Football being the daft game that it is, it’s easy to get carried away when things are going well … or to get far too low when results go against your team.
That said, it’s almost impossible to overstate the transformation that has taken place within the ranks of Scotland’s oldest senior football club in the last three months.
Just for a moment ignore the changes off the field and focus on the football. As autumn turned to winter, we were looking anxiously over our shoulders to see what teams below us were doing. The focus was all about staying away from the dreaded relegation trap door.
Fast forward to the end of February and a look at the table reveals that victory over Annan has propelled us into third place in the league with a place in the promotion play-offs looking ever more likely.
It’s an incredible turnaround, and one that even folk as old as Homer and his sidekick Gulliver – who have been on a few rollercoaster rides with the Spiders over the years – find difficult to comprehend.
You get used to Queen’s doing the unexpected, but these new Spiders seem to be revelling in making a habit of winning games. True, there had been a wee stutter with defeat at Cove and the draw at Brechin, but they still welcomed Annan to Hampden with hopes high of recording a first win of the season against the Galabankies.
Nicky Jamieson was fit enough to earn a place on the bench, but the only change Gaffer Ray McKinnon made to his starting line-up was to bring in Ross MacLean for Kieran Moore.
The miserable weather that has blighted us this year had taken its toll on the Hampden surface, but although the pitch was threadbare in places, the surface still encouraged players to get the ball down and use it.
Queen’s tried to do that in the early stages, but the game’s first real chance went to the visitors – and it was oh so simple. A long throw was heaved into the box, nodded on – and Flanagan was only inches too high with his acrobatic volley.
Normal service resumed after that scare, with the Spiders enjoying large chunks of possession … but neither side producing anything to get the scribes working.
That was, until the 19th minute when another simple move produced the opening goal. Grant launched a long ball deep into Annan territory; Swinglehurst misjudged the bounce – and MacLean suddenly found himself clear, with only Mitchell to beat. He did that with ease and Queen’s were one up with just under 20 minutes on the clock.
Buoyed by the goal, Galt was next to try his luck. The skipper weaved his way down the left, cut inside and was not too far away with a curling effort.
The good start got even better with 27 minutes on the clock and again it was a mixture of patient play and a simple long ball that brought about the desired result. Morrison, Grant and Muir knocked the ball between them at the back until Morrison spotted a run into space by Galt. Stuart delivered the perfect pass which Galtie took in his stride and waltzed past a helpless Annan defence. Keeper Mitchell ended the run the only way he could – by decking Galt – and the resultant penalty was clamly dispatched by Salim to make the score 2-0.
Queen’s were well on top now and could have added to their lead just after the half hour. Galt was again involved, carving out space to cut the ball back to Slater. Craig worked the shooting opportunity, but was denied by Mitchell who blocked his low drive with his legs.
Annan boss Peter Murphy had seen enough by now and with only 34 minutes gone, made his first change of the afternoon, replacing Joseph with Bradley.
Sadly, the rest of the opening half became as dreich as the weather, with the Spiders comfortable in the lead and the visitors incapable of breaching a well organised defence.
Queen’s Park 2 Annan Athletic 0
Queen’s made a change at the break, bringing on Kieran Moore in place of Slater.
It was Annan who created the first chance of the second period, with a carbon copy of the opening half. A long throw, a head flick … and a Flanagan shot. Again it was close, but this time it whistled past the post.
Queen’s responded with MacLean seeing an effort blocked from a promising position, before the game settled into a similar pattern to the first half. Queen’s were comfy, without creating too much – while Annan were not allowed to create anything to trouble Muir.
Both benches tried to liven things up with personnel changes. Annan brought on former Spider Scott McLean in place of Flanagan and then replaced Docherty with Christian Nade. For their part, Queen’s brought on Joffrey Lidouren for MacLean.
None of the changes sparked the game into life. Muir did have to make a routine save when McLear fired off an effort and then Galt found room to get a shot away, but it suffered the same fate and never troubled Mitchell.
Watson went into the book for a foul on Galt as the game meandered to a close, but there was to be one more moment of fine football from the Spiders before the end. Grant won a header deep in his own half and Galt then played a simple ball back to Doig. The youngster found Salim, who gave Lidouren the chance top stride forward with the ball. Joffrey played in Moore and when Kieran knocked the ball wide to the edge of the box, Finnie ran on and smacked a sweet shot goalwards. Mitchell had to be at his very best to dive low to his right and divert the ball up and over the bar to safety.
The corner came to nothing … as did all other efforts in what remained of the 90 minutes and if we’re being honest, it was probably something of a relief when referee Reid brought proceedings to a close.
It wasn’t the best game of football we’ve seen this season, but let’s reflect on the good things. We won, the first time we’ve done that against Annan in almost five years.
We’re third in the league, and in control of our own destiny as far as the promotion play-offs are concerned.
We kept our fourth clean sheet in the six games we’ve played in February, and took 13 points from a possible 18 in the month, with our only defeat coming at the home of runaway league leaders Cove.
That’s not a bad record in anybody’s book. Next up are couple of a trips, firstly to Stenny and then to Coatbridge. Can we keep this great run going? Who knows, but it’s going to be fun to find out the answer.
Queen’s Park: Willie Muir, Ryan Finnie, Josh Doig, Stuart Morrison, Peter Grant, Jake Davidson, Adam King (Luke Main, 86) Craig Slater (Kieran Moore 46), Salim Kouider-Aïssa, David Galt and Ross MacLean (Joffrey Lidouren 62).
Substitutes: James Grant, Kieran Moore, Creag Little, Joffrey Lidouren, Nicky Jamieson, Luke Main and Cammy Bell.