The stage was set in advance for what looked like being a good match at the national stadium on Saturday afternoon. The pitch, like that at Dumbarton on Tuesday night, looked to be in immaculate condition after the recent spell of good weather and added to that, both teams were going into the game on the back of strong and encouraging performances in their last outings.
The visitors were making their first ever trip to face the Spiders at Hampden and went into the game in impressive form having recorded a 0-0 draw with League One Dumbarton and a 2-2 draw against Premiership newcomers St Mirren in their first two Group H matches. They may have gone on to lose the bonus point on penalties in both fixtures, but it was clear that they would be coming to Hampden looking to cause another upset.
On the back of an impressive performance against a strong Dumbarton side just a few days earlier, gaffer Gus MacPherson made three changes to his starting XI as youngsters Calvin McGrory and Ali Miller came in to replace Adam Martin and Dean Kindlan with Smart Osadolor taking his place at the expense of Ewan MacPherson who had picked up a knock in the midweek encounter.
It was the visitors who got the proceedings underway and after a low key opening few minutes Queen’s mounted their first attack of the match. Kurtis Roberts, who had impressed on the right side of midfield at Dumbarton found himself in his favoured central midfield role and it was his delightful through ball over the top of the Spartans back line which almost gave Josh Peters a one on one chance with the keeper, unfortunately Peters was just unable to get the ball under control at the crucial moment.
Minutes last the visitors made their first venture deep into the Queen’s half as Craig Stevenson burst into the Spiders box at pace, playing a neat one two with Scott Maxwell before running out of space to make the cut the back. An early warning sign that the Spartans meant business and would pose a real threat in attack.
Despite early chance for both sides, the opening spell of the match had been uneventful and scrappy and it was 15 minutes in before the visitors won the first corner of the match. Stevenson’s delivery was deep and fell to the feet of Jack Smith at the back of a crowded penalty box but he wasn’t able to direct the side footed effort on target and the Spiders were able to breathe a sign of relief at the missed opportunity.
Moments later at the other end of the park Queen’s should have taken the lead. Jamie McKernon took the ball on a mazy run into the Spartans box, played a great one two with Peters before turning the last man but with only the keeper to beat he snatched at the chance and hit the side netting.
With twenty minutes on the clock debutant Smart Osadolor got his first real involvement and showed a glimpse of what he will have to offer for the season ahead as he collected the ball on the right and with a burst of pace got past his man, unfortunately for him running the ball just out of play as he got to the byeline. Despite there having been few clear-cut chances as the twenty minute mark passed, Queen’s had done well to contain the visitors within their own half and enjoy a lot of possession in doing so.
There were to be half chances at either end within quick succession as Smith saw a header saved by Jordan Hart in the Spiders goal before McKernon volleyed over from 20 yards at the other end when he’ll feel he should have time better with the time afforded to him to get the shot away.
As the game passed the half hour mark Spartans went close to the opener. After impressive build up play Jamie Dishington found himself unmarked within the box, but his goal bound effort deflected just wide for a corner. It was another let off for the Spiders backline and a sign that the visitors were taking a foothold in the game after a fairly low-key start.
With 36 minutes on the clock Gus MacPherson made his first substitution of the match which saw Ali Miller depart to be replaced by Adam Martin who had impressed again on the left against Dumbarton midweek.
There was to be little by the way of any real chances as the first half drew to a close and as referee Duncan Smith brought the first half to an end it remained goalless.
HT: Queen’s Park 0-0 The Spartans
Osadolor got the second half underway for the Spiders but like the first half, the opening five minutes brought very little by the way of real action, but it wasn’t long before the first goal of the match came and unfortunately from a Queen’s perspective it was the visitors who took the lead.
Spartans broke forward and a perfectly weighted Blair Atkinson pass found Dishington inside the box and the striker calmly slotted a good finish past Hart and low into the net. The warning signs had been there in the first half that the visitors were more than capable of causing problems and you would have been hard pushed to argue that their play hadn’t merited the goal.
The goal appeared to have been the wakeup call that the Spiders needed and little over three minutes later, with 55 minutes on the clock, the scores were level.
McKernon floated a delightful free kick from the left into the back post and captain Scott Gibson was perfectly placed to powerfully head past Spartans keeper Blair Carswell and pull Queen’s level. It was a great goal from a Spiders points of view but one which must have left the visitors disappointed that it had come from a poorly defended set piece.
As the game passed the hour mark Queen’s won a free kick in a central position around 25 yards from goal, unfortunately for the impressive Calvin McGrory, his effort from the set piece came off the wall and out for a corner.
With 61 minutes played Queen’s made their second and third substitutions of the game as youngster James Grant replaced Gavin Lachlan and Billy Mortimer replacing Smart Osadolor. This was followed just a few minutes later by a double substitution for the visitors as Ian McFarland and Blair Atkinson were replaced by Jason Stevens and Willie Bremner.
The equaliser appeared to have given Gus’ side a boost and with 70 minutes on the clock they got the vital second goal from ex Kilbirnie Ladeside man Kurtis Roberts. Mortimer cut in from the left and found Roberts 25 yards from goal, the midfielder controlled it well before unleashing an almighty right footed effort which found the top corner, giving Spartans keeper Blair Carswell no chance. Not a bad way to mark your first game at Hampden.
As the game went into the final stages Jack Nixon replaced Scott Maxwell for the visitors and it was the substitute who had Spartans last chance on goal of the match. Unfortunately for the visitors Nixon couldn’t get the power or direction needed on his header to beat Hart in the Spiders goal with five minutes remaining.
There was to be one final talking point in the match and that came in the first minute of injury time as Bremner went down in the box from a Gerry McLauchlan tackle however despite the protests of the visiting players referee Duncan Smith waved away the claims and awarder a corner. A let off for Queen’s who were to see the corner, and the remaining injury time out.
FT: Queen’s Park 2-1 The Spartans
Queen’s Park: Jordan Hart, Gavin Lachlan (James Grant 61’), Ciaran Summers, Jamie McKernon, Gerry McLauchlan, Scott Gibson, Kurtis Roberts, Calvin McGrory, Smart Osadolor (Billy Mortimer 61’), Josh Peters and Ali Miller (Adam Martin 36’).
Unused substitutes: Dean Kindlan, Cammy Foy, Brendan Sharpe and Jack Dunlop.
The Spartans: Blair Carswell, Alan Brown, Blair Tolmie, Adam Crobett, Craig Stevenson, Michael Herd, Jack Smith, Ian McFarland (Willie Bremner 65’), Scott Maxwell (Jack Nixon 80’), Jamie Dishington and Blair Aitkinson (Jason Stevens 65’).
Unused substitutes: Gary Cennerazzo, Cameron Dawson, Harry Girdwood and Scott Costello.
Officials: Referee – Duncan Smith. Assistants – Gordon Crawford and Chris Hughes.