Queen’s Park 2 Montrose 0

Any other year, if Queen’s were playing their ninth cup tie of  the season, chances are they would be in the final stages of at least one knock-out contest … but not this time.

The new format of the League Cup, and a decent run to the last 16 of the Irn-Bru competition, means that our first outing in this season’s Scottish Cup is indeed our ninth knockout tie, and we’re not even out of November yet.

The game was switched to midweek under the lights because Hampden was otherwise occupied at the weekend. However, Gulliver is happy to report that the playing surface looked in reasonable shape as the players warmed up under the lights.

Our opponents, Montrose, went into the game too close to the bottom of League 2 for their comfort, but they did record a decent result last time out; drawing  1-1 at home against local rivals Forfar.

For their part, Queen’s were buoyed by a run of three games unbeaten since losing to Stenhousemuir – a response described as “fantastic” by Gaffer Gus MacPherson.

There was again a familiar look to the Spiders’ starting XI, with John Carter in for Dario Zanatta, and David Galt starting in place of  Gregor Fotheringham, the only changes from the victorious team at Fife last time out.

Burns had an early cross cleared before the visitors broke and won the first foul of the night after five minutes, just outside the corner of our box. Webster fired in a curler, but only found the side net.

The visitors then won a corner on the right, but it was easily nodded away.

Queen’s were struggling to get their passing going as the 10-minute mark came and went, while Montrose looked as if they were enjoying their evening out at the National Stadium.

Galt showed nice skills after 12 minutes as the Spiders won their first corner of the night. However, Jamie McKernon’s delivery failed to pass the first man and the chance was lost.

Ryan McGeever was next to shine, dropping a shoulder in midfield and going on a wee run before releasing Burns on the left. The cross was blocked for another corner, and this time Jamie got the delivery right. McGeever’s header was kept in by Paul Woods and he teed up Galt. David needed no second invitation to belt the ball low past Fleming and put us 1-0 ahead with 15 minutes on the clock. (Footnote to the McGeever run … as he went past the first man, the diminutive Masson tried to barge Ryan off the ball. No prizes for guessing who came off second best!)

The goal settled the Spiders and we began to control possession, without threatening too much – until the 25th minute when McKernon whipped in a great free-kick that was only inches away from any number of blue shirts. Sadly, it found the green shirt of keeper Fleming.

McKernon gave Fleming a scare after 30 minutes when he carved out a nice opening for himself. The midfielder didn’t catch his shot quite right, but it was close enough to the far post to make life uneasy for the visiting keeper.

Three minutes later, it was Carter and Woods exchanging passes before Paul fired in a shot that Fleming did well to parry behind for a corner. As the cross was nodded out, it fell neatly for Anton Brady, but his well struck volley was straight down the keeper’s midriff and he held it well.

The visitors had produced little by way of goal threat, but almost grabbed one out of nothing after 39 minutes when Court got to a cross just in front of Muir. Thankfully, his header looped over the bar and we all breathed easily again.

As the interval approached, Galt tried a curler from distance, but got his angles just off and the ball sailed past the far post. Brady then got a chance to try his luck from distance, but his effort cleared the bar with a fair bit to spare.

Half-time
Queen’s Park 1 Montrose 0

Neither side made any changes at the break, and the half opened much the same as the first period, with the visitors looking the livelier.

Webster had a decent chance after 48 minutes, but could only scoop the ball up and away from the goal. It was, however, a warning that this tie was far from over … especially if Queen’s had their sleepy heads on.

There was another worrying sign after 50 minutes, when the giant frame of Chris Templeman replaced Jonny Court. The fear was that would lead to an aerial bombardment; the hope was we could grab a killer second goal and regain some measure of control.

Thankfully, it was the latter option that transpired after 54 minutes. There seemed little danger when Woods picked the ball up around the halfway line. His neat turn made things interesting, and as he romped upfield, it got very interesting. Carter split the defence one way, Galt took the rest the other … and Paul went on his merry way. When he finally reached the opposing box, he still had the energy to fire off a powerful shot that Fleming got hands to, but couldn’t keep out. At 2-0, it was a lot better for the home fans, and it was certainly a fine way for Wee Woodsie to break his duck for the season.

The onus was very much on the visitors now, which should have suited the Spiders, and allowed them to dictate possession. In reality, while we seldom looked in danger, our passing was not to the crowd … or the Gaffer’s liking.

Brady became the first Spider to be booked after 64 minutes, and he could have no arguments as he tried to swap jerseys with Steeves. Problem was, the game was still in full swing at the time!

Both sides made a change after 68 minutes.; Montrose replacing Anderson with Watson, while Aiden Malone came on in place of Mr Perpetual Motion (that’s Carter in case you didn’t guess).

Sean Burns produced a contender for the longest passback of the season after 75 minutes. He was facing his own goal when a Queen’s corner was cleared to him … and he thumped it all the way back to Willie Muir. A 90-yard pass with a difference.

Malone brought out a fine save from Fleming with 11 minutes left as he unleashed a powerful shot following a good McKernon break.

Montrose almost got back in the game from a corner after 81 minutes. Webster got a header on target, but Millen stopped it on the line and McGeever completed the clearance.

Brady and Galt made way for Liam Brown and Fotheringham with six minutes left.

Woods did well to get back and poke the ball behind for a corner as Fraser threatened. And then Steeves was booked in the 87th minute as he flung himself to the deck in the vain hope of winning a penalty. Referee Reid saw it for the dive it was and the only thing the Montrose man won was a place in the black book.

A couple of shuddering tackles livened up the final minute, with Gibson to the fore. Both tackles were legal, but Webster was forced to limp off. Ross Campbell was stripped and ready, but never made it onto the park before the final whistle sounded.

Another victory under the belt; another cup tie beckons … and the good news is that Queen’s won this one without getting anywhere near their best.

Job done … Keep the Faith.

Queen’s Park: Willie Muir, Ross Millen, Scott Gibson, Jamie McKernon, Ryan McGeever, Adam Cummins, Paul Woods, David Galt, John Carter, Anton Brady, Sean Burns. Subs: Aiden Malone, Gregor Fotheringham, Bryan Wharton, Liam Brown,  Conor McVey, Ewan MacPherson, Owen Stott (GK).