Queen’s Park 1 Annan Athletic 2
THE SPIDERS have won just two points from our last five games but, remarkably, we’re still sitting fourth in League Two.
Mind you, looks as we all know can be deceptive. The nine points we have won from a possible 24 put us much nearer the team in tenth and bottom place (namely Stirling Albion on five points) than the side who are currently third top (Cowdenbeath on 18 points).
Our performances generally have been better than our results have indicated and last week’s shot-shy 2-1 defeat at Edinburgh City was a fair example.
Today’s visitors Annan Athletic join Queen’s and Stenhousemuir on nine points, so we are “enjoying” similar campaigns to the Galabankies, although unlike QP they have at least managed to record a home win this season.
Last week, Annan suffered the same fate at Cove Rangers that we endured up north a fortnight ago — a 3-0 defeat — and they share our form of no wins in their last five. So it should be tight.
Coach Mark Roberts had no injury concerns but he still made three changes from last week – Willie Mortimer, Cameron Clark and Scott Gibson dropping to the bench – and went to a back four.
Full-backs James Grant and Ciaran Summers came in to join central pair Creag Little and Nicholas Jamieson in front of keeper Willie Muir; Jack Purdue returned to the midfield alongside Tommy Block, Joffrey Lidouren and David Galt; and Salim Kouider-Alissa and Kieran Moore carried the forward threat.
Annan had former Spiders winger Scott McLean at No7 and for the second week running they fielded a trialist keeper.
Pre-match weather forecasts had predicted rain but it was grey and dry when Annan kicked off defending the away end.
Queen’s started at a cracking pace. Within a minute Purdue had worked his way to the byeline on the left and cut it back, and Summers’ powerful left-foot strike was blocked.
Purdue was having a good start. Galt pulled down a high ball with calm expertise, Moore played on his pass, and Purdue burst onto the ball in the box on the left and saw a shot blocked for a corner.
The encouraging start continued. Galt and Moore combined on the right and Galt’s cross was headed wide by Salim.
Muir was called into action in seven minutes, taking down a long cross, but the bulk of the first 10 minutes was played in Annan’s half. However, the Trialist wasn’t being asked to show his stuff.
But the big Trialist was a spectator in 12 minutes as Queen’s came soooo close to taking the lead. A forward punt was missed by a defender, leaving Moore and the Trialist in a foot race for the loose ball outside the area. Moore won it, but was forced wide, but he turned quickly and fired in a powerful shot only to see Douglas at full stretch head the ball off the line.
But as so often happens with Queen’s, the good start proved a false dawn as Annan scored against the run of play in 16 minutes.
They were fortunate to win a corner on the left, and when the kick came over Muir, behind a ruck of players, seemed to get a fist on the ball but managed only to turn it into his own net.
And it was 2-0 in 21 minutes, with another kamikaze piece of defending by Queen’s, as a throw-in was knocked on into the box and fell at the feet of the totally unmarked Muir, who knocked it past his helpless namesake. Even Homer couldn’t make this up.
McLean was booked for scything down Galt in 35 minutes, and though Queen’s huffed and puffed for the rest of the half, that crazy five-minute spell gave us a half-time mountain to climb.
Half-time: Queen’s Park 0 Annan 2
The half-time tea was subdued, which was hardly surprising, and the least the fans were expecting was a positive reaction from the Spiders.
Darren Barr was booked for a swipe at Purdue in 50 minutes as he tried to halt a Queen’s break, and a minute later Salim headed a great chance over the top from a corner.
Barr didn’t last much longer, taken off to be replaced by Griffiths a couple of minutes later.
Coach Roberts changed it in 62 minutes, sending on Alfie for Purdue, and the big man’s first involvement was a trademark dash down the right and a cross that Salim couldn’t get out from under his feet.
Alfie had certainly livened things up. He exchanged crossfield passes with Salim, and set up Galt for a shot that the big Trialist did well at full stretch to push away. Then the keeper blocked at his near post a fierce drive by Moore.
Grant was replaced by McGrory in 77, but Queen’s day was summed up four minutes later when Moore headed weakly at the keeper from six yards.
Nade limped off a minute later, replaced by McLear, who arrived just in time to see Little head over the top from another great chance.
But Queen’s finally got things right when they scored six minutes from time. Alfie again played a big part, firing in a shot the Trialist for once failed to hold and Galt followed up to stick the ball in the net.
It was almost 2-2 in the final minute. Galt fired over a cross and Douglas, trying to clear, headed the ball against his own bar and over.
Salim then had a penalty claim snubbed, McLear hit the bar at the other end as Queen’s were caught on the break, and the game ended with Queen’s frustratingly on top. All in all, though, a pretty dire 90 minutes, and we’re definitely not fourth top now.
Now we have the international break and then it’s a cup trip to Spartans. Keep the faith.
Queen’s Park: Willie Muir, James Grant, Ciarán Summers, Creag Little, Nicky Jamieson, Tommy Block, Jack Purdue, Salim Kouider-Aissa, David Galt, Joffrey Lidouren, Kieran Moore. Subs: Jacques Herraghty (gk), Billy Mortimer, Luke Main, Scott Gibson, Cameron Clark, Alfredo Agyeman, Calvin McGrory.
Annan Athletic: Trialist, Darren Barr (Assistant Manager), Ayrton Sonkur, Kyle Bradley, Matty Douglas, Jamie Walker, Kyle Wilkie, Scott McLean, Jordan Wooding-Holt, Tommy Muir, Christian Nade. Subs: Niyah Joseph, Jamie Ballantyne, Euan Griffiths, Russell Currie, Harry Emerson, Lewis Mclear.
Referee: David Lowe.