Berwick Rangers 0 Queen’s Park 3
Going into today’s game against Berwick, it was almost getting to the stage of being a quiz question (well at least if you’ve got a memory like Gulliver). Who was the last person to score against Queen’s Park?
Since a bad day out in the windy city of Edinburgh, Queen’s had gone five unbeaten, winning three and drawing two of those outings. And the last three matches had seen us keep sheets so clean they wouldn’t have looked out of place leaving a laundry. In fact, you had to go back to the 10th minute of our 4-1 victory against Elgin on March 16 to find the last time Jordan Hart had to pick the ball out of his net. The scorer … Ross McIver.
So it would be fair to say that Queen’s headed across the border with more than a hint of confidence in their step. Our good run actually started with a hard-fought victory at Shielfield Park in a rearranged midweek fixture. The weather that Tuesday was absolutely mingin, with wind driving across the pitch, making the rain feel even worse. Today, by contrast, was positively pleasant. All right, it was a bit chilly, but at least the sun was shining and the wind a mere breeze by comparison to our last visit.
There was a healthy contingent on the supporters’ bus that made the trek south, encouraging when you consider that we’re not going to be involved in the end of season shake-up at either end of the table. But Gaffer Mark Roberts has made it clear that there are places up for grabs for next season … and he’s not in the mood for mediocre performances to round off this campaign.
While Queen’s won’t be in any play-offs, the same can’t be said about the opposition were facing in our final fixtures. Last week we put old foes Albion Rovers to the sword; today Rovers were hoping we could do them a favour by defeating the Berwick side who could condemn Albion to a desperate fight to maintain their league status.
Most in the away support were expecting to see an unchanged team, but overnight illness meant Lewis Magee missed out and his place in the starting Xl went to another graduate of the QP youth academy, Luke Main. His promotion left a spot on the bench for Josh Black, but elsewhere it was as you were.
Given the precarious position Berwick find themselves in, it was perhaps no surprise that the opening exchanges were scrappy. Hart made a routine save from Barr in the game’s first attack, and the opening 20 minutes saw the home side enjoying the bulk of the ball, without laying a serious glove on the Spiders.
And Queen’s then showed them how it should be done in our first menacing attack. David Galt wriggled clear on the left and fired over a peach of a cross. Kieran Moore had already peeled off his marker and was perfectly placed to nod the ball home and put the Spiders 1-0 up.
The goal spurred the Spiders and rattled the Wee Rangers. Moore. Michael Ruth tested keeper Goodfellow, who was up to the task on both occasions.
But there was nothing anybody in black and gold could do about the Hoops’ second goal which arrived just three minutes from the interval. Ruth and Moore led a lightning break on our left and when the ball was fed inside, Galt was first to react. Wilson got there as quick as he could, but was only in time to take out Galt’s trailing leg, leaving referee Steven with the simple task of pointing to the penalty spot.
Scott McLean has been Mr Reliable from 12 yards in recent weeks and he made no mistake with this one as he buried it past Goodfellow to put the Spiders two ahead.
Queen’s now sensed blood, but Moore was a bit over eager from the restart and was booked for catching O’Kane in his desire to regain possession.
That was the only slight downside as the half ended with the somewhat unusual experience for Spiders’ fans of their team being well ahead … without being anywhere near their flowing best.
Berwick Rangers 0 Queen’s Park 2
Whatever the Gaffer said at the interval had the desired effect as Queen’s came out the traps with more urgency than they had shown in the first half. Main dragged a shot wide in our first sortie of the second period before Galt and then Moore were denied in quick succession by last-gasp defending and good goalkeeping.
Unfortunately, the game then lost its shape again as Berwick enjoyed more of the ball, but without showing the cutting edge to trouble Hart. Barr did force the keeper into a routine save with a shot from the right side of the box, and we needed the solid heads of Gerry McLauchlan, Dom McLaren and Scott Gibson when the home side won a number of corners and free-kicks around the hour mark.
Berwick tried to change the position by bringing on See for O’Kane, but still produced little goalmouth action of note. In fact, the only action recorded for a lengthy spell was a series of free-kicks for both sides, none of which required the intervention of the goalkeepers.
Mark made his first change of the afternoon after 72 minutes, bringing on Lewis Hawke for Ruth – who had again produced a performance that bodes well for the future.
Berwick then made a double change, with Ogilvie and Adamson replacing Brown and McIlduff.
Fifteen minutes from time, Queen’s made absolutely certain of the points with a nicely-worked third goal. It began with the tireless Moore chasing down another seemingly lost cause to win a corner on our right. As Summers prepared to take the kick, Galt appeared from nowhere to take a short ball. David then waited for a gap to appear, before slipping a return pass to Ciaran and the wing-back was absolutely delighted as he took a couple of touches and hammered a shot past Goodfellow.
It was a fine finish to complement some quick thinking.
Alan Gow came on for Moore at the restart and the elegant midfielder almost made an immediate impact as he tried to set up Main. His final ball was just a shade behind the youngster, however, and Goodfellow was able to save.
The final note of the afternoon saw Galt being replaced by Steven Bradley.
It was a happy Mark Roberts who was interviewed after the game, particularly when the news filtered through that Stirling Albion – the team one place above the Spiders in the League 2 table – had dropped points at Annan and we were now only two points off fifth place.
For weeks now the Gaffer has been calling on his young charges to keep their concentration and focus on winning games in a bid to move up the table and finish as high as possible. It’s not easy to do that when there are no prizes at stake, but a six-game unbeaten run is not to be sniffed at anytime in the season.
The word used by Mark to sum up our latest victory was “professional”. And while that’s not a term your scribe would normally like to associate with the Spiders, it did describe the performance pretty well. Our mixture of homegrown talent and external recruits did what was asked of them. Long may that continue.
Keep the Faith!
Queen’s Park: Jordan Hart, William Mortimer, Ciaran Summers, Dominic McLaren, Gerry McLauchlan, Scott Gibson, Scott McLean, Luke Main, Michael Ruth, David Galt, Kieran Moore.
Subs: Lewis Hawke, Alan Gow, Euan East, Steven Bradley, James Grant, Josh Black, Kieran McDougall.