Livingston 4 Queen’s Park 0
Queen’s travelled to Livingston today knowing that victories in their final three outings of this ridiculous season would propel them to the promotion play-offs.
The downside was – because this league is so tight – that a run of bad results would send us plummeting down towards the wrong end of the table.
And to put the whole thing in perspective, today we faced the runaway league champions … and our final game of the season sees us travel to our one-time home in Airdrie where our record is bordering on the abysmal.
But why let reality get in the way of a good dream? After all, Gus MacPherson’s men have already surprised everybody with their performances this season, and before today’s contest got under way, had taken seven points from a possible nine against Livingston.
That record was likely to spur our hosts on as they looked to continue their great run of form. But the Spiders had cause for cautious optimism themselves as they were unbeaten in their last eight games, and had won their last two outings without conceding.
The Gaffer also had the luxury of not having to deal with any fresh injury concerns, so it was no surprise that the team had a familiar look about it as the players emerged into bright sunshine.
There was only one change from last week – Conor McVey coming in for Ewan MacPherson.
And Queen’s certainly started as if they meant to keep their great unbeaten run going. Four minutes in, Foy headed wide from a good ball in, then McGeever brought a great save out of keeper Maley with a powerful header.
Livi had their first moment of the game when Crighton headed wide from a good chance of his own. But Queen’s then came so close to taking the lead after 10 minutes when Foy got in a header that beat Maley all ends up, but Mullin popped up on the line to head clear.
It was all Queen’s at this stage and Brady brought the first controversial decision from the officials when he let fly from distance. You all know Gulliver would never criticise any official, but most inside the ground thought the shot was blocked by a defender’s arm. Referee Irvine didn’t see anything amiss, while his assistant McMullan saw nothing wrong from her position several yards behind the play.
After 15 minutes, Irvine was again at the heart of the action. Mitchell went down after another crunching tackle, but rather than allow Andy Harrison on to treat him, the whistler suggested the injured defender should crawl to the nearby touchline for attention.
Tempers were fraying on the QP bench at this stage, and they didn’t get any calmer when the Gaffer was sent to the stand for making his views known.
Gus probably hadn’t even reached a seat before his team were a goal down. A long punt tempted Muir off his line, but Todorov poked out a long leg before the keeper got there and then rolled the ball into the empty net.
Queen’s were not surprisingly scunnered by the goal and took a while to get back into their stride. The good news was that they didn’t suffer any further damage.
Having weathered the storm, they again came close just after the half hour when Zanatta scuffed a shot that bounced up off the surface and agonisingly bounced to safety off the woodwork.
That was the last real chance of the first period although the officials continued to stoke the fires of injustice in the ranks or the visiting support, who felt they were giving the home side the benefit of the doubt with the 50-50 decisions.
Livingston 1 Queen’s Park 0
The Spiders had the first chance of the second period when the ball broke to Mitchell on the right. His shot was on target – but Maley again responded well to turn it behind for a corner. Worse was to come as Gavin crumpled to the ground and clearly his afternoon was over.
What wasn’t quite so predictable was that Gus decided to make a double change; replacing Gavin with Aiden McIlduff, and also bringing on Ewan MacPherson for Cameron Foy.
It was a gamble designed to get Queen’s back on terms, and there was precious little between the teams as the half progressed.
Livi picked up a couple of cards for fouls on Brady and Zanatta, while McGeever could count himself unlucky for seeing yellow after a challenge on Mullen.
After 68 minutes, Gus threw on Orsi for Burns. But before the sub was even warmed up, Livi had doubled their lead. McGeever failed to deal properly with a high ball and when it bounced to Mullen, he hooked it over his head and into the net.
The less said about the last 20 minutes the better. Livi were ruthless as they picked Queen’s off another twice, through Mullin and Cadden, although the final goal looked to be scored from an offside position.
The 4-0 score line was harsh in the extreme, but the good news is that Queen’s are still in the mix for the promotion play-offs.
We are back at HQ next week when we will face a very different challenge against a Stenhousemuir side fighting for their lives.
It could still end up up one of the truly great seasons … but even if the dream doesn’t come true, then it’s been a good one as was demonstrated by the defiant chants of “We are staying up” from the Spiders fans.
Keep the Faith.