Queen’s Park 2 Albion Rovers 5
IT’S Queen’s Park’s first home league game since the oldest amateur football club in the world celebrated our 150th birthday in July, and you have to admit we’re looking splendid for our age.
We’re still three days short of a month into the new season and already the visit of Albion Rovers is our sixth competitive game (although no doubt that old anorak Gulliver will remind Homer that QP don’t play friendlies).
Those five games, starting with the Betfred Cup group, could be considered largely positive although our League One opener last week at Arbroath was disappointing.
But it will take more than six games for our new squad to gel, especially all those players experiencing their first taste of senior football, and patience will be the key, on and off the park.
With no injury problems, Gus MacPherson had choices to make and in the end went with three changes from the Gayfield defeat, with Thomas Orr, Conor McVey and Adam Cummins making way for David Green, Ewan MacPherson and Chris Duff.
He lined up in the now customary 3-5-2 formation, with Willie Muir in goals; a back three of Ross Millen, Kevin Green and Bryan Wharton. David Galt was deployed at right wing-back, flanking David Green, Dominic Docherty and Anton Brady, with Sean Burns on the left. Chris Duff supported Ewan MacPherson up front.
The subs bench was Thomas Orr, Conor McVey, Adam Cummins, Michael Bailey, Luke Whelan, Billy Mortimer and Michael White.
As for the visitors, it was strange to see an Albion team that didn’t feature the Dunlop brothers Mick and Ross in their defence – they are now at Stenny – but there was one ex-Spider lining up for the Coatbridge men in the shape of new signing Alan Trouten.
The annual wedding exhibition was being staged at Hampden this weekend, but we’ll dispense with the usual jokes – although it may explain the absence of a regular member of the QP media team.
Our Twitter correspondent, Sean Davenport, is in Ireland on lap 44 of his brother’s stag build-up.
This is excellent training for young Davenport, since he will be having Gulliver as his father-in-law after becoming engaged to the old boy’s youngest, the delightful Nicola.
It looked a good day for football, bright and with little wind – although for some reason the floodlights were on, yet we can’t afford to run the new scoreboards – and Rovers kicked off towards the traditional home end.
A bright start by Queen’s was almost rewarded in three minutes. Galt and Burns combined to work the ball into the box and David Green just failed to connect from four yards before Marr booted the ball clear.
Queen’s were pressing well and they worked another good chance in seven minutes. Brady got possession when McLaughlin was pressured into a loose pass, but his through ball into the box was just too far ahead of Docherty and keeper Bowman dived to save at the young Spider’s feet.
But Queen’s could not be denied in 11 minutes when they went ahead with the aid of a deflection. Burns was almost certainly attempting a cross from wide left, but the ball struck Reid as he attempted to close down and it fairly whipped over stranded keeper Bowman and in at his far side net.
Fortunate perhaps, but no more than Queen’s deserved for their enterprising start.
Trouten has always been a talented, entertaining footballer, and his free role saw him popping up in dangerous positions, as in 16 minutes when he got free to flick a trundler agonisingly wide of a stranded Muir’s left-hand post.
But Muir denied Rovers an equaliser in 19 minutes with a spendid save. Fisher barged his way to the left byeline, cut back low, and Higgins’ powerful drive was beaten away one-handed by the agile Muir.
The danger wasn’t over. Millen headed out the loose ball but it fell to Shields, who whacked it back in only for Kevin Green to put his body in the way and block the shot.
Wharton did likewise in 27 minutes – three times, in fact. First he put in a great sliding tackle as Shields burst clear, blocked the striker again as he picked up the loose ball, and then finally blocked Shields’ attempted cross for a corner.
And Rovers really should have been level after the corner, but Marr headed over when he should at least have hit the target.
The sun was now shining brightly, and the lights were still on. Go figure.
The lights almost went out on Rovers in 35 minutes. The visitors were putting themselves in bother by trying to play too much football, and Galt profited to get in a cross that keeper Bowman grabbed off the head of MacPherson. Soooo close.
But it was Queen’s who were left in the dark in 39 minutes when Rovers equalised.
It was a corner on the left by Higgins, Marr again rose alone, and this time he didn’t miss the target as he powered his header wide of Muir.
And it got worse for Queen’s when Rovers took the lead two minutes later. Wharton lost the ball to Trouten in the box and Muir was quickly off his line to dive at the feet of the ex-Spider – penalty!
The Queen’s keeper avoided a booking, but he was helpless as Trouten left him stranded from the spot. What a turnaround, and is that hairdryers we can hear being warmed up in the dressing room?
Half-time: Queen’s Park 1 Albion Rovers 2
Wharton didn’t reappear for the restart. Michael Bailey came on, slotting in at left wing-back as Burns moved inside to take Wharton’s place beside Kevin Green and Ross Millen in the back three.
But within two minutes Rovers shocked Queen’s with a third goal, and it was simple.
Burns came off second best in a soft tussle with Shields and the striker raced clear into the box and managed to drive the ball between Muir and his near left-hand post. Cue stunned silence from the home support.
Rovers lost Higgins through injury shortly after and he was replaced by McManus.
Kevin Green had a shot blocked on the line in 52 minutes as Queen’s tried to respond, but it was a long way back.
Docherty was replaced by Orr in 56 minutes and he arrived just in time to see Kevin Green head wide from a corner.
Not surprisingly, given the score, Rovers had their tails up and it needed another good save from Muir to deny them a fourth goal just short of the hour.
McManus raced down the right and his cross found the influential Fisher in splendid isolation to connect with a strong header that Muir touched one-handed over the bar.
But that fourth goal was merely delayed, and again it was self-inflicted. Burns made a hash of a quick free-kick outside our box, gave it to Trouten, he fed the unmarked Shields, and a right-foot shot whistled behind Muir.
Well, Homer did say patience would be needed.
Brady was booked for showing his frustration with a foul, then Queen’s sent on Mortimer for MacPherson and Rovers switched Hopkins for Holmes.
But the embarrassment continued as a fifth goal inevitably followed in 75 minutes, as the defence continued to implode.
This time Kevin Green was caught in possession by McManus on the right, the ball was fed into the box and Trouten popped up to slide a low shot wide of Muir.
Davidson was replaced by Gallagher for Rovers, but Queen’s did manage to get on the scoresheet again when Orr headed in a Bailey cross in 81 minutes.
Trouten missed a chance of a hat-trick in 87 minutes when he shot straight at Muir after Queen’s had been cut open for the umpteenth time.
And that was that. A disastrous day for Queen’s.
Now it’s on to Wednesday and our IRN-BRU Cup opener against Motherwell Colts at Forthbank.
Be patient – and keep the faith.
Queen’s Park: Muir, Millen, Burns, Wharton, Kevin Green, David Green, Galt, Docherty, MacPherson, Brady, Duff.
Subs: – Orr, McVey, Cummins, Bailey, Whelan, Mortimer, White.
Albion Rovers: Bowman, Reid, McLaughlin, Marr, Perry, Holmes, Fisher, Davidson, Shields, Higgins, Trouten.
Subs: Lightbody, Hopkins, Gallagher, Guthrie, Potts, McManus, O’Kane.
Referee – Grant Irvine.