Queen’s Park 2 Airdrieonians 1

A VERY Happy New Year to you and yours, dear reader, and welcome to our sesquicentennial.

No, Gus MacPherson hasn’t signed a foreign star in the January transfer window (well, not yet, anyway!). That splendid word signifies that Queen’s Park have entered their 150th year of existence, which we will officially celebrate with a civic reception at the City Chambers on July 7.

The oldest football club in Scotland, the oldest amateur football club in the world, and the second oldest in the world still playing in a senior league, Queen’s Park are still very much alive and kicking.

We welcome in 2017 from the dizzying heights of fifth place in the SPFL League One and with the frankly staggering total of 27 points. And this from a newly-promoted squad of amateur players. What a splendid effort for our sesquicentennial.

Last week’s defeat against Stranraer was dismal, but while it ended an eight-game unbeaten run it should not obscure the fact that 2016 was a great year for Queen’s.

Now we face the First Foot challenge of second-top Airdrieonians, who are just five points ahead of Queen’s and seven behind leaders Livingston.

Both sides are coming off the back of home defeats last week, Airdrie losing the Monklands derby against Albion Rovers, but the Diamonds have the edge on us this season.

We made a very promising start against them in the early-season Betfred Cup, when we lost 8-7 in a penalty shoot-out, but in the two league games since we lost 3-1 at Hampden and 4-1 at Airdrie (three penalties and a corner, if Homer’s memory hasn’t completely gone).

Gus MacPherson made three changes from his starting x1 against Stranraer. Adam Cummins, an almost ever-present this season, was on the bench as Ross Millen returned at right back after illness. David Galt dropped out the squad entirely, being replaced by the returning Gregor Fotheringham, and up front Ewan MacPherson replaced Aiden Malone, who was on the bench.

And there was the pleasing sight of Gavin Mitchell on the bench after the young full back’s lengthy injury absence.

Conditions were distinctly better than last week’s rainfest as young MacPherson kicked off, and it was the striker who got the pulses racing early with good control from a long clearance that needed Gorman’s intervention to stop him just outside the box.

The strong contingent of Airdrie fans were saluting a goal when Russell got his head to a near post header from Brown’s corner, but the ball flew into the side net, much to the derisory delight of the home fans.

Queen’s were looking bright early on. Burns won a free-kick to the left of the area and from McKernon’s kick, Wharton had a header cleared off the line by Boateng.

Woods then had a shot straight at keeper Ferguson, followed by a delightful ball into the box from Millen that had Boateng struggling, but it also slipped agonisingly wide of the well-placed MacPherson and behind as 10 minutes came and went in a flash.

Airdrie had yet to get into their attacking stride, but they still looked dangerous in 13 minutes with a sharp break down the left that won a corner.

MacPherson was certainly getting involved. He looked to be barged off the ball in the box by McDonald in 18 minutes, but as Queen’s appealed the youngster got quickly to his feet and only just failed to pick out Woods with a pass.

But Queen’s did take the lead in 20 minutes, and with a goal that would have every fan raving were it to be shown on Match of the Day.

Brady and MacPherson combined to send Millen down the right, and his low

Cross was met at the near post by Fotheringham, who allowed the ball to run through his legs before connecting with a quick right-foot backheel that beat keeper Ferguson all ends up at his near post. Spectacular.

Queen’s were well ahead on points as we neared the half-hour, but let’s not tempt fate, as that old anorak Gulliver likes to say.

Willie Muir had been enjoying a quiet afternoon so far, but he had to race off his line to make a diving save on the edge of his box to nullify an Airdrie break and then he took a driven cross low down at his left-hand post.

Gibson was booked for a foul on 35 minutes on our left byeline but he also suffered an injury which saw him having to go off and Airdrie equalising from the free-kick.

Cummins replaced Gibson before Conroy swung over the kick, and the dangerous Russell was unmarked as he rose to head past Muir. Too easy. And what was that about tempting fate?

And as often happens when you don’t make your possession count, it was almost 1-2 right on half-time. Cummins lost the flight of a ball into our box and Russell was totally clear eight yards out, but Muir was quickly off his line to deflect his powerful shot over the bar.

Half-time: Queen’s Park 1 Airdrieonians 1

Airdrie had obviously woken up after their goal and they came close to adding to it less than two minutes into the second half.

Ryan got on the end of a ball into the box, turned McGeever, and hammered a right-foot shot that Muir touched over the bar.

Brady was booked for dissent on 50 minutes, having been warned to zip it a minute earlier, but he wasn’t alone in finding some of referee Beaton’s decisions bewildering.

MacPherson went down in the box in 57 minutes under Boateng’s challenge but the referee waved away appeals.

It was a different game now. Queen’s had lost much of their first-half cohesion, which was probably a result of Airdrie’s improvement, but they had a half-chance when Wharton headed a clearance straight at Ferguson after a corner. Cummins was booked for preventing the keeper taking a quick kick-out.

McKernon had a powerful shot blocked and Woods ran out of steam after driving into the box, mishitting his shot wide.

Young MacPherson went off in 70 minutes after an excellent shift and Malone took his place up front.

Queen’s were belligerent, fighting their corner, and going into the last 15 minutes they were again on the front foot.

Boateng was booked, and not before time, for a foul on Malone in 77 – and from the free-kick Queen’s again took a deserved lead.

Burns took the kick, central 35 yards out, and when a defending header knocked it down, McGeever showed commendable calm to steady himself, take a touch, and belt a shot through a forest of legs and into the net.

Airdrie, having already replaced Leitch with McKay, then took off Boateng and sent on Loudon.

Queen’s went soooooooo close to a third goal on 80 minutes, when a delicious cross from Burns tantalisingly missed first Woods and then Brady as it zipped through the area and past the far post.

This was excellent from Queen’s, bright and battling. Woods was taken down from the back as he charged through, earning a booking for McDonald, and Millen’s low free kick beat the wall but was comfortably held by Ferguson.

Fotheringam was booked for a sliding challenge as 90 minutes came and went on the scoreboards. Queen’s defended the free kick well, and a booted clearance was pulled down by Malone on the halfway line and held up for Brady to burst clear. The wee man took the ball for a walk into the corner flag, won a free-kick, and the full-time whistle went. And as Queen’s celebrated, there was a spot of handbags between Malone and Brady and disgruntled Airdrie players.

So, typical Queen’s. Lose to the bottom team in the league, beat the second top.

Roll on the next sesquicentennial. Keep the faith.

Queen’s Park: Willie Muir, Ross Millen, Scott Gibson, Jamie McKernon, Ryan McGeever, Bryan Wharton, Paul Woods, Gregor Fotheringham, Ewan MacPherson (Malone 70), Anton Brady, Sean Burns. Subs – Aiden Malone, Conor McVey, Craig McLeish, Liam Brown, Adam Cummins, William Mortimer, Gavin Mitchell.

Airdrie: Rohan Ferguson, Sean McIntosh, Dan Boateng, Joe Gorman, Keiran MacDonald, Ryan Conroy, Adam Brown, Kyle Hutton, Andy Ryan, Jack Leitch, Iain Russell. Subs: Jack McKay, Kevin Schmidt, Murray Loudon, Matt Kerr, Conor McLaughlin, John Higgins.

Referee – Graham Beaton.

Highlights from behind the goal

Gregor Fotheringham gives us the lead

 

Ryan McGeever wins the game