queen’s made their third and final substitution with ten minutes remaining as man of the match Anton Brady departed to be replaced by on loan Hibs winger Jamie Gullan.
The final ten minutes saw Mathew Aitken booked for the visitors and Michael Travis come on to replace goal scorer Dylan Easton before Forfar went close to a winner deep into stoppage time. Queen’s had Michael White to thank yet again as he denied Mathew Aitken.
Full time: Queen’s Park 2-2 Forfar Athletic
Queen’s Park starting XI: Michael White, Ross Millen, Sean Burns, Daniel Nimmo, Adam Cummins, Scott Gibson (76), Gregor Fotheringham, Anton Brady (81), Aidan Keena, Dominic Docherty (37) and David Galt.
Substitutes: Luke Donnelly, Robbie Leitch (37), Jamie Gullan (81), Ciaran Summers (76), Billy Mortimer, Thomas Orr and Lewis Magee.
Forfar Athletic starting XI: Marc McCallum, Jamie Bain, Murray Macintosh, Eddie Malone, Darren Whyte, Mark Millar (39), Greg Hurst (63), Russell Dingwall, Dale Hilson, Dylan Easton (89) and Mathew Aitken.
Substitutes: Scott McBride, Ross Maciver, Josh Peters (63), Kevin McNaughton, Michael Travis (89), Andy Munro (39) and Grant Adam.
Referee: Scott Millar