Queen’s Park 0 Airdrieonians 0
REPORTS of our death — on and off the park — have been greatly exaggerated, if Homer may quote another venerable scribe.
Games may be disappearing faster than Vladimir Putin’s foreign “diplomats”, with just five matches left to complete the regular season, but we can’t be discounted in a three-way League One survival fight.
The four points we harvested from our three successive away games have at least kept us in touch of the play-off place — just one point behind Albion Rovers, who helpfully failed to open a bigger gap with their three games in hand, and five behind Forfar Athletic.
Intriguingly, our run-in rivals are almost identical to Rovers’. We each must play Airdrieonians, East Fife, Raith Rovers, and Forfar, and while our last game is Arbroath here, Albion have to visit Ayr United (and we’ll quickly pass over the pain the Spiders endured at Somerset last week).
The Diamonds bring less than sparkling away form to Hampden Park today; the worst in the division, in fact, with just two away wins (QP have five).
But that squares very nicely against the worst home record in the league; Queen’s have a solitary win against East Fife to show for their considerable efforts at a National Stadium that has always inspired opposition players.
And Queen’s and Airdrieonians share a league-leading six home draws, which hasn’t helped either team’s cause.
Gus MacPherson made three changes from the Somerset game. David Galt and Jamie Gullan returned after missing that one and Luke Donnelly got a starting slot. Lewis Magee dropped out the squad and Dominic Docherty and Robbie Leitch dropped to the bench.
Also on the bench was 16-year-old Michael Ruth, promoted after showing good form in the Queen’s development squad.
It was a bitingly cold, wet and windy day as the Diamonds, in their traditional white strip and red V, kicked off defending the away end.
Queen’s started on the front foot and came close to the opener in seven minutes, when a good move down the left ended with Donnelly’s powerful low shot being well saved low down by Ferguson.
But the Airdrie goal led a charmed life as Queen’s came so close to taking the lead. First Galt’s corner and then driven cross led to panic in the home defence before being cleared, then in nine minutes Keena won a tackle to go through one-on-one with Ferguson only for the keeper to block.
It had been an enterprising, stirring few minutes for Queen’s, but they had a scare of their own with Airdrie’s first chance in 12 minutes, when Gibson at full stretch touched away Hastie’s low shot for a corner.
And we had White to thank for a fingertip save that turned Hastie’s header round his left-hand post after the No11 had been given too much space at the back post as a cross came in. So, end-to-end stuff so far, as the rain got heavier.
Fotheringham was booked for a professional foul on the speedy Hastie in 17 minutes as the winger beat Millen and looked to break.
The action quietened down after that flourish, and it was 32 minutes before Queen’s threatened again, a nice move down the right ending with Donnelly sclaffing a shot wide.
But Queen’s threw away a gilt-edged chance to take the lead when they missed a penalty in 39 minutes.
Galt won the award with a neat turn in the box that drew a foul from McGregor, but Millen tried to be too cute from the spot, attempting to chip the keeper down the middle but instead chipping his kick over the bar.
Airdrie almost rubbed salt in that wound when White had to be alert to hold an effort from Carrick.
That we reached half-time without scoring sums up our season. A one-on-one and a penalty. You can’t ask for much more.
Half-time: Queen’s Park 0 Airdrieonians 0
Cairns was booked for a foul on Brady two minutes in and Airdrie came within a lick of paint of taking the lead in 52.
Queen’s had restarted the half in sloppy fashion, with misplaced passes, and when they failed to clear one attack, McGregor from 16 yards trundled a shot past White but it came off his left-hand post, rolled agonisingly along the line and was booted clear at the other post by Millen.
Queen’s sent on McVey for Brady in 55 and Airdrie replaced Cairns with McIntosh in 58.
Queen’s threatened again in 68. Donnelly showed good pace and fight to win a corner on the left and from Galt’s delivery Cummins headed over from under the bar, and then Keena shot straight at Ferguson.
Gibson was booked for a foul on Carrick in 71 and Burns followed for a foul a minute later.
The game exploded in 77 minutes when O’Neil went through Burns right at the dugouts, then he threw a punch as the Spiders skipper reacted and was shown a straight red card.
Queen’s then sent on young Ruth for Donnelly as the 10-man visitors retreated behind the ball, and Babe Ruth had a chance in 86 but couldn’t control his shot and sent it over the bar from 18 yards.
It was one-way traffic and Orr was the last Queen’s change in 87, replacing the for once out of sorts Keena.
McGregor was booked for dissent as Queen’s tried to find a way through a packed defence, but it wasn’t to be. Another big chance lost, but with Rovers and Forfar both losing, we’re still alive.
Keep the faith.
Queen’s Park: Michael White, Ross Millen, Scott Gibson, Adam Cummins, Gregor Fotheringham, Anton Brady, Jamie Gullan, David Galt, Aidan Keena, Luke Donnelly, Sean Burns. Subs: Dominic Docherty, Thomas Orr, Robbie Leitch, Billy Mortimer, Kevin Green, Conor McVey, Michael Ruth.
Airdrieonians: Rohan Ferguson, Chris O’Neil, Kieran MacDonald, Lee Kilday, Jordan McGregor, Dean Cairns, Scott Stewart, Dale Carrick, Ryan Conroy, Cameron Russell, Jake Hastie. Subs: Matthew Kerr, Sean Mcintosh, Adam Brown, Ross Brown, Tom Fry, Joshua Edwards, Robbie Leighton.
Referee; Mat Northcroft.