Partick Thistle Colts 1 Queen’s Park 1(after extra time)
Queen’s win 6-5 on penalties
It’s fair to say that the jury is still out on the new format of the Irn-Bru Cup as far as many people are concerned. The idea of introducing Premier League Under-20 teams has certainly not met with universal approval, although Queen’s quite enjoyed the experience in Round 1, where we knocked five past the Killie Colts in a thoroughly entertaining evening’s football.
Tonight we made the short journey across Glasgow to Maryhill to take on Partick Thistle’s youngsters, and although the entertainment factor wasn’t quite so high this time around, we finally came out on top to book our place in Round 3.
Gus MacPherson had hinted before kick-off that there would be changes from the team which put our first league points on the board with Saturday’s hard-fought victory at Stenhousemuir.
And the gaffer was certainly true to his word, with no fewer than seven alterations to the starting line-up. The changes started at No1 where Marc Waters came in for his debut against his former club.
The defence was also on unfamiliar lines with Bryan Wharton coming in to join Scott Gibson and Adam Cummins in a back three.
Mark Williams and Craig McLeish were also brought in – to occupy the wingback positions.
Darren Miller occupied a central slot, alongside Liam Brown, while Gregor Fotheringham stepped in to fill the third slot.
The last of the seven changes came up front, where Aidan Malone returned after injury beside Ewan MacPherson, who started his first meaningful game.
Gus had made multiple changes for our last game in this competition, and it would be a mild understatement to say the defence took a wee while to settle that night.
It had to be hoped the gelling process wouldn’t be such a painful one this time around.
There were no 13 second scares, and indeed, little at either end in the opening skirmishes. A Miller freekick for Queen’s saw the offside flag raised in the middle, while the Thistle youngsters showed the energy you would expect, without causing Waters any anxious moments.
That was until the 7th minute when Nisbet was given too much space in the box and the debut keeper had to be sharp to turn his low shot round for a fruitless corner.
The Thistle striker was at it again a minute later – and this time it was only the post that denied him. As warnings go, they couldn’t have been much clearer.
Referee Munro decided to get involved after 10 minutes, booking Lamont for an infringement that wasn’t immediately clear to the watching eye.
The home side were enjoying the bulk of possession, but Brown gave a glimpse of his class when he skipped a couple of challenges and was only inches too firm with his final ball to Malone.
Queen’s won their first corner after 15 minutes, but the short routine failed to pay any dividends.
The Spiders weren’t passing with their usual aplomb, and Miller had our first serious shot in anger after 20 minutes, but keeper Cullen held his effort with ease.
Munro penalised Cummins after 22 minutes when it looked as if the defender had taken a lot of the ball. Waters took the free kick comfortably.
MacPherson led a good break, but was eased off a return from Malone as it began to look promising. And promising just about summed Queen’s up as the half hour approached with us finally showing signs of being comfortable in possession.
Waters had to look alert as Thistle swung in a corner, but the keeper was up to the task – and did even better after 31 minutes to push away a belter from that man Nisbet.
The promise of a few minutes ago was rapidly disappearing.
The young Thistle side earned another corner after 39 minutes, but Cummins headed clear and Gibbie led the charge out. It came to nowt.
Queen’s then enjoyed their best moment of the game as Brown challenged for a loose ball in the box and as it bounced free, MacPherson was desperately unlucky to see his brave header come back off the post.
Thistle responded by going right back up the park and Penrice went close with an angled shot from distance.
The last action of the first period saw MacPherson get a ticking off from Munro when he was late with a challenge on Penrice.
Partick Thistle U20s 0 Queen’s Park o
There were no changes on either side at the break, but Queen’s did start brighter earning a corner in the first minute. It was cleared and Thistle broke with purpose. A deep cross from McInally was headed goalwards by McLaughlin. Waters defied gravity to keep it out, but from the resultant corner, Queen’s played at statues and McMullin had space to lash the loose ball into the roof of the net.
Thistle were now playing with a real swagger and the Spiders would have to dig deep to get back into this one.
The first change of the night came after 52 minutes when Thistle replaced Nisbet with Stokes.
Queen’s threatened after 56 minutes when Brown freed Williams on the right and his near-post cross was glanced inches wide by the head of MacPherson.
Wiliams almost found Malone with a diagonal on the hour mark, but the ball just eluded the striker.
Brown then whipped in a peach of a cross, but found no takers.
A Miller freekick found the head of Malone after 65 minutes, but his effort only found the arms of Cullen.
Gus had seen enough by now and rang the changes with McLeish and Williams making way for Josh Watt and David Galt.
He made his final throw of the dice after 72 minutes, replacing Malone with John Carter.
Gibson did well to block a shot from the rampaging Lamont, and the corner that resulted was punched clear by Waters.
Thistle should have killed the game with 11 minutes left, but McLaughlin tried one trick too many and gave Waters the chance to block his shot.
They might have been young, but the Thistle lads were showing plenty experience as they ran down the clock. Queen’s didn’t help themselves by failing to put pressure on the home side often enough.
Galt was booked for diving as the game entered its dying minutes … just about summing up what was looking like a bad night.
Wharton long throws were looking our best bet now and one gave Watt a glorious chance to repeat his late goal act from Saturday. This time his effort cleared the bar and with three minutes left, we feared the worst.
But the goal was only delayed a matter of seconds as a Miller corner was headed back in by Wharton and finally scrambled over the line by Carter. He looked close to being offside, but nobody in the ranks of the visiting support was worried about that as the prospect of extra time suddenly loomed large.
Another Miller corner deep into injury time provided the last drama of the 90, but sadly not the unlikely winner Queen’s craved and the game finished at 1-1.
Cummins did well to steer an awkward cross behind for a corner after five minutes and Wates completed the job by clutching the cross.
Watt then went close at the other end with a shot from well outside the box. Cullin did well to push it over for a corner, and his defence then cleared Miller’s inswinger.
Half time in extra time and it’s still 1-1.
Thistle had the first chance of the second half, with a free kick that Waters did well to punch clear and as MacPherson broke, he was taken out by Syme who had to see red … And did.
MacPherson was also carded for his reaction, as was Docherty as things threatened to boil over.
Watt was next to suffer a lunging foul, which earned McCarthy a yellow. Typically, Watt was also booked for reacting … punishment fitting crimes and all that?
As the tie entered its final five minutes, the 10 men of Thistle were doing just enough to keep on terms. And Queen’s were toiling to find the killer pass.
Wharton heaved a mighty throw into the box in the dying seconds, but Watt’s volley as the ball fell was blocked.
Partick Thistle 1 Queen’s Park 1
So it was a penalty shoot-out.
First up was McCarthy who beat Waters … Just. Miller then equalised 1-1.
Sub Higgins again sneaked it under Waters before Cummins blasted home. 2-2.
McInally scored with ease and Watt smacked it in off the underside of the bar. 3-3.
Waters dived to save from Docherty but Wharton’s kick smashed off the bar and bounced back. Still 3-3.
It’s now sudden death and McMullin put the home side in the driving seat. MacPherson was calmness personified as he chipped home the equaliser. 4-4.
Wilson stroked home his pen. Brown also scored with ease. 5-5.
Penrice was next up and Waters dived low to deny him. Fotheringham then strode up with the chance to win it … And did – 6-5.
It wasn’t the best performance from the Spiders, but they again displayed a trait that will be very welcome in the months ahead … a stubborn refusal to accept that they are beaten.
Keep the Faith.