Queen’s Park 1 Stenhousemuir 1
WELCOME to our first game of the season at Hampden Park — and please stand with Homer and Gulliver in a moment’s silence to mark the last time in 152 years we’ll kick-off a full season at our world-famous old lady.
Our forced eviction from the National Stadium will herald huge and historic changes for QPFC. Beardie (aka Keith McAllister) has summarised the depressing facts elsewhere on the QP website, so Homer will dry his eyes, holster his pistol, and restrict himself to reporting on today’s on-field action.
Our early-season Betfred Cup exploits suggested head coach Mark Roberts has unearthed yet another capable squad — with a few more potential gems among them — and the gritty win at Stirling Albion last week did nothing to damage that view.
It was the perfect start to our League Two campaign (the midweek defeat to the Bhoy Babes can be dismissed as a Tunnocks Caramel Wafer distraction from the real job at hand), our sixth match on the road after four ‘home’ games at Airdrie as Hampden was being titivated.
For the visit of Stenhousemuir, there was a blow when Alfie Agyeman — already looking every inch a fans’ favourite — failed a late fitness on the damage caused by a rash tackle that saw Stirling’s Ross McGeachie sent off last week.
But the starting X1 remained the same from the Stirling game, with only the bench showing changes as Cameron Clark, Reagan Thomson and Adam Martin came in.
Stenny, who suffered a 3-2 loss at home to Albion Rovers last week, had former Spider Janie McKernon on the bench.
Considering the recent monsoon conditions we have endured, the weather was almost seasonal at kick-off. But give it a minute. And, as you’d expect, the pitch was a picture. But give it 90 minutes.
Stenny striker Mark McGuigan struck the first ball of the season at Hampden, taking the kick-off as the visitors defended the away end.
Stenny played keep-ball for the first three minutes, but it was Queen’s who took the direct route and struck first. Galt won a good tackle in the centre circle to release Joffrey, he showed a good turn of pace to get clear on the left and make a return pass to the overlapping Galt, and the skipper blasted a shot just over.
And in between that action, we had our first brief shower! As I say, seasonal.
Joffrey showed footwork on the main stand touchline that would have extricated him from a phone box. The ball was quickly shipped forward to Summers via Purdie’s nice pass, and when the full-back set up Block for a shot he whacked it well wide.
Queen’s were looking dangerous on the break and more good work from Joffrey on 16 minutes ended with Galt getting a clear run and a shot that was blocked.
Queen’s were knocking on the door, and in quick succession we had shots blocked in the box from Salim and Galtie.
Another nice move in 22 minutes, with Purdue and Summers combining on the left and Salim being blocked in the box as he tried to connect with the left back’s pass.
Stenny had been kept very quiet so far in an attacking sense, but Magee’s way short passback put Muir under pressure. The keeper’s hurried clearance only made the edge of the box and it took a good block by Summers to deny Hopkirk a clear shot at goal.
A magnificent run by Galt in 38 minutes, started by a nutmeg on the left touchline and taking him past three more defenders, took him into the box and to the byeline, but his cutback was cleared.
On chances, Queen’s should have been ahead. Summers’ corner from the right was missed by Jamieson and Little, right behind him, headed the ball down into the turf and it bounced over the bar.
And a minute later, Stenny keeper Smith was six yards off his line when he rose high to beat away a powerful shot from Summers.
McGuigan was booked in 43 minutes for hacking down Joffrey.
Half-time: Queen’s Park 0 Stenhousemuir 0
With Queen’s so much on top, it was typical that Stenny should score in the most bizarre fashion just two minutes in.
Little missed a pass across the area to leave Scullion with a clear shot on goal, but he screwed his effort well wide, only for the ball to deflect off Hopkirk at the far post and beat the helpless Muir. So very QP.
Queen’s got back on the attack and good interchange between Galt, Joffrey and Purdue was halted by Scullion booting clear in the box for a corner.
Another good attack produced a foul on Galt right on the edge of the area D. The skipper’s powerful free kick was blocked by the wall, Summers slung it back into the crowded area, and Joffrey and Salim had chances blocked.
Young Reagan Thomson then replaced Purdue as Mark Roberts changed it just after the hour.
Queen’s were still looking more likely to score. Joffrey slung over a wicked free kick that was bundled towards goal by an unidentified Spider and cleared off the line, then the wee French ace whipped in a curving shot that Smith at full stretch finger tipped over the bar. There was only one team in this game – 15 shots to 5 – and we were losing 1-0!
After 73 minutes, Mark Roberts changed it again, replacing defender Lewis Magee with front man Kieran Moore.
And Stenny introduced ex-Spider McKernon for Dykes.
Five minutes later, and after Little was booked for a foul on Hopkirk, Clark was sent on for Summers.
Five minutes from time, and with the game now reduced by Stenny to a stop-start spectacle, Jamieson was booked for a foul.
The ref wasn’t having the best day, either, with inconsistent decisions and advantage calls, and he took exception to a Mark Roberts comment on his performance and flashed a yellow card at the coach.
Mark Munro, for yet more Stenny time wasting, and Hopkirk and Lidouren for handbags were the final bookings – but not the final action.
In a dramatic added time, keeper Smith downed Moore on the edge of the box (no booking, Mr Duncan?) and Salim rammed the penalty behind the errant stopper.
A draw was less than we deserved, but we’ll take it. It’s going to be a long season.
Keep the Faith.
Queen’s Park: Willie Muir, Billy Mortimer, Ciarán Summers, Creag Little, Lewis Magee, Nicky Jamieson, Tommy Block, Jack Purdue, Joffrey Lidouren, David Galt, Salim Kouider-Aissa. Subs: Jacques Herraghty (gk), Scott Gibson, Adam Martin, Cameron Clark, Kieran Moore, Luke Main, Reagan Thomson.
Stenhousemuir: Graeme Smith, Scott McLaughlin, Alan Munro, David Marsh, Aidan McIlduff, Markus Munro, Liam Scullion, Dillon Dykes, Alan Cook, David Hopkirk, Mark McGuigan. Subs: Kieran Gibbons, Chris O’Neill, fThomas Halleran, Jamie McKernon, Ryan Watters, Kyle Marley (gk), Kieran Anderson.
Referee: Gavin Duncan.